May 23

Are You Still Searching for Jobs The “Old” Way?

If you’re still combing through newspapers for jobs, you’re doing it wrong. The hunt for jobs has changed dramatically in the last decade. If you don’t change your methods, you run the risk of seeming “out-of-date,” which is code for “too old for this job.”

It’s no longer enough to simply submit a resume, sit back and wait for the phone to ring. It’s important to demonstrate your comfort level with technology, your familiarity with social media, and your positive online presence.

One of the first places you should start should be LinkedIn. It’s essential for a professional to have a LinkedIn profile these days. You should fill it out completely, and network with as many contacts as possible. Get endorsements from colleagues who can vouch for your experience and abilities. Link your profile to your Twitter account, personal website, blog, etc. Expand your online presence so that a potential employer can search online and get to know you as more than a list of skills and experience.

Next, network. Let your network know you’re looking for a job. Studies show that employers hire candidates with an employee referral at a rate of 5 to 1. One advantage for older workers is that they have had a chance to make many more professional connections over the years. Use those connections. Follow professionals in your field on Twitter, and interact with them. A good way for an employer to learn that you are who you say you are is for them to review your Twitter account or other social media. The more relevant your tweets are to your area of expertise, the more credibility you will have.

Use online web searches strategically. Target your searches to specific jobs in your desired area with keywords to narrow down your choices. If you merely specify a location or a general field of work, you may receive tens of thousands of results. Don’t waste your time; let the computer search narrow it for you.

Be aware that many job postings may look like they are advertised for a specific company, when, in reality, they are advertised by a recruitment firm. Often, the recruitment firm doesn’t even have anything to do with the company, and/or there isn’t any real job available; they are merely trying to gain your business. When applying, a quick phone call after searching the internet for the company information can verify that the person receiving your resume is actually tasked with hiring for that position.

You should have both paper copies and digital copies of your resume available. If an employer asks for your resume to be delivered digitally, provide it that way. Very often, applicants are encouraged to submit their resume online through either a standardized web form or via email. Large employers may use scanning software to quickly look for keywords in your resume that match their needs.

Use the web to research the employer. If you’re granted an interview, do your homework and understand as much as possible about the employer before the interview.

The internet is a valuable tool for today’s job search, and it is imperative that you make yourself familiar with newer ways of searching and hiring in order to land the job you want.

Using LinkedIn to Your Advantage

LinkedIn has emerged to become the social network for professionals and job seekers.  If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, you could be hurting your chances at landing your dream job.  But, you may ask, what is LinkedIn about, and how best do I use it?

It’s no secret that a good number of people are hired as a result of a recommendation from someone they know rather than through a blind application process.  The more solid your network, the greater the likelihood that you will make the connection you need to land your next job.  But, networking can be hard work, and the days of exchanging business cards are almost over.  These days, networking happens far more frequently through the internet.

Your primary objective with a LinkedIn profile is to sell your personal brand. This is done by expanding your network of influence and highlighting your skills, experience and value to potential employers and/or clients.  It’s essentially a living resume.  Actually, LinkedIn is sort of like a combination of a resume and informal drinks after work with your peers.  There is definitely a social element to social networking that is just as important as making contacts in the first place.

Once you have signed up with LinkedIn, be sure to flesh out your complete profile. Highlight contributions you have made to employers, skills and education you have achieved, professional associations with whom you are affiliated, etc.

Next, make as many LinkedIn contacts as you can. Take advantage of LinkedIn tools for finding other members you may know by their email addresses or names.  Search LinkedIn for other professionals in your field or trade association. The more contacts you make, the greater your reach.

Personal recommendations are key. Don’t be afraid to ask a contact for an endorsement. You’ll have the best results if you take the initiative to endorse others first.  Be a valuable contributor for your contacts.

Finally, share on LinkedIn regularly.  Use the status update feature to provide valuable and/or interesting information and to respond to others. Engage your contacts in conversations. Share job leads. Promote the services of your contacts to others who might be looking for those services.  Basically, be a contact that people are pleased to know, and they will reciprocate.

Good luck, and see you on LinkedIn!

The Importance Of Having A Solid Digital Footprint

What is a digital footprint?
Your digital footprint consists of everything recorded in your online life. It’s your online reputation, your personal brand. This includes profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, personal blogs and websites, technical/professional articles you have published, tweets you have sent, and so on.

Why is it important?
A recent study by Microsoft found that 70% of employers check a candidate’s digital footprint during the recruitment process. Not only does your digital footprint give a potential employer an idea of who you are, it shows them how other people see you. It demonstrates your communication skills. On the other hand, a lack of a digital footprint could lead an employer to view you as “out of touch” or lacking digital savvy.

Does your profile or blog have a wide reach among professional contacts and/or does it demonstrate your professional expertise?  Or does it show pictures of you enjoying yourself a little too much at that St. Patrick’s Day party?  Your goal is to be able to show an employer that you have a fully developed online presence that supports what you claim on your resume, and to eliminate anything that portrays you in a negative light.

What can I do?
First, attempt to view yourself the way an HR Manager would.  Google and Bing your own name, for a start.  Are there many people with your same name, which can cause confusion? Is there less-than-complimentary information displayed? Do you use proper spelling and grammar, or is your profile peppered with slang or profanity? These are all issues that are solvable.

Second, if you don’t find much information about yourself, get to work putting yourself out there.  Make sure you have a full profile filled out on websites such as LinkedIn, and take the time to make connections there.  Tweet in a professional way. Participate in online discussions.  Connect with people who can vouch for your qualifications, and ask them to do so. Publish articles on a personal blog or professional association website. And so on.

Third, clean up errors or negative information. Make your Facebook profile private. (Though, some employers are starting to demand access to those.) Get rid of unflattering photos or connections to people/organizations that would reflect poorly on you. Make sure you don’t convey derogatory comments about former employers or co-workers, and don’t share confidential information about them either.  In a nutshell, don’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want an employer to see.

Lastly, consider using an email address that is a variation of your name, or at least one that sounds professional. An email address of “vampirekiss@bloodsuckers.com” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

A solid digital footprint can make the difference between landing that interview and being tossed in the “thanks, but no” pile. Make sure that your digital footprint portrays you in the best possible light and demonstrates your skills, education and professionalism. It takes a bit of effort, but will be very much worth your while.

LinkedIn: Are You “In?”

LinkedIn is often compared to Facebook as merely a business-oriented social-media website. In fact, LinkedIn is a sophisticated networking tool. LinkedIn can help you build a reputation online whether you run a small business, are self-employed or are seeking a job or career. LinkedIn has over 120 million members and attracts candidates from all of the Fortune 500 companies. LinkedIn has more professionals registered than any other social network. For many employers, LinkedIn is the first stop when reviewing prospective employees; they can study a potential recruit’s background, find out whether the candidate has good business connections and recommendations, and get an idea as to the level of expertise and respect they have developed during their career.

Members can “vouch” for each other’s skills and experience, providing a built-in reference check. One benefit to the employer is that the profiles are in a consistent format, making it easy to find the information they’re looking for without poring through a stack of badly-written resumes. The average LinkedIn member tends to be more mature than on other networks, and typically has more experience to offer. Many positions which employers are attempting to fill via LinkedIn are middle management roles or higher. The site is useful for job hunting and recruiting, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs and make business contacts. This is an excellent way to increase your connections and highlight your talents to others.

Business To Business Ads
LinkedIn Ads provide an excellent way for B2B marketing in order to generate new leads and reach the decision makers directly. With over 120 million users, 40 million of which are from the USA, LinkedIn has become a considerable platform for advertising.

Building Your Connections Network
LinkedIn is about making connections (contacts) and expanding your exposure to other businesses or potential employers. It takes time to build these relationships, but the effort is very often worth it as these connections may lead to a new career or advancement on the career ladder.

LinkedIn offers a free account version which provides basic functionality, and a paid version which offers extra features. LinkedIn currently offers a free trial of their paid version. Click here for an explanation of the differences between the free and paid (Premium) accounts.