What Your Online Presence Can Do for Your Job Hunt

When I thought about the ideal job hunt, I always had believed that to be the most professional and proactive hunter, it was best to update your resume often and simply upload them to career websites. In addition to this, I was led to believe that the best way to get my resume in front of a recruiter was to apply to jobs online through job boards and applicant tracking systems. After all, these systems were put in place to help our resume be re-routed to the appropriate person, right? That used to work just fine until everyone else started to resort to this option. Now I realize that job seekers need to do something more to really set themselves apart. Over the course of the last few months, it became apparent that creating a personal brand via online can really help you during your job hunt.

I always assumed that doing anything online or on social media was typically considered something personal. I also heard the stories about how companies Google candidates to find these sites to do a quick “background” check before considering them for an interview. When I was in college, many teachers and guidance counselors told us to keep our online presence private or to delete anything that can potentially cause us to lose a job. With all these warnings, I never felt that having an online presence would help me land the job that I wanted. But after months of searching and being unsuccessful, I decided to give it a try.

To play it safe, I decided to keep my personal social media accounts private but then decided to create separate accounts strictly for business and maintaining a professional appearance. Of course, I decided to focus on LinkedIn first because that site is all about networking business professionals. It didn’t really pick up steam, though, until I invested more time into it. Putting up a profile with your experience isn’t enough to catch the attention of recruiters. You really need to participate. Here are some things I did on LinkedIn that helped me get more job interviews:

  • Update profile content and headline. Use keywords relevant to what you’re searching for so recruiters can find you easier.
  • Join groups. Joining groups are great but you must make sure you take time to participate in order to really allow yourself to get exposure. Comment on members’ discussion posts in a way that can show you are knowledgeable about a subject. Even post your own discussion questions on there to welcome interaction.
  • Keep the conversation flowing. In order to network effectively and build relationships, you must invest in time to keep the conversation going. If you comment on something or post a discussion question, make sure you respond to those who are also commenting. This flow of communication can help people get to know you better and open up an opportunity to connect.
  • Post interesting articles. Spark up some further conversation by posting online articles, publications, blogs, etc. This could grasp people’s attention and also display the fact that you keep up with industry trends.
  • Get personal. If you plan on sending a message or an invite, be sure to add something personal in the message. If you’re adding a recruiter, you could even mention that you’ve applied to a specific position at their company and wanted to talk more about it. This could help them pull your resume from the pile of hundreds they get regularly.

After I got LinkedIn up and running, I decided to take it a step further and see what Twitter had to offer. I used to use Twitter sporadically since 2009 and never really thought it could be useful for anything more than personal use. I was SO wrong. After using Twitter in a professional capacity, I ended up receiving more job offers, interviews, and assistance to find a job than I ever did when I used to just apply to online job boards. I couldn’t believe it. Here are some ways I effectively used Twitter during my job hunt:

  • Add people that are relevant to the industry you’re trying to get a job in.
  • Add recruiters that work at the companies you are interested in working at.
  • Write thoughtful responses to their tweets to help open up communication.
  • Tweet links to relevant online articles, publications, blogs, etc.
  • And most IMPORTANTLY, join Twitter chats(this was the easiest way I was able to get interviews.) Twitter chats are amazing. It opens up real-time communication and could help you get exposure to the right people. Some TweetChats I’ve joined that were really great for my job hunt were:
    • #JobHuntChat – Mondays @ 10PM EST
    • #TalentNet – Tuesdays @ 7PM EST
    • #TChat – Wednesday  @ 7PM EST
    • #GenYChat- Wednesday @ 9PM EST
    • #HFChat – Friday @ 12PM EST

These chats are either geared towards connecting job seekers with recruiters or the chats are HR related which means you can easily connect with HR and recruiters. Of course, these are just a few chats of the many that are out there. I would suggest researching chats that are relevant to the industry or job type you are looking for.

After a while, I really started to enjoy the results I was getting from this and decided to take it even another step further. I created a blog that was relevant to the industry I was targeting (Human Resources) and started to write on a regular basis to help extend my online presence even more. I promoted it via LinkedIn and Twitter. This blog has helped recruiters to see my competency, knowledge, and even get to know a little more about me. They were able to see how I could fit in with their company. If you are able to do something virtually that is relevant to the industry you want to work in, give it a try. It could really help you stand out even more and add something extra to your candidate profile.

Having an online presence can really help you if you do it right. Keep it professional but also keep it YOU. Your online presence can help hiring managers, recruiters, and companies really get an idea of who you are and what you could potentially do for them. I was happy to see that investing time in this has paid off. After committing time to this, I was able to get job interviews, internship offers, and guest blog post offers. I felt that I made more progress doing it this way than the months I spent just dedicating time to job boards and online applications. Give it a try, it could make a huge difference.

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How Will Your Career Benefit from Business Networking?

“It’s all about who you know,” I’d often hear people say to me while I was going to college. More seasoned professionals had constantly told me that in order to leverage my position into the working world, it was best if I knew someone. I figured that knowing someone wasn’t as important as getting the education and experience to prove that I was competent enough to do a job. However, I soon found out that the advice of getting to know people was important for my career. Getting knowledge and experience was great but if you didn’t know someone to display that to, then your career hunt could be a bust. Therefore, I’d like to focus today’s post on the benefits of business networking, both internally and externally.

Sometimes people underestimate the importance of networking (I was one of them at one point). As I network more and more, I really do see that there are some fantastic benefits to it. Networking can help your career in the following ways:

Externally:

  • Keep you abreast about industry trends: Networking can help you learn about industry trends, concepts, technology, news, and resources that you may have never easily learned about on your own. Additionally, talking to individuals that know more about this topic can allow you to get a deeper understanding and obtain knowledge that could give you a competitive edge for your job hunt.
  • Keep you in the loop about what companies are hiring: There are a lot of great companies out there that you may not know about. Networking can help you get exposure to companies that fit what you’re looking for but you haven’t discovered yet on your own. Additionally, finding companies that aren’t as well known could help you have less competition for the jobs you are applying to.
  • Allow you to know ASAP about job openings in the companies you are targeting: Companies don’t always post their jobs externally. Networking with people can allow you to know about job openings before others do, which could increase your chances of being selected.
  • Open up communication with other recruiters/hiring managers: Sometimes the people you network with won’t always have an opportunity for you. However, if you build these relationships they’ll be more willing to refer you to other individuals that do have openings and could put in a good word about you. Referrals are highly regarded.

 Internally:

  • Raise your professional profile within a company and/or industry: Networking internally could help you build your reputation in a positive light. You could go from the average employee to the go-to guru. Building clout this way could help you obtain a promotion at your current employer or become a desired employee that companies seek.
  • Get opportunities to work on special projects: Getting to know people can allow them to learn your interests and your abilities. Therefore, they could easily consider you for any upcoming projects in your workplace that are relevant to these. Having the opportunity to work on these special projects could help you gain useful experience and knowledge that will build your resume up nicely.
  • Showcase experience to correct hiring managers when attempting to get a promotion or raise: Your professional profile and contributions to special projects could easily catch the eye of the hiring managers in your workplace. These things can support your resume and could allow managers to confidently consider you for promotions or raises.

There are so many benefits networking can provide. I’ve started networking a lot more and wished that I had done it sooner. I’ve met so many interesting people that have taught me so much about the field I’m interested in and even more. These individuals have been so helpful and were willing to spread the word about my blog. They have also sent my resume out to their connections to help my job hunt. It’s been a joy networking with these people and I hope that I can pay forward the kindness they have shown me. I strongly suggest that you take time to build these relationships because they could be great for your career in the long run.

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What Recruiters Would Like Candidates to Know

Yesterday I wrote a blog post from the job seekers’ point of view. This post discussed the many pain points that seekers deal with during their job hunt. They hoped that bringing these points to light might allow recruiters to understand and find ways to make the candidate experience better. Also in that post, I promised that I would allow recruiters to have their side of the story told. Being that I’ve done internal recruiting as well as recruiting for staffing agencies, I’m well aware that recruiters also have their pain points during the job-filling process. Today’s post will highlight some of the highly noted issues in hopes of allowing candidates to understand that side of the process.

Being surrounded by recruiters day in and day out made it easy for me to learn some of the main issues they wished that candidates knew. Some of these points are as follows:

From the moment they start the day to the moment they leave, recruiters are swamped. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a recruiter have a “light” day. Phones are constantly ringing off the hook, e-mails are flooding in, daily status meetings interrupt the day, and screening candidates is time consuming. For most recruiters, this is their day-to-day. Basically, they do the job that could truly require the help of three people. With all those disruptions occurring, it can take a bit longer for them to pull your resume and review it.

• They are not purposely ignoring you, nor have they forgotten about you. As you can see above, recruiters are trying to do as much as they possibly can. You are on their “contact back” list as soon as they get a moment to do so. With that being said, it is not necessary to call and e-mail them multiple times a day. This just adds more to their already overwhelming work-load. It is perfectly fine to touch base with a recruiter but, please, keep your communications reasonable. Filling a job opening doesn’t happen over-night.

They’re not purposely withholding information. Sometimes getting information from a hiring manager or a client can be like pulling teeth. Additionally, sometimes the hiring manager or clients have no idea what they’re looking for which can hold-up the process further. Recruiters try to give you as much information as they could possibly obtain, but sometimes that might not be a whole lot. I’m sure they also wish that they had that information to help them place candidates better!

• They would love to provide useful feedback. But unfortunately, sometimes they can’t. Trust me; your recruiter is empathetic of your situation. They would love to give you the reasons why you weren’t hired (if they knew the reasons). They also would love to give you advice on how to make your chances better next time. However, most of the time recruiters cannot give this feedback because of potential legal reasons. They do not want to put themselves or their company in the way of a lawsuit because their innocent feedback was misunderstood.

• Job openings don’t always get filled right away. Sometimes, jobs can be open for several months and the hiring process can become a grueling one if the hiring manager keeps changing the criteria or just generally doesn’t know what he/she wants. In addition to that, sometimes job openings might not actually be open yet. Hiring managers create these postings to find a pool of qualified candidates so when it finally does become available, the candidates are set and ready to go. This means that your resume could sit in the “Under Review” status for several weeks or even months.

Job seekers, just like you wish recruiters could understand your side of the story; they want you to understand theirs. Recruiting isn’t easy and challenges arise on a regular basis which can cause stalls or setbacks. I know that it’s hard to be patient if you’re jobless and are fighting hard for stable work. You must believe me that majority of them are trying as hard as they can. Sometimes, though, the end result is out of their hands. The best that you can do is to give them as much detail as possible so they can determine the ideal job to place you in. Also, practice your patience as much as you can. And remember: they’re fighting for you!

A New Twist on Resumes

Job seekers, are you tired of getting no response to your resume submittal? Recruiters, are you sick of looking at the same resume styles over and over again? Having been in both situations, I can honestly say I am. It’s been quite a dull experience creating my resume or having to review resumes of others. After a while, all resumes seem to blend together and it becomes hard for candidates stand out and differentiate themselves from others. Over the years, it has been beaten into our brains that a professional resume needs to follow a certain format. However, does this still hold true today?

Throughout my research, I have noticed that employers are starting to appreciate people who take a creative approach to their resumes. Candidates are finding ways to customize their resumes to show their industry and job function competency. For example, my friend who is pursuing production in the motion picture industry recently showed me his resume. It was a fun, artistic page that looked like a movie ad. It included his information, education, and links to the projects he had done. In my recruiting days, I had never seen a resume like that. It was actually quite enjoyable.

As I investigated this topic further, I came across the following cases: marketing candidates who created their resume as a brochure; broadcasting candidates who made videos or recordings of “radio hosting” as their resume; and creative writing majors who made their resume into a short story. I found these methods to be imaginative, entertaining, and a good way to display their capabilities. I would have much rather reviewed these resumes than the mundane “chronological” format.

A new extension of people’s “resumes” will be the social media aspect. Recruiters can now review candidates’ “web presence” via social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Candidates: here is another way you can make yourself shine. Make sure your profiles clearly display your experience and education for the job/industry you’re targeting. Post things that are relevant and display your up-to-date knowledge of an industry’s news. However, please note: if you make your profile pages public to employers, make sure you don’t have anything incriminating on there (i.e. embarrassing party photos, unprofessional e-mail addresses, or taboo “interests and activities”). I’m all about individualism but there has to a certain line you shouldn’t cross, especially while actively finding work.

Job Seekers, I’m in the same boat so I know how tiring it can be to keep fighting for opportunity and not find it. I urge you to take a chance and let your personality show. Find a new way to demonstrate who you are and what you can do. For example, I’m interested and experienced in human resources, technology, and writing. Those are the three industries I’m targeting but it was becoming apparent to me that I had to do something more than submit a resume via job postings…so, I did. In fact, you’re reading the version of my resume. This blog was meant to inspire, open minds, and have people consider different perspectives. I also created this to help motivate people stuck in a rut and hopefully give them ideas on a new tactic. However, this is also my personal resume. This blog will display the following to employers:

• My competency in: writing and blogging; human resources; and social media use.
• I’m up-to-date with human resources and technology trends and news.
• I understand information relevant to the industry well enough to create my own ideas from it.

I think what’s most important about creating your own resume is the fact that you can show employers more of who you are. The original formatted resume shows employers that we can do specific job functions but it doesn’t prove that we truly understand it on a deeper level. It doesn’t illustrate our passion. Sure, my resume might say I have successfully performed data entry but does that mean I want to spend 40 hours a week entering data? Additionally, we’ve created our original resumes to have specific keywords and terms that employers were looking for. If we all conform to what we think employers want to see on our resumes, it’s no wonder why our resumes blend in.

Some employers will appreciate your method and some may not. But that’s the point- finding an employer that appreciates you and vice versa. It’s time to test the waters and take that extra step to stand out against the competition. Most importantly, make sure you have fun while you’re doing it!

Links to read (I apologize, hyperlink function does not work!):
No More Resumes, Say Some Firms- WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203750404577173031991814896.html

Companies mentioned:
http://www.linkedin.com
http://www.facebook.com
http://www.twitter.com