**Article written by Val Matta, VP of Business Development at CareerShift; friend of the Career Development Center**
If you are not using online resources during your search, you are part of a minority. According to a 2015 study from the Pew Research Center, 79 percent of Americans looking for work within the last two years have used the Internet during recent searches.
Digital job searches yield results for many hopeful job seekers. The Pew Research Center reports that 34 percent of them claim online resources were the most important tool available, second to personal and professional networks, on the list of Americans’ most important resources.
Just like any other career endeavor, job seekers need to be equipped with a set of skills. Social skills are still very valuable for networking and interviewing, but what about the skills you need for successfully locating openings and landing interviews?
Here’s a look at what skills you’ll need during your digital job search:
1. Organizing Your Digital Job Search Resources
Maintaining an organized search will reduce the amount of time you spend. A study by the Career Advisory Board in April, 2015 found that 43 percent of successful job seekers only spent 1 to 3 hours each day on search activities.
There are several ways to organize your search before and during your process. One simple method is using a bookmark folder in your web browser. Search for a dozen or so websites to help you with searches, that can be focused on your specific industry or area. The big-name job sites will only get you so far.
Once you collect a list of job sites, add them to a bookmark folder and title it “Job Websites.” Side note: If you want to make it fun, use unique folder names like “Road to Success” to stay positive and interested throughout your process.
If you are going to use the big-name job finder sites, start an account with each one. Most of them allow you to save resumes and cover letters, and some offer one-click apply buttons via their website or smartphone application.
Save your application materials in a way that makes it convenient for you to recall specific details about your recent activity. Let’s say you applied to over 20 positions in a week, which means you probably wrote over 20 cover letters and resumes, and you get a call to schedule an interview: How exactly do you know about this company? What skills did you need? How did you gauge your interest when you first applied?
An easy method for recalling important application information is to simply label your documents with a system that will help you find the digital files quickly — and keep a copy of everything you send. Set your email account to save all sent mail, or bcc yourself when you send out applications. If you’re using an employer’s system, start a word-processing file to copy all your answers, and paste to fill in the fields quickly.
Create a simple spreadsheet system for tracking your applications and follow-up efforts. List the job title, contact name, date of submission, follow-up action, and the website or resource you used to find the position. Keeping this up-to-date will ensure you’re on task and following up at appropriate times.
2. Knowing Your Toolkit
Look at the tools you have at your disposal, and identify the best and worst uses for each one.
Your smartphone, for example, is a great tool for researching companies and job openings. It provides access to specific job search apps that may allow you to apply with one click. Although 50 percent of smartphone job seekers used their phone to fill out online applications, according to the Pew Research Center study, using a smartphone to fill out lengthy online applications will be a hassle.
You can also use productivity and calendar apps on your phone to prioritize and schedule events for potential resources like networking events or job fairs. These apps allow you to set alarms and reminders. A number of these apps sync with calendar features on other mobile and computer devices, for seamless transition and tracking of important tasks and events.
Web browsers on computers and laptops make it easy for you to navigate the multiple fields and pages on third-party application systems. Also, word processing software on these devices is ideal for writing resumes and cover letters.
Finally, use your Facebook account for more than scrolling through funny cat videos and political memes. Your social media accounts are great for sharing professional information and maintaining a presence for future employers.
3. Using Your Social Media Accounts
Your online presence has more of an impact than you think during your digital job search. The activity on your accounts should be an extension of your professional side.
For example, if you are looking into IT work, join an IT discussion group on LinkedIn, share new studies and surveys that address the industry on your Facebook, engage in discussions on Twitter, and stay visible online.
This will expand your network of friends and acquaintances and, at the very least, prove some of your strengths — such as writing and communication skills — keep those skills sharp, and allow you to flex your creative muscles.
4. Finding Your Calling
So your vague searches are yielding way too many postings with little substance. What to do?
Be specific. Be discerning. Be confident.
Finding your passion is a difficult thing to do, and most people struggle with this for a long time. However, resources exist to help you identify your skills, interests, and personality traits that will provide you with a sense of direction during your search. You can’t find your destination if you don’t have one in mind.
Even before starting your digital job search, find personality tests online. There are several resources available for free (or at an affordable price) that will act as a starting point for your self-reflection. Gaining insight on how your personality affects your actions and decision making is invaluable for your career pursuit.
Once you have a specific sense of who you are and what you love to do, you can narrow and refine your search and be specific in multiple fields, like region, job title, and industry.
How do you plan on using your skills to simplify your digital job search and guarantee success?
About Val Matta
Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution that gives job seekers complete control over their job search. It’s available for individual users, university and military career services centers, libraries, and corporations seeking to offer outplacement assistance to former employees. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.