December 19, 2011, 12:19 PM — If you're sitting in your office right now, take a glance at the co-worker on your left and then at the co-worker on your right. Chances are one of them is looking to leave the company. Or perhaps it's you.
Some 53% of IT workers are actively or passively searching for a new job right now, according to a Computerworld survey of 431 readers. What's more, 46% of the respondents say it's been five years or more since their last job search.
For those who are new to job hunting in a Web 2.0 world, the hiring landscape is nearly unrecognizable. For starters, a lot of employers have stopped advertising open positions because they are deluged with resumes, many of which come from unqualified candidates. Today, recruiters and HR professionals have a suite of digital tools at their fingertips that can, for example, identify the 10 best job candidates on a social networking site within seconds. The trick for job hunters, then, is to make themselves easy to find on these sites.
An IT executive in Raleigh, N.C., discovered the importance of this trick first-hand last spring, when he found himself out of work after 18 years with the same company.
"I sure had not been in the job-seeking mode for a long time, and I was surprised at the process of getting your accomplishments and responsibilities 'out there,' " says the executive, who recently turned 50. While he had established a LinkedIn profile when the site came into existence, he hadn't updated it in years, nor had he saved a copy of his old resume. "I was starting from scratch," he says.
Recruiters agree that it's best to start looking for a new job while you are still employed and can build a robust network of contacts. Here, recruiters and savvy job finders reveal the top six must-have weapons in any job seeker's toolkit.
1. Your First Stop: LinkedIn
With more than 100 million registered users, LinkedIn is the world's de facto job board and is widely used by recruiters and job seekers alike.
"Nowadays, LinkedIn is your first interview, and it happens without you," says David E. Perry, managing partner of Ottawa-based recruiting firm Perry-Martel International and co-author of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0. "A hiring manager or recruiter takes a look at your background [on your LinkedIn profile] and makes the decision as a go or a no-go."