You’re reading this blog, so you are obviously somewhat savvy about online resources and tools. It’s a good thing, because this isn’t your mother or father’s job hunt. Companies are making hiring decisions based on extremely nuanced factors. Job seekers need to understand applicant-tracking systems (ATSs), compete with hundreds of others for the same job and often guess at the best approaches for submitting a resume, interviewing and following up after the interview
Are you using social media tools well enough to help your cause? Maybe not. I’ve met a lot of people who know how to use Twitter, have a profile on LinkedIn, use Facebook every day and even blog, but don’t understand how those resources can actually help them land a job or gig.
I recently wrote about a friend’s sister who was auditioning for a position by trying to convince people to vote for her video on Facebook. Most job seekers don’t need actual votes for a chance at an opportunity. However, to succeed today, you do need to establish a community of people willing to “vote” for you by facilitating an introduction, setting up an informational meeting, hand-delivering your resume to a hiring manager or actually hiring you!
How do you build a community of those contacts? Not by sending frequent “I’m looking for” messages via Twitter and not by setting and forgetting a headline in LinkedIn saying, “Seeking new opportunity” or “Open to new challenges.”
In my book, Social Networking for Career Success, I teach readers how to demonstrate their expertise online. Generously sharing advice and information while growing your network is much more useful than bombarding your social streams with “I want/I need” messages. When done well, social networking will empower you to expand your reputation; you can create a cohort of people who know and respect you from all around the globe. The power of that exponential network – and having many people interested in your professional expertise and insight – is invaluable when you are ready to transition to a new job or gig.
How can you begin to cultivate those “votes” you need for a successful online effort? Some things to think about:
Don’t expect social networking to be a magic career wand. You need to bring the expertise, and be willing to listen first and learn the rules of engagement. You wouldn’t approach a stranger on the street to ask for help getting a job; don’t expect strangers online to flock to help you before you join their community.
Do present a consistent, professional profile in your social networking bios. Pick keywords you want people to use to find you. For example, I incorporate “job search/social media coach” and “resume writer” in all of my profiles. Use job descriptions, company and industry websites and blogs and information from professional conference materials to identify your field’s keywords. Include them in your online bios.
Use Alltop.com to find other people blogging in your field. Regularly read and leave useful and meaningful comments on their blogs. If you write a blog, generously link to and refer to your colleagues in your articles. Share their posts via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Be sure to include their Twitter names and/or tag them on Facebook when you do.
Use WeFollow.com or Listorious.com to find people on Twitter sharing your professional interests. Search via keywords and follow these colleagues, potential mentors and superstars in your field. Review their Twitter streams, retweet their posts, respond to their questions and ask for clarification when appropriate. You may be surprised how a few casual tweets can result in a strong online relationship. (Sometimes, those casual tweets will be about sports, television shows or restaurants; don’t be afraid to show your personality online!) Once you establish a connection, it’s okay to ask for an introduction or advice to help you move ahead with your search. Don’t jump into asking for something the minute the person follows you back, though. It’s better to focus on what you can give.
Use your online platforms to pass along useful professional advice and information. For example, post links and insightful comments on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Remind your friends, fans and followers about your professional goals and skills by consistently including updates illustrating your knowledge, skills and abilities in your field.
These are some first steps to help establish relationships and an online presence to propel your career goals forward. My book is full of other tips, tricks, insights, success stories and advice from over 100 of my colleagues to teach you how social networking can make a difference in your career or business. Take a look at what people are saying about Social Networking for Career Success and consider ordering a copy from Amazon. They should begin shipping soon!
Miriam Salpeter is owner of Keppie Careers. She teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to leverage social media, writes resumes and helps clients succeed with their goals. Miriam writes for U.S. News & World Report’s “On Careers” column, CNN named her a “top 10 job tweeter you should be following” and Monster.com included her in “The Monster 11 for 2011: Career Experts Who Can Help Your Search.” She blogs at KeppieCareers.com and GetASocialResume.
Link URLs if you need them:
Social Networking for Career Success: http://www.socialnetworkingforcareersuccess.com/
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Keppie Careers: www.keppiecareers.com