Job candidates, did you know that 65% of recruiters in a recent study said that the lack of skilled candidates in the market is their single largest obstacle to hiring? That means they are looking for you right now and can’t find you.  And you have the skills many are looking for.

What does this mean for YOU and the social media actions you take? Or don’t take…

I was a hiring manager for decades, and it’s my job now to help candidates to understand “the other side of the table,” and get hired quickly, at a higher income level.

First, the good news! According to Jobvite’s Annual Social Recruiting Survey, today’s hiring environment is much improved:

  • 69% of recruiters reported that their company’s hiring has increased in the past year.
  • 86% of recruiters don’t anticipate their companies making layoffs in the next 12 months.
  • Only 10% of recruiters say their companies plan to automate jobs in the next 2-3 years.

However, for you, the candidate, you still have to compete and struggle to “win” your next job ­ and that’s not easy. Right? So let me share 4 secrets from the hiring side of the table.

Hiring Secret #1: Culture is MORE than just a buzzword! Get with the “culture” program.

According to JobVite, 60% of recruiters rate culture fit of high importance when making a hiring decision — topped only by (you guessed it) previous job experience (67%). So what are things you can do to ensure you score high on the “culture” rating?

  • Research: Read about your target company’s corporate values on their website. Often, their career page also adds more cultural insights since that is where they are trying to attract new talent.
  • Be open to diverse perspectives in the interview. I believe all employees need to learn flexibility and agility to work in a variety of cultures and companies need a high “value bar” respecting diversity. Be proud of your ability to work cross-boundary and cross-culture and to be open to diverse perspectives.
  • On your social media – especially on LinkedIn – be sure to share your experiences showing how you’ve worked cross-team and highlight your ability to be highly collaborative. Don’t assume recruiters and hiring managers know that!

Hiring Secret #2: Employee referrals rank very high in identifying highly-qualified candidates.

The Jobvite Survey respondents said: The best talent comes from employee referrals (34%), just behind the high quality of internal candidates (38%). That’s practically neck and neck! What that means for you is:

  • On your LinkedIn profile, be sure to have at least one recommendation per job. Solicit positive reviews from ex-bosses, peers, or past subordinates. Don’t waste your time on the endorsements that appear further down on the LinkedIn page.
  • In your job search process, conduct a one-two punch for every position you apply to. One: Apply online with the best quality application possible. Two: Network strategically to reach people you know AND/OR total strangers. While you are building those new relationships, ask them a key question: “Will you please submit my credentials to your company’s employee referral system?”

Hiring Secret #3: Recruiters judge you on your social media presence.

The overwhelming majority (87%) of recruiters find LinkedIn most effective when vetting candidates during the hiring process — especially candidates under 45 (90%), according to the Jobvite Survey. So, let’s get right down to what YOU need to have in place on LinkedIn to be found by those hundreds of thousands of recruiters:

  • Little to no presence on LinkedIn hurts your credibility as well as your employability. Hiring managers and HR personnel are looking for you on LinkedIn but they are not finding you! Viveka Von Rosen, LinkedIn expert recommends you schedule an hour at a time on your calendar to build your best profile; draw from your resume and write a powerful profile in the summary section.
  • If you do have a presence, is it out of date, using old terminology, or missing some key recommendations from ex-bosses? Check out what Viveka calls LinkedIn’s “Building Blocks.” These additional sections (like Publications, Awards, Organization, Projects, Skills, Contact info, etc.) give you ample opportunity to showcase your skills and your experiences. Most people skip these special features, but you can use them to increase your credibility and help others find you as a great candidate.
  • Be sure you clean up all grammatical errors, typos, acronyms, slang, and any “lazy language.” Those can quickly put you in the “no” pile if you are an applicant!

Hiring Secret #4: Recruiters and hiring managers can be biased, just like anyone else – make it work for you.

According to the recent Jobvite survey, dressing “too casually” impacts hiring decisions for 62% of recruiters. Your photo on LinkedIn needs to look like you would look at work. Not a party picture with a bar in the background, and a cut-off arm hugging your shoulders. No children, no puppies! And smile! Get somebody to take your photo a simple background. More tips to make that great first impression and prevent a bias are:

  • Be early and prepared for a phone interview. Don’t be that person who says “Oh, it’s just a phone screen.” If you’re not ready 5 minutes early for a phone meeting, you’re late.
  • Be 15 minutes early for face-to-face interviews. Good grooming rules! Be sure you have well-kept clothing, nice breath, and no body odor; skip the cologne or perfume.

Job candidates, I know you want your unique brand to shine and you want to be sure you are selecting the best company to work for. However, while you’re in job search mode, to make sure the best company selects you, learn the new rules of play and raise the bar on every step you take. Take an online course if you have to. Who knows, it might hold the key to the perfect job you’ve always wanted.