Is Your Facebook Profile Job Search Ready?

Posted on February 3, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Job Search Tips, social media | Tags: , |

social media job searchA lot of people think that even though they have made their FB profiles “private” and have shared nothing more than their undying commitment to their favorite TV show or pictures of their children, that there is really nothing more to be done to their profiles when they launch a job search. As this infographic from Purdue University’s Center for Career Opportunities shows, there are a few other things to think about.

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Technical Job Search: You Say “Engagement”; I Say “Value-Add”

Posted on January 17, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips, social media | Tags: |

job searchOK, so maybe I am going to play a semantics game today, but…I promise it does have a point, especially if you are trying to figure out how to make the buzzword of the hour “engagement” work in your technical job search.

Not too long ago I published a post called “Tweet Your Way to the Top or Something Like That.” In that post, I outlined some of the key factors involved in making a social media site like Twitter turn into more than just conversation, even very good conversation.

Essentially, you can have all the “engagement” you want in today’s job search, whether it is online or face-to-face in industry networking groups, but when you understand “value-add,” then you will find success in any form of networking.

OK, so you might be thinking, “what’s the difference?”

Here’s where things most often get lost.

“Engagement” is an interesting word that is basically being used loosely in marketing/networking circles. Engagement is either simply the arrangement of a meeting in a particular time and place or the act of being emotionally committed to something, such as a marriage betrothal (you can also use it to talk about “being in gear” or in reference to a military event). I’m pretty sure when we are networking, we want more than just to show up at the same time and place and we aren’t looking for anything quite so dramatic as a marriage proposal!

No, when most people use the word “engagement” in a social media sense, what they are really talking about is being “engaging,” which means to draw favorable attention or interest. In other words, you become so interesting to the other person that he or she is drawn to speaking with you. You are so engaging that they are fully engaged in the conversation.

Generally speaking, we all like to be around people who are “engaging.”

But, contrary to popular belief, being engaging alone is not really what makes a person good at networking. Sure, it helps “draw” people in. Extroverts generally get a leg up in that regard, but…and this is a big BUT, being “engaging” is not the same thing as persuading someone to take action on your part.

And let’s face it, when you are networking, ultimately that is what you are hoping happens: action. You are looking for someone(s) to take action.

So here’s where introverts generally have the advantage. Introverts are less comfortable with the “wooing” side of networking; they want their interactions to be right to the point and to count. So when networking, they look for ways to refer and recommend resources to their connections. In other words, they add value because they know that is what they are looking for in return, connections who offer them a value-added experience. If you notice, there is action involved.

(Now, if you can find a way to be both engaging and value-adding, well, now you’re likely more than just an effective networker but also a top sales performer because you’ve understood a basic sales principle: You’ve given people a “reason” to speak with you and an “excuse” to buy into what you have to say.)

So when you are dreading your next networking event or toiling over how to make social media work in your technical job search, think more about how you can provide value to your connections. Think recommendation and referral. Be that resource on such and such subject that people go to because they find you credible. My guess is that by shifting the focus onto value, you will become more “engaging” in a natural sense.

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Getting Stuck in the LinkedIn Wasteland

Posted on December 12, 2013. Filed under: Career Management, Job Search Tips, LinkedIn, Personal Branding, social media | Tags: , |

social mediaYou would be hard-pressed to hear many negatives about LinkedIn these days, especially when it comes to the job search and personal branding. It is very popular to talk about how LinkedIn is the place to be for career networking and the job search.

And certainly recruiters love it.

Let’s face it. It has made their jobs a lot easier. Talk about access to a major database of active and passive job seekers…all at their fingertips for very little investment on their part.

“The resume is dead!” They will gleefully proclaim while they ooze their love for LinkedIn profiles (despite the increasing skepticism over how truthful or accurate most LI profiles actually are AND the fact that the LI profile is essentially a resume in disguise, and not even a good disguise).

Never mind that the hottest trend to hit the hiring industry since the inception of LinkedIn itself, mobile recruiting, is a flutter with the possibilities of using LinkedIn on your smartphone or tablet.

Why, it’s a hiring wonderland!

So Why, Then, Am I Calling It a Wasteland?

Despite LinkedIn’s enormous growth, it is pretty lacking in participation. In fact, those who are participating the most are, well, recruiters and career pros like me and active, very active, job seekers.

Most pros see LinkedIn as a place to throw up a profile, without much effort or thought behind it; add a few connections (the purists will add ONLY people they have worked with); and pretty much forget about the whole thing. Sure, they might join a few groups that sound interesting, but really, who has a lot of time for that?

That is, of course, until they decide to start a job search. Suddenly, they realize that’s where the recruiters are, and LinkedIn takes on a whole new meaning.

LinkedIn is just a reflection of how professional networking in general has always been.

An afterthought.

Important when the need arises.

Often a wasteland of inactivity.

Let’s face it. When times are good at work, the last thing you want to think of is networking and career management.

After all, you like where you are and you don’t want to leave. A job search is so dreaded, so why even think of one? And with internal promotions set to be on the rise, who cares about recruiters anyway?

The problem with this mindset, however, is that it ignores a lot of things (and it misses the whole point of LinkedIn in the first place). Here are just a few:

  • It’s so much nicer to turn recruiters down when they come to you than to have to chase them down later. After all, they much prefer to steal currently employed professionals than unemployed ones. So optimizing your profile to attract opportunities should be a continuous thing. It is NOT a matter of timing. You can always say, “no.” But just having a profile isn’t good enough. You need to understand how they conduct their keyword searches. Otherwise, they might pester you for jobs you have no interest in.
  • LinkedIn has become a professional stalking tool. Your colleagues are checking you out on there. So even when times are good at work, your profile still matters, and it is going to play a role moving forward in internal promotions and in the encouragement of more social media involvement by companies. Companies that were once hesitant about social media are now starting to see some benefit in having their employees represent their brand.
  • LinkedIn is really just a numbers game. For those high-minded individuals out there who like to tell you that LI is a more “quality” social media environment, they are skipping over the part that LI rewards those with larger networks and more endorsements with more exposure. It’s that simple. And if you are really good, and build your network up with your target “market,” you will most likely have one effective network.
  • Study upon study has been done on the value of a connection. This is a phenomenon I have experienced for myself on several occasions. The mere fact that I shared a similar connection with someone else was enough for that person to feel comfortable hiring me. People want to search their network and the networks of their “friends” to see who they can recommend.

There is no doubt that you can waste a lot of time on social media.

But turning LinkedIn into a wasteland is not the answer either. Instead, finding a way to spend an hour a week on a tool that makes professional networking a lot easier is certainly worth it.

I know…the whole thing seems a little shallow.

Of course it is! All networking has a bit of that in it, no matter how high minded we get about it. But it is a lot less so when it is something you do consistently when you aren’t expecting anything from it than when you only do it doing a job search…

Listen. You don’t have to love LinkedIn. You don’t even have to like it much. But ignoring it, especially if you have another 10+ years left to go in your career, is not wise, either.

See it for what it is, and use it to your advantage.

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  • Meet Stephen Van Vreede

    Career Coaching Specialist with MBA, CPRW, and ACRW credentials

    Co-founder of ITtechExec & NoddlePlace, offering one-of-a kind resume and job search solutions.

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