As the quarantine period rolls on, I’m sure many of us have found ourselves increasingly challenged to occupy our time in interesting and productive ways — and even though we’d all rather return to the “normal” state of affairs, I’ve been inspired to see many people using their extra bandwidth to get themselves in great shape, eat better, learn new skills, or indulge in some home improvement projects they’ve been putting off.

There are only so many shows one can binge-watch on Netflix, after all.

On my end, I’ve taken this opportunity to finally catch up on a long list of career-related tools and websites I’ve been saving up, hoping some day to have the time to formally review them.  And while most of these new technologies end up being fairly underwhelming, and not adding anything really new to the job search equation, a few of them stood out – and I thought might be worthwhile to share.

1) Carmen Resume Analysis Tool (www.carmen.co)

As most “veteran” job hunters are aware, there have been a number of online tools invented aimed at helping professionals improve their resume performance and fine-tune their keywords in a manner more likely to help them advance through computerized hiring systems.  Examples include resunate.com, rezscore.com, and the locally-based leader of the pack, jobscan.co.

Recently, however, I came across a similar tool offered for free throughout the Carmen.co job portal — and frankly, so far it’s emerged as my favorite of the bunch!  Whereas some of the other sites come across to me as a bit outdated (resunate) or shallow (rezscore), or might be price-prohibitive for certain users (Jobscan), Carmen’s tool doesn’t cost a dime and provides some useful keyword-analysis functionality in a very user-friendly fashion.  All you need to do is visit the site, run a search for the kind of job you’re targeting, and then use the additional search bar that then pops up, under the main boxes, to upload your resume and have the site analyze how well it matches your target opportunity.  As you’ll see, the site gives you a quick-and-dirty measurement of how well your resume aligns with the job in question, and then if you hit the “View Missing Skills” button, an additional screen opens up that flags all of the individual skill words you missed – allowing you to go back and add these into your document, theoretically increasing your odds of making it through a resume scan.

So for those who haven’t come across this tool yet, you might check it out and see if it might be a worthy addition to your ongoing job search efforts.  The only caveats?  The site’s database does seem to be a bit light in terms of the overall number of skills it recognizes, since many of the competencies (e.g. startup, QBR, community engagement) that I saw requested in the ads I submitted were ignored in the final analysis.  Additionally, the job board aspect of Carmen still doesn’t hold a candle to more established sites like Indeed.com, so at this stage I’d predominantly be recommending it for its free resume tool, versus usage of the job-finding functionality, itself.

2) Jobscan Career Change Tool (www.jobcan.co/career-change)

Not to be outdone, and as mentioned above, Jobscan continues to be the “gold standard” of deep-dive resume analysis and offers the greatest functionality in terms of helping users assess how closely their resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles stack up to modern hiring systems.  The site is a bit more complicated to use than Carmen, however, and also does require a $30/mo subscription after you’ve exhausted an initial small allotment of free scans.

Additionally, and I’d make this point for ANY of the sites in question, one needs to make sure they’re not lulled into spending all of their time tweaking their resume and trying to beat ATS (resume scanning) systems, since no matter what you do, online applications don’t tend to generate a high percentage of results.  There are too many rigid qualifications required these days and numerous other factors (nepotism, internal candidates, hiring freezes) happening behind the scenes that limit the success of most people in finding work this way.  So sure, engage in this type of lead generation activity in moderation, but don’t allow it to become an avoidance mechanism that steals time away from other critical search activities such as networking, target company identification, recruiter contacts, and the like.

All that aside, however, the main point I wanted to share is that Jobscan has just unveiled a new tool within its site (see link above in header) that purports to help professionals explore new career options.  In a nutshell, this new tool “pivots” their main keyword analysis functionality and utilizes it in a fresh and innovative way, identifying certain skills in a person’s resume that Jobscan thinks are transferable — and then displaying a list of other career paths and job roles that require some of these same skills.

In theory, I absolutely love this idea, and it represents very similar thinking to how I’ve worked with people over the years to uncover new career options.  The drawback?  At least in the current incarnation of the tool?  The set of alternative choices presented is still extremely similar to the career path one has currently been holding, at least based on my own series of tests.  For example, for somebody who has been a financial analyst, the site suggests alternative paths such as financial consultant, economist, and controller.  These aren’t likely to be radical revelations to anybody in the financial field, nor choices that would use a person’s skills in a truly unconventional way.  But despite that small quibble, I’m excited by what they’ve built here, and hope they keep expanding on it!

3) LinkedIn “Open for Business” Setting (www.linkedin.com/profinder/blog/open-for-business-new-feature)

Lastly, while this final “bronze medal” offering I’d highlight is not a brand new tool in and of itself — but simply a new feature added to a familiar site, LinkedIn – — it’s one of the more significant developments I’ve seen on the LinkedIn system for a while.  Essentially, as you can read in the article linked above, LinkedIn is at long last acknowledging that not everybody on the site is interested in finding a new job and that many folks, including freelancers and small business owners, are much more focused on utilizing the tool to locate new clients.

To this end, LinkedIn is rolling out a new setting that will allow people to indicate — right at the top of their profile under their name — that they are “open for business” and then showcase a specific list of services that they offer.  I think this is wonderful.  And hopefully this new option will allow the growing number of contractors, consultants, and freelancers out there to more directly attract potential clients, compared to the very limited and marginalized “Profinder” tool that LinkedIn currently offers in this regard — and which most people don’t even realize exists on the system, since it’s hiding under the oft-overlooked “Work” menu on the toolbar.

The only catch regarding this new feature, at least right now?  They haven’t rolled out this new option to everybody, just yet, and despite the instructions here I wasn’t able to find the “Open for Business” setting  available on my own profile.  So I’m not sure how long it will be before those of you who are interested in this tool are able to actually engage it, but if you DO see it show up one of these days — or have any positive experiences with it — please drop me a line and let me know!