Job Search in the Digital Age

Job Search in the Digital Age

In the Digital Age, professionals must provide the same level of care and attention to their professional identities in cyberspace as they do to their presence and reputation in the physical world, especially when they are looking for their next career opportunity. Job search in the Digital Age requires establishing and managing a digital professional brand, defining personal and professional boundaries and protecting one’s privacy, leveraging digital tools and technology to achieve goals, and bridging the physical and digital worlds. (August 19, 2014)

Author: Courtney Hunt


Last week I was invited to give a presentation entitled “Job Search in the Digital Era” to members and guests of the Executive Network Group of Greater Chicago (ENG). Focused primarily on senior professionals earning six-figure salaries,

The Executive Network Group’s mission is to build networking and professional relationships among active members, ENG alumni, employers, executive recruiters and other service providers and support groups. Drawing membership from a three-state area, this premier networking organization offers an incredible pool of proven management talent in all functional disciplines for both interim consulting projects and full-time positions. We assist members in their job search activities by facilitating networking among people dedicated to filling jobs, advancing careers and satisfying the needs of recruiters and employers.

This was the second time I had presented to the group, and even though most of the 100 or so folks there hadn’t heard my first talk, I decided to try to mix things up a bit. I know people in job search hear about LinkedIn constantly, and probably Twitter to a lesser extent, so I took a different tack. Specifically:

  • I kicked things off by providing an overview of how the recruiting process in many organizations – especially large ones – has changed dramatically (and will continue to change) because of social and digital technologies. Using pictures I have taken at the Expo Halls of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and HR Tech Conferences over the past couple of years, I provided a quick overview of how recruiting has been transformed by social, mobile, and other digital technologies, as well as by the rise of cloud computing and analytics. I discussed the implications for them as job candidates, emphasizing the importance of having the knowledge and skills to adapt. A paper resume, handbill and professional calling cards may all still be important, but job seekers today also have to be able to handle a video interview, engage in talent communities, network in the cloud as well as on earth, and leverage social media and other digital platforms and channels for information gathering, lead identification and interview preparation.
  • The next part of the presentation focused on managing one’s professional brand in cyberspace and was excerpted from my guide Dressing for Success in Cyberspace: Give Yourself a Digital Make-Over. As I suspected, they already knew a lot of the basics for this, but they were missing key aspects. For example, although many had conducted internet searches on their own names, they hadn’t also looked up any current/former partners (either personal or professional), which is another way their digital identity can be found. In addition, almost none of them had set up Google Alerts on their identities so they would get pinged whenever there was a new mention.
  • When I finally started talking about social and digital engagement, I focused less on the how-to aspects and more on the “why this is in your best interests” perspective. I don’t think people really hear that enough. In particular, I tried to emphasize the importance of leveraging social networks in an integrative way that complements more traditional activities and can help them achieve their goals and objectives more quickly. I specifically focused on the value of intelligence and information gathering, as well as connecting with individuals to expand both their networks and their options. Now more than ever – and especially when one is in job search mode – what you have to say is far less important than what you can gain by watching and listening. And when one does talk, there needs to be a balance between broadcast messages and individual outreach.

As with the first talk, the group had lots of questions, and there was a lively Q&A followed by even more questions after the talk concluded. I think they appreciated my pragmatic approach, and I hope they appreciated my humor. I’m pretty certain they left with more information and awareness than they had when they walked in, which always the goal.

Related Resources

In addition to the Dressing for Success piece, we have created lots of tactical guidance for rookies (and more) to help them better leverage social media platforms and tools, including LinkedIn and Twitter. Many of our SMART Resources also touch on the topic of career management in the Digital Era more broadly.

Your Thoughts?

As always, I welcome your feedback. What questions have this piece and my presentation raised for you? What would you add to, change, or delete from my recommendations?


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