DEAR JOYCE: At 50-plus, I'm looking as hard as I can, but while employers apparently like the experience on my resume, they're not calling. Maybe they're wondering if my thinking and skills are passé, making it doubtful that I can compete using today's new techno tools. What can I do to look more current and employable? -- R.E.A.
Here we go again! In the 1990s' digital dawn, job seekers on the north side of 40 discovered that early adoption of the Internet to move their resumes gave them a youthful aura. Recruiters and employers began to see them as not only experienced and competent, but up to date. History is repeating itself today.
You'll come across as younger and not stuck in yesterday's thinking by mastering the brave new world of social media and related digital advancements as you job-hunt. But think of the new social media technology as an add-on, not a replacement for your hard-won understanding of the job chase.
(Here's a quick self-check of whether you've got barnacles hanging off the sides of your brain: Google "How Millennial Are You? By Jeanne C. Meister," who is the co-author of the forthcoming book "The 2020 Workplace." Her blog includes a link to a Pew Research Center quiz. I'm not telling what my score was, but it lit a match under me.)
GETTING ON BOARD. How can you play catch-up? In addition to looking for on-site workshops (try community colleges and ask reference librarians), read books that are starting to appear, and do a Web search for "free Webinars social media job search" and "free Webinars social media recruiting."
"Technology is a job hunter's friend -- but only if you use it correctly," says Dr. Richard Bayer, chief operating officer of The Five O'Clock Club (fiveoclockclub.com) a national career coaching and outplacement organization.
ETIQUETTE TIPS. "How you use technology speaks volumes about your skills, your style, your ability to connect with future employers and your manners," says Bayer. "Use the technologies available -- like Facebook and other social networking sites, e-mail and your Blackberry -- in the correct way to improve your chances of getting a job in this crowded market," Here's a sliver of Bayer's suggestions.
What to do:
-- Do use mobile devices only in a pinch. Many people type rapidly and badly with their thumbs on BlackBerrys and similar devices.
-- Do read before sending. The typical mobile message has at least two typos in it because it's composed in a hurry, and in quick reaction to an inbound e-mail. The tone tends to be terse or glib and subject to misinterpretation.
-- Do network through LinkedIn and other social media sites.
What not to do:
-- Don't use a cell phone for telephone interviews if you can avoid it. Sound quality can be a problem and background noise is ubiquitous. You may not be able to communicate energy or enthusiasm without shouting.
-- Don't use instant messaging for first-time communication. IM is a permission-based concept. People invite others of their choosing to interrupt them with messages. Rarely are candidates invited to use this technology by prospective employers.
-- Don't be a prisoner to rigid rules that don't work for you. If you receive consistently positive responses to the e-mails you send to interviewers, then e-mail away. If you trust your cell phone and don't like the idea of waiting around all day by your land line for a prospective employer to call, put your cell number on your resume. Use trial and error to find out what is and isn't working in your job search.
SURVIVING CHANGE. In "Brave New World," his classic 1932 novel about a futuristic society, Aldous Huxley reminded readers that in a realm of radically transformed existence, both positive and negative outcomes result. Start learning the new social media and other digital technologies right now. But do it at night to save prime daylight hours for contacts and interviews.