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Technology and job hunting go together like a horse and carriage these days. With the sheer number of online tools at our fingertips multiplying daily, connecting with potential employers, finding open positions and marketing yourself have never been easier — really.
Although ultimately you will likely land a job through an old-fashioned face-to-face interview, the path to the seat facing the hiring desk will often require savvy navigation of online resources.
In a recent AARP survey, 45 percent of unemployed boomers said it's extremely or very important to stay current with technology for the types of jobs they're looking for. That's an impressive number, but it also means that 55 percent don't really get that times have changed.
So here are six smart ways to use the latest technology to find a great job.
Do your cyber homework.
Run an internet search on corporations where you might want to work. Set up a Google alert to send you emails about news related to promising firms. Sign up as a follower of the company on social media accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
This type of digging can give you a sense of whether it's a culture in which you'd be comfortable. And if you get invited in for an interview, you'll be well versed in the issues facing the company and its industry. Your ability to converse knowledgeably will not only signal your enthusiasm and genuine interest in the company but also show that you have a solid work ethic.
Create a social media strategy to market your talent.
The first port of call is a great profile on the LinkedIn job networking site. Recruiters comb the platform for possible candidates. You can set your LinkedIn account to send you a weekly email of positions on the site's job board that align with your experience.
Scrub your Facebook account of anything you would not want a potential employer to see. Untag yourself from unflattering photos that show up on your page after being posted by others.
Remember that a hiring manager will do his or her own online search to get a deeper picture of who you are beyond your résumé. But if they find nothing, that's a red flag, too. You want to demonstrate that you're comfortable with the latest technology. Whether it's fair or not, there's a pervasive nagging feeling that an older worker is not willing to learn new ways of doing things and not at ease with technology. Prove that idea wrong.
Post strategically. On social media, you want to show your personality and interests, but do it in moderation. Depending on the kind of work you do, you may want to create an online portfolio of your projects (on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn) to give potential clients or employers a sample. This can be anything from photos of kitchens you've remodeled to articles you've written. You can also create your own website using a low-cost or free platform such as Wix, WordPress or GoDaddy.
Reach out to your network.
From your profile on LinkedIn, for example, you can do a search to see who among your connections is working at a particular company. When you're ready to apply for an opening, you can ask a contact for advice or an introduction to a hiring manager. Your contact may be able to deliver your résumé directly to that person via an employee referral program.
Scour job boards to see who's hiring.
It's often a losing proposition to send your résumé to one of the big job boards, like CareerBuilder, Indeed or Monster. They can be a black hole — your résumé is swallowed up and never seen again. Indeed, a very small percentage of people actually get hired this way. But what these boards can do is give you a sense of who's hiring and what positions are open.
The job board on a company's website is also worth a visit. But here, too, listings can be deceptive. The plan may be to fill the job in-house, but the employer is meeting the letter of the law by posting it on a public forum. Or the organization may be posting it to build a pool of candidates for a future opening. Whatever the case, it's still a great way to get a read on what qualifications are needed for a particular position.
Small local job boards or your industry niche board can be more fruitful in leading to real job possibilities. Check out the latest apps that can ping you when new openings are posted.
Get a grasp of salaries.
Job postings rarely mention pay, so the first step in getting the money you're after is to go to Glassdoor.com, PayScale.com or Salary.com, as well as the Economic Research Institute, to find out what the job you're seeking pays in your area. There's an ocean of information on this question. PayScale.com, for one, uses crowdsourcing and big data technologies to assemble a real-time database of more than 54 million individual salary profiles.
For government jobs, tap into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management site. If you're interested in a particular nonprofit, check out the organization's latest online tax filing (Form 990) to see how much its key employees and executives earn. And have a look at LinkedIn salary screens at linkedin.com/salary.
Visit a virtual career fair
For the 50-plus job seeker, taking part in a virtual career fair sends a strong signal that you are tech savvy — a chief consideration for many hiring managers. LinkedIn, industry councils, military groups and membership associations can direct you to upcoming job fairs they're sponsoring or taking part in.
AARP, for instance, is hosting an Online Technology Fair on June 8 to give workers advice on using technology in their job search. It will also hold another career fair featuring employers, in September.
By participating in a virtual job fair, you can connect with employers who are seeking experienced workers. To make the most of this opportunity, first explore the businesses on the attendee schedule. Make sure your résumé and social media accounts are up to date. When you register, you'll probably need to create a profile and upload a photo and a basic résumé.
Your objective is to make a good impression via keyboard conversations with representatives of all firms that appeal to you. Be prepared for a recruiter to ask you to switch to a video interview, usually via Skype. Also visit the chat rooms and advice sessions offered by experts at the fair.
Send thank-you emails to anyone you talked with online, and attach your résumé. Mention something from your dialogue with them as a memory cue of who you are. Never hit "send," though, until you have meticulously proofread your note. Misspellings may be overlooked in many online communications these days, but when you're job hunting, there is no margin for error.
Kerry Hannon is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Getting the Job You Want After 50 for Dummies. She has also written Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness and Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills. Find more from her at Kerryhannon.com.