The hiring process is evolving at a rapid rate: This is due to a phenomenally healthy job market as well as the advancement of sourcing and screening technology. As such, talent are in high-demand; this is especially true for viable talent who happen to be seeking new opportunities. 

Hiring has shifted from pleasing the client to meeting the demands of both the talent and the clients: Recruiters are becoming more assertive in encouraging their client partners to meet the demands of an ever-shrinking (and sometimes unattainable) talent pool. Potential employers are adapting as well by developing initiatives to cultivate a more attractive company culture, offering flexible work schedules, and making the hiring experience more enjoyable and accommodating for would-be new staff.

 Looking for a creative, marketing, digital or proposal development job?

This type of employment market presents both opportunities and challenges for job seekers: Typically, when an individual declares their openness to new opportunities, they're likely being contacted by recruiters claiming to have their next dream role. Yet many of these opportunities result in dead ends. 

Other hopefuls are either hounded by recruiters touting ill-fitting matches — or the job-seekers themselves are looking for the right slot in all the wrong places. All these factors can potentially slow down a qualified talent’s job quest. Below are five job search tips on avoiding potential obstacles in today’s hiring market— and accelerate and streamline the search process. 

Polish Your Online Presence

Consider how you appear to potential employers online. About 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn as a major sourcing tool, while 100% of recruiters search online across all job boards. A fully functional online presence will help job seekers attract interest. 

  • Prioritize accuracy: All online profiles should be concise, relevant, and up to date. The amount of information posted (such as phone number, email address and link to an online resume) depends on the comfort level of the individual. Any relevant information you provide will expedite the connection process with a recruiter. 
  • Provide a current resume: This will demonstrate your level of seriousness about landing a coveted role — and simultaneously help ensure recruiters only contact you with appropriate opportunities. 
  • Maintain uniformity: Job seekers should have all materials ready and easily accessible for recruiters—but of equal importance, your information across all online job search platforms should be consistent. This eliminates any confusion and whittles down potential roles to only those best-suited to your experience. 
  • Distinguish yourself: An online profile should also include a professional photo (not a selfie!), and most importantly, an elevator pitch written in the third person. This is essential, as waiting until after the recruiter contacts you to craft a timely pitch leaves a window of opportunity for another applicant to snag the role. A concise description of your talents—especially when included with a cover letter in your applications—allows the recruiter to  efficiently present all relevant materials to an employer. 
  • Fine-tune your materials: Job experience should be written with the job opening in mind. While an error-free resume is important for any applicant,  writers and editors, for instance, maybe held to an especially high standard — thus, a typo could be especially problematic. Designers should make their online portfolio as clean and functional as their work. For example, broken links or an outdated profile may distract potential employers from the applicant’s work. 

Punctuality Is Key

Job-seekers should check all means of communication daily. This communication process should include emails, voicemails, and job board postings. For passive job searching, checks should be made at least two times per week. Recruiters will try to reach potential candidates by any means necessary. Responding to messages on a regular basis will not only demonstrate your punctuality, but potentially provide a leg up against the competition by expediting the process. 

Network Consistently—Even When You’re Not Seeking a Role 

When networking, think long-term: Networking with recruiters—even if you’re not currently on the hunt for your next role—is crucial. Accepting messages and connections from recruiters even if you currently have no plans to transition into another role will build professional relationships for the future. Talent who make clear both their long and short-term goals and consistently communicate with other professionals may have an advantage down the line if and when an ideal role happens to become available. 

Know Your Worth 

  • Research and understand expected salary and rates: Professional freelancers, for instance, should have a realistic idea of the compensation package they can command based on their skills, contract duration, and estimated hours involved. Depending on the client(s), their arrangements may involve unpredictable or sporadic hours with occasional lag times between assignments—all of which might be cause for a freelancing rate to become inflated. On the other hand, a long-term contract providing 20 hours of work per week (with the potential for  full-time) might deflate the freelancer's hourly rate as constant work is assured. 
  • Consider compensation needs: Any creative talent considering a contract or full-time position should consider all of their compensation needs when settling the question of payment. Requirements such as health benefits, a flexible or remote work schedule, opportunities for advancement, and more, can all have an impact on the outcome of an employee's total compensation. Added benefits can often offset commute costs or provide insurance coverage that otherwise may not be accessible. 
  • Consider long-term career goals: Compromising on a certain rate in exchange for a positive company culture or advancement opportunities might lead to career growth and the possibility of rate increases in the future. Taking a position at a slightly lower rate may be a foot-in-the-door entry to a very elusive industry (think pharmaceuticals or oil and gas) and set the stage now for becoming a senior-level project manager and climbing up the org chart later on. There may be times when a salary set-back is actually a setup for something greater.

Establish Transparency in the Job Search 

The role of a recruiter is to make the interview and hiring process easier, quicker and more enjoyable for both the talent and clients; this includes advocating for the talent. The best recruiters assume that every job-seeker is actively engaged in multiple employment conversations and likely scheduling new and more exciting interviews each day. Talent want their recruiter to be open with them and provide honest, accurate feedback throughout the interview process. Recruiters, in turn, rely on the talent's candid feedback and status updates. After an interview, applicants should notify the recruiter if: 

  • A few days have passed with no word from the prospective employer
  • Positive feedback is being received from another possible employer
  • A counter-offer is potentially in the works. 

While a recruiter ultimately has no control over the speed of their client's selection process, they still may be able to nudge a decision in the right direction. Sometimes, alerting a prospective employer that an applicant could be off the market soon might prompt an offer—or free up the applicant to accept another position. The bottom line: Honest communication is not only advantageous to all—it is crucial to the success of the relationship between a job seeker and a recruiter.