I was watching “Chefs Table” this weekend, and a now-famous pastry chef was being interviewed about how he found his first job at a renowned restaurant. He said that he was living in Italy, and he called the restaurant and asked for work. The restaurant said, “sure, when do you want to start?” and that was how he landed his first job.
I stared at the screen, and laughed out loud. This business did not see his resume, did not know anything about who he was, they weren’t even aware of his relevant experience! Granted, this took place the early 2000’s, before the internet exploded onto the scene and changed the way we search and apply for employment. Wouldn’t is be great if it were that easy now?
Applying to jobs today can be…frustrating. In the past, you would look for a help wanted sign, walk into a building, and speak to the manager or owner there. Or, you would call around until someone said they had a vacancy.
Now, we have the internet. The internet has allowed us access to thousands of job opportunities we never would have known existed, which is wonderful. However, the internet has also allowed thousands of job seekers to apply to for jobs, and that has made the market extremely competitive for the job seeker. It is a gift and a curse.
Part of my role as a career strategist for my clients is to assist them in the daunting task of job applications. As one applicant in a sea of thousands, they often feel overwhelmed by the prospect of applying for jobs through job boards. To add to the stress of applying, I also have to explain to them how imperative it is to tailor their resume to every individual application; to make it unique and to show the employer how valuable they are.
As a job seeker, this is an impossible ask. Not only do they have to spend hours tailoring applications and writing cover letters for jobs, they usually never hear back from them. How can we expect them to put in this much effort?
So, as a way to alleviate some of stress in this arduous process and to empower my clients to make the most of their time and energy, I have employed the help of some nifty technology that can be found – you guessed it – on the internet. If you can’t beat them, join them! Battle technology with technology, use these tools to work smarter, not harder. And soon enough, you’ll feel like an expert in the game of online application.
What It Does: VMock: Smart Career Platform is an online tool that provides assessments of your application content. This can be a scan of your resume, cover letter, or even a presentation you are using in an interview. The tool “scans” your resume, and provides a score from 1-100 on a bell curve, on your resumes “strength”. The tool scores your resume using 3 core modules across 100+ parameters, and outlines in detail the strong and weak aspects of every bullet of your resume. It also provides recommendations on who to improve your score in the weak areas of your resume, one by one.
Why I Like it: VMock made the list because of the multi-dimensional aspects of this tool. Not only does it score your resume, but it gives you algorithmic feedback on specific areas. This tool gives you an overview on your resume, and is not specific to an employer or industry too. The online tool provides feedback in other areas as well, such as “Career Fit”, which give you career advise based on the content of your resume. VMock is equally useful to students and recent grads and seasoned professionals.
What It Does: One of the most frustrating things about applying online is the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s). They determine your fit for a position based on keyword matching. You could be a good fit for a position, but if you do not match the keywords correctly, you get pushed out of the applicant pool. JobScan uses ATS technology to “scan” the resume you used for an application along with the position description, and score you out of 100 on how well it matches the position. It does not recommend you submit an application with a score less than 80. The tool provides a detailed “match report” which outlines areas that you fit the position (marked with a green check) and areas where you can improve (marked with a red x). You can add the keywords you missed, incorporate the tips it provides, and re-scan until you achieve that 80% or higher match.
Why I Like it: This tool is great for two reasons. For one, it helps you outsmart those pesky ATS’s and get called in for interview 3X more than if you tried tailoring your resume on your own. Two, it gives you an idea of how ATS’s work, and teaches you the things to look out for in your applications. I like JobScan because it has a “teach a man to fish” mentality. You can pay for premium and scan every application you use, but I have shown this to clients who have used it a few times for free (you receive 5 free scans a month) and then gone on to become master keyword matchers on their own. However, you choose to utilize this tool, you understand the game much better for it.
What It Does: Most job seekers are familiar with Glassdoor. It is the free online “yelp” of companies and positons, basically. Most people utilize Glassdoor to look up salaries of positions. But, there is much more to this online tool. Yes, you can research salaries on Glassdoor, and filter them by location, which is very advantageous if you’re about to negotiate salary with a potential employer. In addition to this, however, this tool provides in-depth reviews of a company, from benefits to perks, to work life balance and more. The information can never be edited or deleted, too, so you know you’re receiving somewhat genuine intel. You can also look an interviews – yes interviews! You can see what types of questions the applicants were asked, and whether or not they were hired.
Why I Like it: Glassdoor keeps it real for job applicants. If you’re about to interview with a company and want to do real research, this tool is a great start. It provides you with the good, the bad and the ugly of what a company or organization has to offer, and you can go into the interview armed with the right questions about how they treat employees, how often the promote, how great the culture is, and more. A note: I would keep in mind that despite the “no edit and no delete” feature, this information must be taken with a grain of salt. Most people will only review something if they have a wonderful experience, or a terrible one. So, the reviews may be extreme and the personal accounts from past or current employees may air on the negative side. Keeping that in mind, however, the information is more useful than not.
What it Does: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all of the things you’re using and documents you’re saving in the job search process? You have documents saved here, an excel spreadsheet tracker there, jobs saved on various job boards like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed. You can lose information pretty easily, and its annoying to have to remember where everything is. JobHero allows you to store all of that precious information in one place. This tool allows you to save your job applications across web platforms and track your progress. You can also set reminders for yourself for follow-ups and deadlines for applications and assignments. You can also upload documents to the tool, like the resume you used to apply or specific things you were tasked with submitting to specific opportunities.
Why I Like it: JobHero is an organizers dream. You don’t have to continually create systems to track things, because you can link everything to this one tool. You can filter things by date created, due dates and status of applications. JobHero Sidekick syncs your applications from all of your job boards to one dashboard. You can also search jobs and receive career advice on this tool, there are articles on salary negotiation, interviewing and more. If you enjoy streamlining your life, this tool helps you do it.
What it Does: In addition to applying for jobs and tracking them, preparing for what happens when you finally get the call you have been hoping for is another source of anxiety. Soft skills are something I have seen as the biggest area of need for my clients. People simply do not practice their interview techniques, and it is killing their chances of landing a job! Practice really does make perfect. My interview practice is an online interview simulator that aids you in practicing your answers tot hose pesky behavior-based questions, as well as the more basic “strengths and weaknesses” ones. It provides interviews across various industries and positions, and provides you with a professional review of your answers.
Why I Like it: I think it is always important to practice your job interview techniques. New questions are being proposed by Human Resource professionals all the time, and it is important to stay up to date. Like a muscle you must exercise, you need to keep your interview performance in shape. This tool not only helps you keep yourself well-versed, it allows you to practice with different interviewers, across industries and professions. You can also share your interview with a coach or a peer for their feedback. The question bank is updated constantly, to stay competitive with what the job market is demanding. If you’re applying for jobs, you should be practicing your interview techniques, too.
Those are my top favorite online tools at the moment. Keep in mind, there are hundreds of online tools, and these are just the ones I have used. You can research your won tools to find what works best for you – and share them with your peers on LinkedIn!
The job search journey can be difficult sometimes, but if you apply the “work smarter, not harder” methodology, you’ll see a change in the way you apply and the way that employers respond to you in the job market. Keep up the great work!