Feb 20

Is Twitter The New Résumé?

Recently, the Wall Street Journal wrote that Twitter is increasingly preferred by recruiters rather than a standard résumé.  While the idea is interesting, it’s unlikely that Twitter will singlehandedly eliminate the traditional résumé.

Obviously, reading a candidate’s tweets will give a recruiter some idea of the knowledge level, experience and personality of the candidate.  However, in most cases, Twitter alone doesn’t provide enough information for a recruiter to make a job offer.

Unless the job is specifically in Social Media, it’s virtually impossible to adequately “vet” a candidate based on 140-character quotes. A recruiter has a responsibility to the company which requires their due diligence in selecting a qualified applicant. Education, experience, references and demeanor will generally be evaluated by traditional means.  So, you still need to be prepared with your traditional record of qualifications, education and experience.

Some companies may advertise for a position on Twitter.  Again, for certain jobs, this may be appropriate. For many positions, a company can capitalize on the exposure a tweet can bring.  This is good for them.  However, this exposure could result in a flood of applicants that will all be in competition with you. Where you need to focus is on making yourself stand out from that crowd.

Where Twitter can benefit you most is in making connections with hiring managers and other industry professionals.  These connections can lead to interviews, and/or demonstrate your unique “voice” to a recruiter making hiring decisions. Use Twitter for conversations, not to merely broadcast tweets about your skills without interaction.  Get to know people, and allow them to know you.

Most importantly, remember that social media is your voice in the world, and what you project is what others see.  If you want to be considered a professional in your field, make sure your Twitter timeline reflects this.  Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a recruiter to see, avoid spamming people with tweets about your qualifications, and use Twitter to network wherever possible.

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!

Managing Your Online Reputation: Addressing Digital Dirt

Your online reputation may be the most important business tool you have.  It’s your personal brand.

It takes hard work and patience to develop a positive online reputation, but, unfortunately, it takes only one or two negative items to ruin it.  If you own a business, a single bad review can cost you customers.  If you have ongoing personal disputes with someone, (ex-spouse?) they might start an online smear campaign to destroy your good name. Sometimes, your reputation can turn negative merely due to incorrect information.  What makes this tricky is that information on the internet can be difficult to remove, though it’s not impossible.

It’s a good idea to regularly check your online reputation. Make sure that the information in all of your online profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn) is accurate and complete.  Google/Bing your name/business and see what shows up. If you have a business, check with sites that provide user reviews, like Yelp.com, the BBB or Angie’s List.

I have a client who was involved in an internet “spat” with an online acquaintance. Their relationship soured.  Some months later, my client Googled herself and was shocked at what she found.  Someone (who, no doubt, was this internet “enemy”) had posted on a forum my client had never heard of using her identity.  This person pretended to be my client and made up a story about how she was deeply in debt, couldn’t pay her bills and would “probably be filing bankruptcy again.” (My client had never filed bankruptcy and this person knew nothing of her finances).  Fortunately, when my client contacted the site administrator, he removed the libelous posting immediately.  However, had he not been so cooperative, my client might have had to resort to legal action.

What do you do when you find derogatory information/reviews? There are a few steps you can take to minimize the damage:

If the information is true, but unflattering, don’t run from it.  Take ownership and inform a potential employer or client about it before they stumble on it themselves. This gives you a chance to explain what you are doing to resolve the problem.  It’s better to be proactive about it than have them uncover it and think you were hiding something.

If you posted or tweeted something you regret, delete it. If you are unable to delete it yourself, contact the site administrator and request that it be removed.  Some will cooperate.  Others may not be so helpful.  If it becomes necessary, seek legal advice.

If you find a bad review or negative comment about your business, don’t ignore it or try to hide it. Respond politely, quickly and publicly. Apologize, don’t make excuses. If appropriate, work to make things right with your customer and make sure you include those details in your online response so that future customers will see how you handled it. We’ve seen that even the largest companies can find themselves on the receiving end of negative social media, and the way the company handles it can make a huge difference in public opinion.  A genuine “mea culpa” and swift resolution can actually earn you customer loyalty if they feel your response was handled well.

If there is anything that cannot be removed, the next step is to minimize its visibility. You can do this by creating enough content that it pushes the bad stuff to page 2 or 3 of the search results.  Most people don’t get beyond the first page of search results. Optimize your search results with positive content.  Blog. Tweet. Complete your profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn and participate there frequently. Comment on other blogs or forums, making sure you are using your professional name.  Publish trade articles online. Eventually, you’ll have a clean first page of search results.

There are many services that claim they can improve your online reputation.  They will, for a fee, perform these same steps for you.  But why not do it yourself and save some money? It may take a little time, and effort, but you can build an online reputation that you are proud to share.

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.