(Originally published on J&J.com)
In today’s hyper-connected world, it goes without saying that technology has disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives.
You can tap an app to hire a car instead of hailing a cab, use a boxed-food delivery service to whip up a gourmet dinner in place of making a trip to the grocery store—and even use your smartphone to communicate with your doctor.
Yet there’s one important area of life that remains stubbornly stuck in the past: the job search. Lots of people still submit their resumes the old-school way through job boards, which can be a largely inefficient and unproductive process.
But according to Johnson & Johnson’s Vice President of Global Talent Acquisitionthat’s about to change.
According to Gehring, recruiting is on the cusp of a massive overhaul that will rely on tech-driven solutions to yield a better fit for hiring managers—and fewer frustrations for candidates.
“In our day-to-day lives, we have come to expect rich, highly-designed digital interactions,” Gehring says. “If you compare the way you engage with such user-focused services as Netflix or Amazon to the way you go after your next job, the difference is incredibly large.”
Gehring is hoping to lead the charge in transforming job-hunting as we know it, so we sat down with him to hear more about the direction recruiting is headed—and how candidates can retool their own approach to looking for a new gig in 2018.
1) Make Your Search Personal
If there’s a company you’d love to work for, or you’ve found a job posting that you’re psyched about, the smartest way to get your foot in the door is to leverage a personal connection with a current employee.
“By far, the most successful approach is relationship-centric,” Gehring says. “Thanks to LinkedIn and Twitter, it has never been easier to find and reach out to people.”
So if you’re interested in a company, he suggests connecting with staffers by commenting on posts they write and hopefully sparking a dialogue about your area of expertise and passion for the organization’s mission.
Once you’ve established a rapport, when the right position comes around, you’ll have an advocate who can vouch for the value you could add to the company.
2) Skip the Cover Letter
You heard that right. “Nobody reads it,” Gehring says, adding that your overall online presence has taken the place of that old-school stand-by as a more authentic window into your professional life.
As for your resume, Gehring advises keeping it short—and focused on outcomes you’ve achieved, rather than activities. “I hardly look at resumes because they are not an accurate or validated representation of skills,” he explains. “My biggest advice for candidates is to look at their brand and how they come across professionally online. Not enough people take this seriously.”
So instead of spending hours fine-tuning your resume and crafting that perfect cover letter, pour your time into developing a web personality by doing things like writing LinkedIn posts and linking to thought-provoking content others have published.
“If a recruiter is looking for people with your background, your name should pop up online as a no-brainer for them to reach out to for an initial conversation,” Gehring says.
3) Give Yourself the Benefit of the Doubt
Under Gehring’s direction, Johnson & Johnson is in the process of rethinking recruiting strategies to better hone in on the right candidates. One area the company is looking to address is how to make sure job openings appeal to a diverse set of people.
For example, research has shown that when women and men read a traditional job description, featuring a bulleted list of qualifications, they assess their eligibility very differently.
“A woman might look at 10 bullet points and determine she only meets eight of them, so she’s not the right fit and doesn’t apply,” Gehring explains. “But a man who is equally qualified might overestimate his abilities, thinking he satisfies eight out of 10 requirements, and apply for the job.”
Luckily, forward-thinking companies like Johnson & Johnson are revamping job descriptions in order to help avoid such bias—but in the meantime, women should give themselves more leeway when deciding whether or not they have ample experience for a potential role.
4) Research the Culture and Mission
In addition to a candidate’s fundamental skill set, another important quality recruiters look for is whether that person is also a good cultural fit. Some very talented individuals might not thrive in a certain setting, so you need to prove that you have what it takes to be successful within the company.
In order to help demonstrate that you’re a great match, do your homework about the company’s philosophies and mission. “Ask yourself a couple of key questions: Are your personal values aligned with theirs? Are you passionate about the same things the company is?” Gehring says.
He also suggests setting up a Google alert to receive news about the company—and following what the CEO and other key leaders at the company are saying about the industry at large.
Bottom line: In order to impress the hiring manager, you have to express what Gehring calls “purpose behind paycheck.”
“It’s not just about your career and upward potential,” Gehring explains. “Talk about how you can contribute to the company’s broader objectives.”