After you breathe your big sigh of relief that 2016 is (almost) behind us, what’s next for your job search in 2017? What will the year bring that will change the way we search for jobs and create our working lives?
Here’s what I think will be important for a job seeker in 2017:
1. Hyper-fast response time.
Think about how quickly we’ve all been trained to expect a response to our need for information or resources. From car-sharing to groceries to our 20 daily Google requests for cat videos and sous vide recipes, we want things quickly. Hiring managers and recruiters aren’t immune to this; they want a quick response to their hiring need, like, yesterday.
What does this mean for you, dear job seeker?
- Fine tune your job search alerts so that you’re getting the right alerts as quickly as possible.
- Have your resume available to you to edit on Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. so you don’t have the “it’s on my home computer” excuse to delay sending it in.
- Create templates for your job search materials – emails for every stage of the job search process, from networking through interview follow-up and preparing your references. Then USE them – it’s much easier to edit a template with specifics for the job versus creating each correspondence from scratch.
- Reply quickly. If a recruiter/hiring manager/networking contact reaches out, or you see a role you love, give yourself a 2 hour window, max, within which to respond.
2. Iterative job openings.
Here’s what’s happening these days: managers are posting a need, interviewing people, refining the need, interviewing different people, refining again, deciding. They’re not afraid to change their minds on what they want, which is good news for you, since that means they get to design a role around you if they like you enough. However, it’s also frustrating for job seekers who want 100% clarity on what a role entails so that you can put your best foot forward.
What does this mean for you?
- Listen for the need, and don’t fixate on the pre-defined scope. The hiring team has a gap to fill, and it may manage x and y, or x and z, or… never mind, a, b, and c. No matter what they post online, they have a deeper need, and it’s your job to figure that out and respond to it.
- Present the expertise that they’re asking for, and don’t shy away from also responding on other skill areas if it sounds like they have a need there too. Now, I’m not saying that you should tell them “I’ll do anything,” which comes across as desperate and vague. But if they’re talking about related needs under the same hiring manager, feel free to share your expertise.
- Practice nimbly following wherever the conversations go; there’s a learned art to going in with a clear message and interview strategy, but then grasping the need quickly enough to follow along when the conversation changes.
- Keep your salary ballpark flexible enough to be able to encompass similar roles; don’t pin yourself down to a narrow scope up front if there are several possible roles on the table.
3. Chatbots will be your new best job search buddy.
Chatbots will become more and more central to the early stages of all of our interactions, collecting the data-centric information we share and leaving only the deeper parts of our conversations for humans. Picture chatbots taking over the first phone screen stage for recruiters, and if you “pass” the first test, you’ll get a live human being. Here’s what it might look like: you open up a messaging app, like Facebook, and you begin a “conversation” with the chatbot. It looks and feels very much like texting someone, except it’s a robot on the other end, with an algorithm driving its questions and answers. “How much are you making?” the chatbot asks you; “I prefer not to say,” you respond, and then it knows to dig with “Will you give me a ballpark, then?” and so on. It runs on human-powered rules and questions, all delivered by technology.
What does this mean for you?
- Roll your eyes and groan internally if you must, but it’s coming, so don’t let your fear or discomfort keep you away from those “conversations.” Pretty soon you may embrace the on-demand ability to talk to a chatbot about a job at 10:30 at night. Plus, someday we’ll use a friendly-sounding chatbot to find out key information about local companies and interesting roles, since the technology can sort and report on data of all kinds.
4. Video storytelling.
You know how your Facebook feed is now full of people on Facebook Live, documenting their days and sharing their stories? You’re going to need to know how to stand out on video, too. So many hiring managers are remote these days that it will be hard to conduct a job search in 2017 without being on video at some point. Your professional story needs to come across as authentic, compelling and brief, whether it’s on the phone, in person, or on video.
What does this mean for you?
- Use your smartphone, tablet or webcam to practice answering the questions: “so tell me about yourself” … “why do you want this job” … “why are you leaving” … and more. Make sure you’re looking at the screen in selfie view so you practice getting over your discomfort being on screen.
- Read up on tips for setting up your computer or device for the best light, sound and viewer experience during a videocast.
- Begin to think of video as a way to bring people closer together, instead of a way to keep you off guard. It allows you to connect in many of the same ways as a face to face interview, and helps you get to know your interviewer at a more personal level than a phone call.
In general for a job search in 2017, I think we’re going to need a lot of flexibility, technological bravery and willingness to embrace change. We’re in a period of economic uncertainty in the US; I expect quick hiring in some areas and some stop-and-start hiring behavior from companies that see an need they’d like to fill, but aren’t quite sure yet if the economics support it. From phone screen through actual hire, I also expect job seekers will need a fair amount of patience with hiring teams this year.
What about you? What do you think job seekers need to know for a successful job search in 2017?
~ Kathy Robinson