I remember looking for my first job at college. Traipsing the (usually cold and wet) streets of London,  walking in and out of office blocks, shops and restaurants with hard copies of my CV to ask if they had any vacancies.  Thinking about what I should be wearing and what I would say if they wanted to interview me straight away.  In my final year at university the search started again.  This time I was told to identify those companies I wanted to work for and write to the HR Director in person in order to set myself apart from the other million graduates out there (who were, no doubt, told to do exactly the same thing).
Have things really changed since those ‘good old days’?
I was talking to my nephew, who is looking for his first job, he wouldn’t dream of leaving the house in his search for that weekend job.  And why would he?  As I write this he’s looking for a weekend job in the comfort of his own home in front of his iPad. The use of digital technology and social media has changed the way job seekers interact with organisations, whether it’s for your first job or you’re an experienced hire.  To test the validity of digital vs the good old days I persuaded my nephew to try a mile in my shoes and see if he had any luck with the old school approach.  The results were comprehensive with roughly 90% of the shops informing him that he would need to apply directly through their online recruitment portal and most refusing to accept CVs in shops.
In another conversation a friend with about 10 years of experience said to me she might start writing to CIOs/COOs directly at the FTSE 100 companies – it made me chuckle.  Surely her CV won’t get anywhere close to the named person on the letter?  Reasons why:

  • It won’t get past the scrutiny of the PA who will pick this up and wonder what to do with it.

  • If she’s lucky it might get forward to the HR or recruitment team who in turn may or may not scan it to get it into their recruitment tools / system

  • I believe there is a high probability that her CV will get ‘lost’ in the process and it would be better to apply speculatively to the organisation through their online channel than in post.

With the increase in use of digital and social media ‘big brother’ tailors adverts and pages based on your search history.  Job sites, Twitter and LinkedIn for example enables organisations to directly target people based on their profile.  Recruitment consultants and organisations have access to profiles and can headhunt potential candidates more easily than ever before.  The reach is far greater and has the potential to increase further based on other people’s activity in your network – likes or reposts for example. I personally, I think it is easier than ever for experienced job seekers to find the right job for them without the paper CVs and wet shoes of years ago.
 It is important that you maintain your profiles and ensure your personal experience is up-to-date and accurate.  The world-wide-web is widely open to allow people to search personal information about you and it’s important you are aware of the data available about you, make sure what you post about yourself reflects you.
Even for the digitally savvy job seeker personal impact is still key to getting you through the recruitment process. Research shows that interviews may not be the best predictor of an individual’s competence yet for the organisation or candidate it would feel too weird not to have one, interviews can measure personal impact an aspect that will not always come across in your digital profile.
What’s your view, how do candidates stand out from the crowd in today’s fiercely competitive market? Is it simply down to your experience and CV or are we only moments away from talking head CV rather than the tradition 2 page CV?