Main image of article Outdated Job Hunting Techniques That No Longer Work
Tired of sending résumés that seem to disappear into a black hole, or hearing nothing but crickets after a job interview? It may be time for a new approach. The job-hunting process has changed in recent years. If your search for a new opportunity isn’t progressing as quickly as you’d like, here are four tactics that you should kick to the curb—immediately.

Spray and Pray

Spending countless hours applying for random jobs can be frustrating and futile. Remember, 98 percent of job seekers are eliminated during the initial résumé screening, and only two percent make it to the interview, advised Scott Engler, founder of B.Y.O.B. Coaching & Consulting. “Focus on the principle of attraction rather than outbound activity,” he said. “SEO optimize your online profiles and spend time developing your online presence to make it easy for recruiters and employers to find you.” Even currently employed tech pros can privately signal to recruiters that they’re open to new job opportunities on LinkedIn, Engler added. This strategy is especially helpful for tech pros who have highly marketable skillsets. For example, a developer with strong SaaS experience had submitted 80 applications without a bite before he contacted Engler; his fortunes changed once he optimized his profile to appear near the top of search results. Kathy Harris agrees that flooding the market with résumés is no longer effective. “The spray and pray tactic doesn’t work anymore,” noted the managing director and founder of Harris Allied, a technology and quant analyst recruitment firm. “Targeting specific companies and being referred has become the best way to apply for jobs.”

Pinning All Your Hopes on Your Résumé

A modern résumé serves as an introduction and an invitation to find out more about you. It is no longer the most important document you need to secure an interview. “It doesn’t carry as much weight as a mid-term or final exam; it’s more like a quiz,” Engler analogized. Plus, hiring managers are no longer willing to wade through a long, detailed document to see if you have the required skills and experience. Your résumé has to hit all the marks quickly to make it past the first round. Speak to the role by showcasing relevant projects, and skip everything else; submitting an unfocused, multi-page résumé that covers everything from FORTRAN to Java can be the kiss of death in some companies. “Once your résumé has been rejected by a hiring manager and is stored in a company’s database—you’re done,” Harris said. “There’s virtually nothing anyone can say or do to convince them to consider you for other positions.”

Winging the Interview

With the plethora of information and sample interview questions available to job seekers today, failing to research the company, the hiring manager, and the role before an interview is an automatic deal-breaker. Most interviewers kick off an interview by asking the classic question: “Why do you want to work here?” When you don't have a solid answer, the interview is over before it even starts. “A hiring manager views a lack of preparation as a sign of disinterest, especially if he works for a marquee company,” Harris noted. Now that information is ubiquitous, interviewers have higher expectations. And frankly, a hiring manager isn’t going to invest in a candidate he isn’t sold on.

Failing to Seize Your Opportunity

Face it, top candidates are in a position of power and have equal say in the hiring process, so take an active role in determining your future by asking questions during the interview. Hoping for the best is out; knowing where you stand is in. Never leave an interview without finding out the manager’s timeline for making a decision and determining when and how you should follow up. “Don’t assume,” Engler said. “Make sure you know what to expect from that point forward so you’re not left hanging.”