The digital job market can be a challenge for older professionals. While there isn’t an exact age, don’t feel bad if you’re intimidated by all of the technology surrounding the job search. Any pre-millennial is in the same boat, struggling to keep up with the ever-changing face of technology.
Apart from learning new technology, you have to be on top of all the jargon and acronyms. SEO? SMM? Algorithms? Plus, there’s Facebook, the gig economy, and eCommerce. It can all be pretty overwhelming, especially if you’ve been out of the job market for a while.
Where do you go for answers? The answer is pretty surprising….a teenager.
The youngest generation has grown up with a constant stream of changing technologies. They are flexible, patient, and creative problem solvers.
Today’s teens know more about privacy settings, pings, and bots than any adult I know. And when they don’t, they are game to figure out the problem. Let the teenager in your life help you navigate the digital landscape and boost your job search to the next level.
1) Have a SEO Friendly Resume
SEO stands for search engine optimization. A document or website that is SEO friendly is peppered with keywords and phrases that stand out to search engines like Google. What does this have to do with your resume? In the age of LinkedIn, Monster, and a whole slew of other online recruiting sites, your resume is one of millions. When recruiters search for suitable candidates on these sites, they are using keywords that go into that sites search algorithms. Your resume needs to be up to date and needs these keywords included in order to get found.
Get a teenager’s advice on your resume. Simple things, like your font choice, might be sabotaging your efforts online. Teens are up to date on design, buzzwords, and changes to search algorithms.
They can help you update your resume to look hip and eliminate things that make you seem passed your prime. For instance, did you know the phrase “excellent written communication skills” can actually be an interview killer? Some of the things you were taught to highlight are considered a given, or even irrelevant, in new markets.
2) Social Media
Social media is a reality in the world, It’s not a trend or a fad. If you are on any social media platform, then you are visible to potential employers. They will search for you and they will make judgements based on your profiles.
Removing yourselves from these platforms is not the answer. In fact, that might hurt your potential even more! Professionals today have a curated, controlled social media presence. It’s important to keep profiles updated, check privacy settings to control what people can see, and stay up to date on new platforms.
Teenagers have always had their proverbial fingers on the cultural pulse. They will know when a platform is popular, established, or passé. Have your teen help you Google yourself. What comes up? Search all the social media platforms together and let them explain how each one works. Which platforms are the most suited for your field or message?
Have them double check your privacy settings to make sure that strangers only see the carefully curated side of you. Depending on your needs, you could even hire a teen to be your virtual assistant. If you don’t have time to update all your platforms, pay them to do it for you.
3) What the Heck is a Personal Brand?
Before the internet, your company’s reputation was separate from your personal life. If you worked for a solid company, their name would be your brand as you moved up in your career. Things work a little differently now. We are living in a constantly connected world, and the company’s reputation doesn’t necessarily reflect on you, for better or for worse.
Personal branding is a cumulative impression based on everything that can be found about you in the digital world. It could be customer reviews, written about you or by you, social media profiles, or even a lack of data. When potential clients and employers seek you out, they want to get a clear idea of your professional reputation.
Remember that scathing review of the Denny’s down the street that you posted on Yelp? You might want to take that down… or at least remove some of the choice language. When you are intentional about what you put out into the world, your personal brand will be more reputable.
There are many ways to build your personal brand, but almost all of them include digital content. You might start a blog or pioneer a new platform. It’s important to know what’s out there and that your branding is consistent. Teens are great about creating digital content that feels cohesive on all platforms. They can help you with share settings, automatic posting, and image. When you are trying to attract professional offers, you need to set yourself apart from the competition.
I said earlier that “communication skills” was an outdated phrase, but that doesn’t mean that communication isn’t important. Digital communication is just a different animal than you’re familiar with, it can be hard to know all the ins and outs. How many times have you seen CEOs and politicians get in trouble for an offhand tweet?
You bet those professionals in positions of great authority have “excellent written communication skills”, but they still don’t know what they’re doing. The lines between personal and professional communication are blurring, so you need to know what is valued in the professional world.
Ask a teenager about your options. How do people contact you? What do you need to give them? A phone number is rarely enough to have on your resume. Your digital presence is part of your ability to communicate with employers and clients.
Your teenager can help you set up a professional email address, a LinkedIn account, and any other social media profile. They may even be able to create a website for you! They can teach you how to interact on each platform, so you don’t confuse a comment and a DM. (That means direct message, by the way.)
5) New Technologies
If you are still carrying around a Blackberry, you may want to read this next section closely. Technology has about a two-year refresh rate. It can be horrifying to realize that your three-year-old phone is already four generations behind the newest models. I have good news and bad news. The good news is, a lot of those updated models only make small upgrades that won’t affect your daily use. The bad news is, the longer you go without updating your tech the harder it is to catch up. Those little updates add up!
What does this have to do with your job search? Everything. Businesses, employers, and clients want to know that you are up to date with technological advances. Even if you don’t have access to the newest and the best technologies, you should still know where the road is headed and how to access that knowledge.
Teens are techno-ecstatic. They love gadgets and new technologies. They build robots in school and code their own apps. Even if they’ve never laid eyes on the coolest new stuff, they will know about it. Geek out with your teen and consolidate that new, cool tech knowledge into some future forward interview answers.
6) New Modes of Success
Traditional job searches are for traditional jobs. The future of the labor market is now, and employment trends are shifting in new directions. In the last two decades, people have changed careers more, started small businesses, seen the boom of eCommerce, and created a new buzzword for working freelance. In the era of the gig economy and digital nomads, now is the perfect time to take a risk.
Rather than sending out cover letters and resumes printed on high quality linen paper, consider some alternate modes of success. What is it that you really want from your career? Money? Fulfillment? Creative outlet? Flexibility? The way we measure success is changing, so now is your opportunity to shift gears.
Teenagers are on the forefront of the cultural shift toward personal fulfilment. They have entrepreneurial spirits, and they want different things out of life than their parents and grandparents. Talk to a teenager about their aspirations, even their work experience.
Teens even as young as 14 years old are taking opportunities to gain valuable experience in new fields, like game development and eCommerce. Talk to them about their future plans with an open mind and an open heart. They may inspire you.
Job searches in the digital age are different from anytime in the last three decades. Time tested adages are being thrown by the wayside in favor of newer technologies and communication methods. It is tempting to believe that we are at the top of the pendulum swing, but I think we’re somewhere closer to the middle. Technology’s momentum is picking up and will carry us through the next decade, or two, before things turn back. If you don’t keep learning, you’ll be left behind.
Young people today have been raised in a fast-paced world. Their context is different from previous generations. They don’t know anything other than total connection, constant information, and endless opportunities for total public failure. They have developed grit and resiliency, not to mention a superhuman flexibility in the face of technological obstacles. They navigate these treacherous waters for the joy of it. It is time to recognize them as the prodigies they are!
That being said, they are still teenagers. Let them help you, learn from them, but always use your best judgement. When all else fails, try turning it off and turning it back on again. Good luck!