The new economy is here. Are you still using old job search skills?

“In these uncertain economic times…”

That phrase entered our lexicon within the past few years, becoming the default lead-in sentence for politicians, newscasters, and CEOs alike before delivering bad news about jobs or the economy.

The recession took its toll on the workforce in different ways:

- Many fell victim to cutbacks and were laid off, as an estimated 8 million U.S. jobs were lost from 2007-2010.

- College graduates that eagerly entered their freshman year in the fall of 2005 or 2006 when unemployment was around 4.6% walked across the stage and directly into a buzz saw of twice that rate in May 2009 and 2010.

- Those remaining hunkered down at their current jobs during the “budget freeze” era, accepting that “not getting laid off is the new getting promoted.”

When will the economy fully be recovered? No one can say for sure as various industries will rebound faster than others, and some segments have been forever altered.

One thing’s for sure, a lot has happened during this time. Whether you’re ready to redouble your job search efforts, determined to get that first job and move out of your parent’s basement, or have decided to search for greener pastures, it’s a good idea to make sure your job search skills have evolved to match the new economy.

The new networking

A common mistake some job-seekers make is spending too much time searching for the perfect position on job boards. In reality, studies have shown that upward of 80% of jobs are found through networking.

So while “” is fine for seeing what companies are hiring and what positions are in demand, a better use of your time spent online would be cultivating your network.

Clearly, many people got the message and built out their network during the recession. Between March 2008 and March 2011, jumped from 20 million members to 100 million, making it one of the largest social networking sites on the web. A new person joins every second.

Instead of: Shotgunning resumes to random companies that you might want to work for

Try: Target a handful of places where you’d love to work, then use LinkedIn to cultivate a broad network and find a connection to someone that works there.

Sitting down for a cup of coffee with your old fraternity brother’s cousins’s girlfriend might seem like a long-shot, but if she knows of a job opening that hasn’t been advertised yet, she can hand deliver your resume to HR and bypass hundreds of competing candidates.

The new resume

There are some basic tips to make sure your standard resume is up to par:

- Save it as a PDF format so that it can be universally read. There are still just enough differences in Microsoft Word versions and Mac vs PC conversions that someone opening your perfectly aligned resume with the Copperplate Gothic Bold font could see something quite different than what you intended.

- Name your document Firstname_Lastname_Resume.pdf.  If you name your file something generic (resume.pdf) or unique to you (Mktg-Res-RevisedVer3.4.pdf), it will get lost if a recruiter saves all the documents in one folder.

- Likewise, use a professional email address. is good. is not.

But the traditional resume is not enough. You should also have a web presence.

For writers, designers, videographers and other creatives, a professional looking, up-to-date website with examples of your work is a must.

But what about your average Joe? Having your own website presence gives companies a landing page when they Google you (and yes, they will Google you), and is easier than you think.

Step 1) Secure your URL

Head over to a site such as and register your name. Of course, the chances of the domain being available is a lot greater if your name is Horatio Knickerbocker vs John Smith, so you might need to get creative by adding your middle initial, a nickname, or another word such as “online” to the name.

Step 2) Set up your website

One of the fastest and easiest ways to set up a web presence is through a site called ( This allows you to add a description of who you are and what you do, a quick photo, and links to your social media profiles.

Step 3) Redirect people to your profile

Go back to and find a “URL Redirect” section under your account and point your personal domain name ( to the page that you created ( This gives you an easier to remember, more streamlined version that will appear higher in search engines.

Note: For a more robust website, see my article “How to Create a Personal Website.”

The new power suit

In simpler times, picking out an outfit for an interview was easy. For men, it was as simple as getting a navy suit, a crisp white shirt and a power tie. But now that some offices seemingly mandate hoodies and jeans as standard dress, things get complicated.

To be clear, when on an interview, you should always look as professional as possible, and in many cases that means a suit and tie. But the key is knowing your audience. A Wall Street finance job will be much different than a startup in Silicon Valley.

If a full suit and tie feels too much for the company culture you are meeting with, you could lose the tie. Another option is to keep the dress pants, dress shirt, and tie, but lose the jacket. And in some cases, the best mix of “casual yet respectful” is a dress shirt and jacket paired with a pair of new, clean, dark jeans.

Consider the advice of former Apple, Inc evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who encourages people to “dress for a tie” in business meetings. He says:

If you show up wearing ripped jeans a hoodie to a formal meeting where everyone else is wearing suits, you’re saying “I don’t respect you”… if you show up wearing a suit and oozing style to a casual meeting where everyone else is dressed down, you’re saying “I am better than you”… shoot for a relatively even match.

The new portfolio

The photos we take, the videos we shoot, and the journalism we read have all gone digital. No longer the sole realm of design and photography creatives, the portfolio has gone digital as well.

The concept is simple… why tell the interviewer about the skills you have, when you can do one better and show them?

- Are you a marketer that worked on an extensive online campaign? Take screenshots of the website, ad banners, and emails that were sent.

- Are you an event planner that hosted a successful event for a client? Display promotional materials, multiple photos from the day, and written testimonials from clients.

- Are you the director of fundraising for a non-profit? Wow them with a short video of the kids that your company is striving to help.

Best of all, you no longer need to lug in a heavy laptop, power it up, and find room on someone’s desk to display your highlights. With the advent of the Apple iPad and other tablets, you can create a compelling portfolio and simply hand the device to the interviewer for them to swipe through at their own pace.

The new negotiation

In the past, when pressed for salary requirements, you might have taken your current compensation, added 20%, and hoped for the best. Or took a wild guess at what the job was paying. Or outright lied through your teeth.

Now, technology has leveled the playing field. Sites like and give you up-to-date, competitive salary ranges for most every job in every industry. On the site, you can even see specific feedback on specific companies.

While many are hesitant to haggle over salary at all given the recent job climate, the fact is that if you do your homework and approach the conversation with data to back up your argument, most companies have wiggle room above and beyond their initial offer. The key is to ask.


As “these uncertain economic times” start to develop a bit more certainty, there are several key things that you can do to improve your chances at landing the job you want. Update your job skills to the new economy and give yourself the best possible chance to succeed.