Tag Archives: jobs and careers

Why Are We Still Talking About a Skills Gap?

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The skills gap that has been in employment news since the mid-1990s continues to be an issue in some areas of the marketplace. The old truism of higher education providing a sufficient supply of qualified and skilled workers for meeting the demands of the job market is in jeopardy. Part of the problem is the rapidly changing job requirements, thanks to many different variables such as the global economy, the changing demographics of the workforce, and even Gordon Moore’s Law about how technology changes by leaps and bounds every 18 to 24 months or so. When we experience increases in microprocessor speed and lower power use–all that stuff that makes things faster while using less battery power means a revolutionizing of the “footprint” of new and current personal handheld (and other) devices and “tools” used in nearly every profession. It’s no surprise that the necessary job skills for these technological advances change in parallel, requiring individuals to make adjustments to their career strategy.

The skills needed to keep pace with these technological advances quickly outpace what many colleges and universities can do to provide the necessary supply of qualified workers, much the way Austin traffic improvement projects are out of date by the time they are completed. In some cases, companies try to pick up the slack with internal training programs, internships, and apprenticeships. In others, community colleges offer quicker solutions for helping fill the skills gap by offering Associate degrees or courses that lead to certain types of licenses or certifications.

While some fields profess a solid inventory of talent for white-collar office positions (usually with bachelor’s, masters or doctorates in tow), the struggling manufacturing sector increasingly may have to rely on trade schools for skilled workers to help add fuel to the nation’s economic engine.

It was Alexander Hamilton who insisted that the future growth of the United States was tied to manufacturing. If Hamilton’s political (and personal) foe, Thomas Jefferson, had had his way, post-Revolutionary War America would have been an agrarian society (Jefferson once wrote that, “…the class of artificers [i.e., manufacturers] as the panders of vice and the instruments by which the liberties of a country are generally overturned.”).

Perhaps we’d be having a different skills gap conversation today.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

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Donn LeVie Jr. (The ONE Hire Authority) is a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and has worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). Donn is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), Runner-Up of the 2016 International Book Award for Business: Careers, Silver Medal Winner of the 2016 Global eBook Award, and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).  

Donn leads career strategy seminars (for job seekers and for hiring managers wanting to know how to spot talent) at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. He also offers a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.

Conference planners: Do you need an informative and entertaining keynote speaker or a professional development seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com for more information or use the Contact page on this blog.

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6 Reasons Why Public Sector Employees Need a Social Media Presence

LinkedIn All starPart of my involvement with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) annual conference is providing personal career consultations with conference attendees. Many attendees work in the public sector, and over the course of individual conversations with folks who signed up for personal consultations, I was surprised to learn that many of them have no active involvement with social media platforms. Many believed they had to fully immerse themselves on a variety of platforms, but were relieved to know that that’s not the case at all. Some have Facebook pages, and some have LinkedIn profiles, but in most instances, either their LinkedIn profiles are incomplete, or they simply have a presence and are not actively participating – or both.

So briefly, here are six reasons why public sector employees need an active social media presence (primarily for LinkedIn) for growing their careers:

  1. An active social media presence makes you more visible to decision makers and hiring managers. Social media has rendered organizational “gatekeepers” obsolete, because with an active social media presence on the right platforms, you can gain access to these people. Without an active social media presence, you are anonymous.
  2. Some studies show that between 33 and 67 percent of all positions filled come about through referrals. That’s justification enough for you to continue building your network of contacts on LinkedIn.
  3. Social media (more precisely, networking platforms) allows you to promote and leverage your expertise as a resource for others. Hiring managers are always looking for problem solvers, game changers, and solutions providers. And all hiring managers want experts on their team.
  4. Social media connections allow you to build a level of mutual familiarity. One of the first steps to gaining access to decision makers is to first establish a degree of mutual familiarity. Make your connections strategic for any potential mutual exchange of value.
  5. Familiarity with your network contacts over time leads to trust. When you consistently contribute value to conversations with others, “like” their comments, or “retweet” their Tweets, that familiarity can lead to mutual trust.
  6. Mutual trust with your network contacts can lead to direct access. Hiring managers, like the rest of us, want to work with people we are familiar with and who we trust. More often than not, those people advance to the head of the line for direct access.

What accelerates direct access to decision makers is having a polished professional brand that makes its way onto social media platforms through your website, blog, articles published in peer-reviewed journals, books, conference presentations, and so on. All of that goes in your LinkedIn profile. I cover building a professional brand in both of my books.

As i mentioned, there’s no need to be active on a wide variety of social media platforms – only a couple where decision makers are active will be sufficient. Besides this blog and my website, I am active on LinkedIn and Twitter. My business Facebook page automatically receives feeds from my blog posts and Twitter activity. I limit 98% of my posts to issues surrounding job and career strategies.

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her entourage are met at the doors to the Emerald City by a gatekeeper. They are only allowed entry after it’s pointed out to him that she’s wearing the ruby slippers, that were once on the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East. The gatekeeper knows that the Wizard would value the ruby slippers because they represented one thing:

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ACCOMPLISHMENT!  What are your ruby slippers?

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

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My name is  Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement(September 2015), Runner-Up of the 2016 International Book Award for Business: Careers, and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).  I lead career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. I also offer a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com for more information or use the Contact page on this blog.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie.

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HR Trends in Hiring You Need to Know

hr-changes

As social networking sites become more attuned to the needs of employers, research suggests that HR departments will change how they use video résumés, social and networking sites, and cover letters.

A study from 2009 found that:

  • 46% of employers (HR departments) prefered to receive résumés via email (41% attached; 5% embedded), 38% uploaded to the company web site (34% résumé copied in entirety; 4% in sections), and 7% preferred a paper résumé. None of the employers preferred to review a candidate’s résumé on a candidate’s own web page.
  • Companies with fewer than 100 employees preferred to receive résumés via email than larger compaines.
  • 71% of employers preferred the traditional chronological résumé format (21% prefer text format)
  • 56% of employers preferred a cover letter to accompany a résumé.

A 2015 study by the MacroThink Institute found that employer preferences were not projected to change for next two years. However, the use of video résumés was found to be a statistically significant change indicating a steady increase in the number of employers who will want to use video résumés two years from now.

The 2015 study suggested use of cover letters to decline over the next two years, but despite the expected growth of video résumés and decline of paper cover letters, the expected preference of cover letters is still nearly double that of video résumés.

Most practices and tools used by HR will remain relatively unchanged for the next couple of years, but social and professional networking, video résumés, and application tracking systems will become more prevalent.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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An Overlooked Fast Track to Your Next Job

Job board

Professional Association Job Boards: A Great Bet for Steamlining Your Career Strategy

Besides the Monster.com and TheLadders.com job boards of the world, there’s another type of online job board that I and many of my colleagues have used with great success over the years to find highly qualified job candidates. Many professional associations at the local, state, regional, and national level offer online job boards (or job banks) where employers can post job vacancies and members can post résumés. A smart career strategy includes posting your résumé to these job boards – especially at the local chapter level.

When I worked in the oil exploration industry, I could quickly find highly qualified candidate résumés from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) job bank list serv (way before the Internet was around). Later in my career, it was easy to locate qualified technical and product marketing writers through the local chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) online job bank.

A significant advantage such job boards offer is that some level of candidate prescreening is already addressed, especially at the local level and especially if you are active in the local chapter of that professional association. The probability of a hiring manager being personally familiar with a job candidate is much higher at the local level, especially in tight-knit professional communities. Attending local association meetings is a great way to network with others in your particular field, meet new colleagues, stay in touch with former co-workers, and add to your own technical or professional skills.

Many times I would find more than one qualified individual to bring in for an interview from these local association chapter job banks, and I very likely had worked with many candidates in the past, which made the vetting process quicker and easier since I already had some familiarity with their knowledge, skills, expertise, and likeability.

Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Join a professional association in your field and get involved with the local chapter by attending meetings, volunteer on a committee, write articles for the chapter newsletter, give chapter presentations.
  2. Get involved with the professional association on a larger scale, by writing articles for any peer-reviewed journals it publishes and by presenting at regional or national conferences.
  3. Ensure that the association’s job bank (especially the local branch) has your most recent achievement-focused résumé.

Don’t overlook the job banks in local professional associations; there’s less competition than with the larger generic boards mentioned previously and your name recognition factor will be much higher with hiring managers looking qualified candidates.

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Part 3: Do You Need Professional Career Help? Coaches, Recruiters, and Résumé Writers

Do I need Professional Help

YOU are the Best Option for Writing Your Cover Letter and Résumé

It’s been said that if you give a man a fish, you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and you have fed him for a lifetime. Having someone else develop your résumé for you is the equivalent of them giving you a fish for the day, and if that’s good enough for you today, fine. But what about tomorrow, and the day after that?  What you really want is to be fed for a lifetime by being able to write your own cover letters and résumés, and develop first-rate interview skills for whatever job or career change you find yourself in today and in the future. You might need some help, but you should be responsible for writing—and rewriting—that résumé and cover letter.

I don’t “typically” rewrite cover letters or résumés for career strategy clients because I don’t know their expertise anywhere close to their own knowledge of it. (I say, “typically,” because if a client really has no clue and they specifically request that I provide a rewrite, I will.) I do, however, suggest changes to résumés and cover letters that get clients out of the “I, me, my, mine” context approach, and encourage them to rethink their skills, knowledge, experience, and expertise in a manner that takes more of a consultant’s approach to solving other people’s problems. That means promoting how your expertise provides future benefits to the hiring manager.

No one but you knows the extent of the skill, the breadth of experience, the depth of knowledge, the decision making, the problem solving that goes behind every bulleted item on your résumé, and no one can express it better than you because you lived it. You can learn how to best express it in meaningful terms that address the needs of a hiring manager. That skill feeds you for a lifetime, and that’s what I teach in my books, seminars, personal consults (for subscribing organizations), and in 2016, online videos and workbooks.

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PART 2: Do You Need Professional Career Help? Coaches, Résumé Writers, Recruiters

Do I need Professional Help

Professional Résumé Writers

Let me start off right away with this: I am not a proponent of having someone else—a résumé writer, for example—document your professional skills, knowledge, and experience for your career strategy. Your mileage may differ if you’ve had a positive experience. No doubt there are truly skilled and knowledgeable résumé writers who understand how to best present your experience in a favorable light based on the information you provide them. But rephrasing your verbiage using a thesaurus and reformatting your content in a pleasing template will not necessarily garner the interest of a hiring manager.

Many résumé writers are freelance writers who perhaps specialize in business writing or business communications. Some may have certifications such as Certified Leadership & Talent Management Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), Nationally Certified Résumé Writer (NCRW), while others may have little or no experience in career counseling or in human resources – or even have years of experience vetting candidate résumés. Entrusting someone who does not have near the knowledge of your own experience as you do to write your résumé can be a risky investment.

What about using a Certified Resume Writer?

A “certified résumé writer” obtains certification by paying a fee to first joint a national association, pay another fee to have résumé samples reviewed, pay another fee for a certification review/exam, and if any part of the exam is failed, pay another fee for re-examination six or more months later. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are awarded for books published on writing résumés and cover letters, and for other education participation.

That’s all well and good and serves to provide some degree of competency for those who wish to become certified résumé writers (there are checklists and study guides available to help along the way).

A word about “guarantees” from anyone offering career help for money. No one can offer a guarantee that you will find a job with their personal assistance as there just are too many other variables beyond any one person’s control that influence one hiring manager’s decision to hire. Changes in hiring practices, job market fluctuations at different times and in different regions of the country, the overall up and down gyrations of the economy, even your likeability factor dictate to varying degrees decisions to hire. Beware of anyone making any kind of guarantees of finding you a job or career and requiring an upfront payment. The only guarantee that can be offered realistically with a résumé writing service is that you are satisfied that the résumé someone else wrote adequately reflects your skills, knowledge, and experience. If you aren’t satisfied, you’ll probably receive a free rewrite (something you can do for yourself).

But the question remains: who is the expert on your previous experience, skills, and knowledge? Who is the expert on what it took to help the organization achieve some higher strategic objective or revenue goal? Whose fingerprints should be all over the documents that attest to your expertise? Who knows best the long hours, the endless meetings, the challenges you met and overcame for every bulleted item on your résumé? I think you know the answer to those questions.

Next Post: Why YOU are the Best Option for Writing Your Résumé and Cover Letter

P.S. Many thanks to the folks who have recently elected to follow me on Twitter!

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Do You Need Professional Help? Coaches, Recruiters, and Résumé Writers

 Do I need Professional Help

 (This is the first of a 3-part blog post. The comments represent my own experience reinforced by nearly 30 years in various hiring manager positions where I have reviewed over one thousand cover letters and résumés, conducted hundreds of job interviews, and hired and managed countless technical/scientific, marketing, and communications professionals. Comments also reflect my experiences with hundreds of career strategy clients showing them how to shape a career strategy from the hiring manager’s perspective.)

In my May 2013 post on “Coaching” I related a story about participating in a panel discussion at a national conference with an HR representative, an executive coach, two professional recruiters, and a certified life coach.  We were asked to answer a variety of questions about the job market, résumés, cover letters, interviews, job and career strategies, and so on. But that experience revealed that not all career professionals are created equal. Refer to that post for the details.

Recruiters and Headhunters

Some companies use recruiters to screen résumés from applicants while others may use HR personnel (or internal recruiting subcontractors) for the task. Throughout most of my experience, hiring managers provide HR or a recruiter with the necessary requirements and prerequisites for the available position based on the overall team need.  When working with HR, they establish a competitive compensation package to start with. HR or the recruiter forwards to the hiring manager’s attention only those résumés that meet the job criteria. This approach streamlines the process for everyone involved and is an efficient way to determine which candidates deserve additional evaluation.

I have worked with internal and external recruiters in the past—some great; some not so great. The very good ones listen to what I need in a candidate and forward ONLY those résumés that meet that criteria. They also help candidates put a polish on certain elements of a résumé to better address job prerequisites. The not-so-good recruiters often forward résumés to me that reflect their own assessment of the candidate’s expertise, regardless of my stated requirements. But here’s the thing: a recruiter can forward to me a résumé that meets every single item on my “needs” list, but I, as the hiring manager, still have the final word on who gets called in for an interview. I need to get an in-person “feel” for a candidate not only through structured interview techniques, but also to gauge that candidate’s “likeability factor.”

Given that, Ladders.com reports that the average recruiter (not the hiring manager) spends six seconds scanning a résumé, looking at the candidate’s name, current and past titles, start and end dates of positions, employers and education. Hiring managers when first scrutinizing résumés spend about 10 seconds on the upper 2/3 of Page One. When recruiters are involved in the hiring process, résumés of people who meet the specific criteria as set by the hiring manager are forwarded on to the hiring manager for further evaluation.

While the use of recruiters can expedite that aspect of the hiring process, the organization must respond with expedited offers to qualified candidates to realize efficiencies and effectiveness. I’ve had many great candidates who were first vetted by recruiters become lost to competitors because the organization was slow to respond with a job offer, and any perceived cost savings associated with recruiters in the hiring process went out the window.

Using recruiters works for some and some folks steer clear of recruiters for many reasons. Just be sure you understand how the process works, and remember that the person who knows your career expertise best is you.

Next post: Résumé Writers

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3 Critical Factors for Getting a Job Offer: No. 1 – Your Value

adding-value

In my 25-plus years in different hiring manager positions for Fortune 500 companies, I have identified three variables that are of paramount importance for developing a successful career strategy or receiving a job offer: (1) How well your value (the benefits of your expertise, accomplishments) addresses the hiring manager’s issues and needs, and (2) the strength of the continuum of belief (those elements of value you provide) you establish with the hiring manager as you proceed through the entire hiring process; and (3) your value proposition, which is simply a promise of value to be delivered to a specific audience. These three variables work together to help create and promote your professional brand.

Your Future Value to the Hiring Manager

Communicating your value to hiring managers is first conveyed in a cover letter. You have less than 7 seconds to get that hiring manager’s attention and you must get to the point immediately in your first sentence. What gets the attention of hiring managers most are the future benefits of your expertise, not the features of your past experience. In other words, your cover letter must have a tone that says, “here’s what I can do for you going forward,” and not simply a summary of your résumé. The purpose of the cover letter is to get the hiring manager to look at your résumé, so “sell the sizzle” of your expertise there.

A résumé that communicates your value to hiring managers is one that focuses on accomplishments and achievements more so than duties, responsibilities, and task completions – because everyone has duties and responsibilities. A résumé full of “duties and responsibilities” conveys your status to a hiring manager as just another potential employee looking for a job. Hiring managers want to bring on board problem solvers and experts with a track record of accomplishment.

You can’t just say “I have a proven track record” in your cover letter and then not have any accomplishments (preferably quantified accomplishments) to back up that statement. Hiring managers always look for the evidence on your résumé. And a reminder: completing a task associated with a duty or responsibility is NOT an accomplishment, yet I see this error all the time with many of my career strategy clients.

Becoming the hiring manager’s candidate of choice requires a basic understanding of an important marketing principle: Value is what connects the person with a need (the hiring manager) to the person who can fulfill that need (you, the candidate). It’s the same whether you are selling vacuum cleaners, cars, or your professional expertise. Doesn’t matter to the person buying a new vacuum cleaner or a new car how many vacuum cleaners or cars you sold in the past; what counts is can you address the cleaning requirements, transportation needs, or other issues of that person going forward –  whether that’ s a customer or a sales manager. If the person with the need perceives and believes that you offer real value, you have fulfilled that need and can make the sale—or receive the job offer.

The next post will address the second factor for getting a job offer:  Establishing a “Continuum of Belief.”

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The Ladders New Automated Résumé Review Tool: A Brief Review

Criteria evaluated with The Ladders Resume Review tool

Criteria evaluated with The Ladders Resume Review tool

The Ladders has made a great step forward for job seekers by creating the automated Résumé Review tool (located here: http://tinyurl.com/nul9hc9). As the above figure shows, the sections evaluated are : Length and Structure; Design; Contact Information; Professional Summary; Employment History; Education and Certification. Areas that pass the review are highlighted with a green icon while areas that should be augmented are highlighted with a red icon. Click on the appropriate icons and you get more information on what was good and what additional information may be necessary. Of course, the suggestions are based on the criteria defined by The Ladders.

Ladders Resume Review tool 2The tool also assesses where you are in your career based on information (job titles, job description) on your résumé. I uploaded the last résumé I used for a contracting position, and was surprised to find that the tool underestimated my experience level and management experience.

The tool also suggested that I add quantitative information to some accomplishments (my résumé has always included that information when that data was available); however, some bulleted accomplishments don’t easily lend themselves to quantitative value or the data simply is not available.

The tool also suggested that I add “at least 4” bullets to the older (>12 years) positions but then it also suggested I shorten the length of my résumé (which was just over 2 pages in length). If I added 4 bullet list items to the older positions (and former professions that had no bearing on my current profession), my résumé would have easily exceeded 3 pages in length.  There’s just no need to list that much information for older positions.

The tool doesn’t check for publications to your credit, foreign language abilities, patents or trademarks, and doesn’t seem to be able to differentiate reverse-chronological formats from functional or combination formats. For these reasons (and others I have written about in Strategic Career Engagement: The Definitive Guide for Getting Hired and Promoted and Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (Second Edition)), your particular résumé must address your unique expertise and value-add to get on the hiring manager’s short list.

It’s impossible for any automated tool to be a “one size fits all” solution. However, I have to give The Ladders Résumé Review tool a “thumbs up” as a good tool for ensuring that résumés contain the fundamental information hiring managers are looking for.

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4 Discreet Job Hunting Apps for Your Mobile Device

Try these apps on for size on your mobile device for discreet job hunting:

Switch. Switch provides job seekers with anonymity as they scan job postings, swiping right for gigs of interest. If your qualifications match what the employer needs, the parties can initiate an in-app chat. (iOS only)

Jobr. When a job is posted and a member refers a friend who lands the job, Jobr pays the member a $1,000 referral fee.

Jobmaster. Jobmaster aggregates job listings from some 1,000 job boards around the world. It’s free to search national job boards and 99 cents to access a job board devoted to a particular profession. (iOS only)

Savvy. Previously called “Poacht,” Savvy focuses on female job seekers. Users create profiles that include salary expectations, and employers sort through those profiles anonymously.

(Source: The Week, October 16, 2015)

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