LinkedIn Mistakes Job Seekers Make

LinkedIn Mistakes

As an active or passive job seeker, the job market can be a bit tricky. Even more so, job seeking can seem intimidating when a seeker is constantly reminded of all the things they need to do in order to stand out to a recruiter. One of the popular tools job seekers and recruiters now utilize is LinkedIn. Although this has been used for several years now, seekers who are new to the platform or haven’t used it often enough may not know the ins and outs of this social media platform, including the expected etiquette. As a recruiter, I’ve seen the painful misuse of this site which may or may not have cost candidates a job opportunity.

Yes, LinkedIn is a social media platform. Yes, it’s used to build networks and communicate. However, LinkedIn is NOT a lot of things. For example:

  • LinkedIn is not Match.com: this is by far the worst offense myself and other recruiters have experienced. LinkedIn is a site for professionals to network and shouldn’t be utilized as a primary source to find an intimate relationship or hook up. More importantly, these intentions (either sweet or inappropriately worded) should not be the first form of communication to a new connection. If you are a job seeker at a job fair, would you approach a recruiter at their booth/table and say the same things? No.
  • LinkedIn is not Facebook: LinkedIn is a fantastic way to share news, industry-related content or even promote your own content to build a personal brand. Plenty of professionals have used this well and I’ve found it to be a great source of information. However, there are a few people out there who use the “update status” section as a way to post useless information. Honestly, there are plenty of people who misuse the same feature on Facebook, but at least that site is a bit more casual in comparison to LinkedIn. If you’re a job seeker trying to get your name out there, do you think irrelevant or inappropriate posts are going to help you show prospective employers your worth?
  • LinkedIn is not Instagram: Of course, some professions are much more creative than others and LinkedIn can definitely be used to promote these portfolios. However, if you are in this type of profession or even if you’re not, there should be a limit to what you post. Much like the inappropriate dating emails or irrelevant status updates, images shared on LinkedIn should be reflective of how you’d want to present yourself to a recruiter or hiring manager. Nix the awkward selfies as your profile pictures. Try to avoid “oversharing” by posting pictures unrelated to what should be shared to your network.
  • LinkedIn is not Twitter: Twitter is a great way microblog, self-promote, network and just post a quick update. It’s not uncommon for people to post several times a day and with Twitter chats being a great way to virtually network, it’s not uncommon for people to post several times an hour. However, this elevated amount of posting should be kept exclusively to Twitter. LinkedIn’s newsfeed is already bombarded with an obscene amount of content. Limit your LinkedIn postings to a reasonable amount on a daily basis or weekly basis. You don’t want to annoy people with your over-posting to the point where they end up hiding your updates. This could seriously work against you if you ever do post any updates you want seen.

Of course, no one is perfect and there’s no perfect way to be a LinkedIn member. Even I’ve been an offender of some of these situations. Some people might like what you share, while others won’t. Some posts might work for certain professions while others don’t. The important thing is to do your homework, understand how this platform works and really research your “audience”. And always err on the side of caution. If you think your postings can work against you in your job hunt, then reconsider before you post.

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Taking Social Media Recruitment to the Next Level

instagram and vine

For years we’ve been hearing about utilizing social media for recruitment. Over time, this developed beyond sites like LinkedIn and has now spilled over to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Open Source. But are you still missing out on available talent?

With more candidates finding ways to creatively share their personal brands, it might be wise to start tapping into other social media sites like Instagram and Vine. Not sure where to start? Check out a blog I wrote on SourceCon last month.

“Let’s Get Visual: Attracting and Sourcing Candidates Using Instagram and Vine.” Click here to read the original blog post on SourceCon.

Showing Your Candidates That They Matter

Recently, I was having a discussion about the importance of the candidate experience with a friend. She’s a job seeker and was expressing her stress and frustration when it came to customize every single cover letter, resume, and letter of interest. It’s time consuming and exhausting. In the end, she sometimes only receives a generic e-mail back stating that her resume was received or that the company was going to “pursue other candidates that more closely fit their needs.” And just like that, it was all the interaction she got. Cold, human-less, and impersonal. We make candidates jump through all these hoops, but why aren’t recruiters held to the same standards? Recently, I came across an article on CoderWall and it really got me thinking about the messages we send to candidates.

The article on CoderWall discussed the issues with recruiting tech talent. I’m currently recruiting for tech talent and I know that it’s definitely not easy. This talent is in demand and more often than not, they get to pick and choose their opportunities. But regardless of this industry, the statements made in the article can ring true for any industry. With options like LinkedIn messages, e-mail templates, and automated messages, recruiters are able to increase the amount of people they contact in less time. But just because we have these tools doesn’t mean we should get lazy or abuse them, right?

Stacy Donovan Zapar also wrote a recent blog about spammy messages to candidates, which just continues to show that candidates are sick of our lack of personalization. How can we expect candidates to respect us or even be interested in talking to us when it seems like we didn’t invested a couple minutes to read about their personal experiences? We make them customize their messages to show us how they would fit in our job opening but shouldn’t we be doing the same?

Have I been guilty of shooting out generic messages to candidates in the past? Unfortunately, yes. And I realized that it’s no way to build a relationship. I’m not saying that templates are a bad thing. It could make it easier to include the job details you don’t want to have to rewrite over and over again. But it’s important to leave a section of your message open for editing based on each individual. Read their profiles, research their blogs/portfolios, check out their skill sections, and so on.  When you message them, include the things you researched. Maybe even ask them how they apply that to their current job or side project. There are plenty of ways to uniquely humanize your messages for each individual candidate.

I know that I’m instantly impressed by candidates who take the time to customize their letters of interest or cover letters for a job opening I have. I appreciate what they did and it makes me want to talk to them because they seem like they care. I’m sure that candidates feel the same about our messages to them. So let’s raise the bar and show these candidates why they matter to us.

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The Need for Digital Vacations

I’ll admit it- I have a problem. I’ve become so accustomed to checking my email, social media, and text messages that I’ve been on autopilot. I’ve been recently catching myself mindlessly unlocking my phone every couple of minutes to check if I missed something. Did my phone beep to indicate a new alert had come through? No. It’s just become the norm in my life. More often than not, I have my head down, focusing on some form of computer screen or smart phone. My brain is constantly working, multitasking virtual discussions and networking. Suddenly, it’s July and I don’t even know what I’ve done in my physical life that was significant. And then I was struck by a term I heard on #Tchat last week – the “digital vacation.”

I was curious. Needless to say, between managing multiple social media profiles, staying consistent with my personal brand, blogging, researching, networking, and creating and implementing social media training for my company and clients- I’m starting to feel a little burnt out. I love this industry and all the things I’ve been able to come in contact with because of social media and digital options but if I see (or even write) one more buzzword, my brain might spontaneously combust. As I got involved in social media, I realized that this is a lifestyle. You need to be present and consistent, otherwise you’ll potentially never make an impact. Over a year of doing this non-stop, and I’m a bit spent.

Then I learned about the digital vacation. As I learned more about the details of this, I started to see more people in my social circles participating in it. How can someone just take a break from this? How can you unplug without putting yourself completely behind? Apparently, it’s not as hard as I initially thought. Here were some suggestions from the wonderful contributors in #Tchat:

  • Set expectations: Inform your networks that you will be taking a digital vacation and that you will be unavailable. This can prevent them from contacting you with something pressing that you can’t ignore.
  • Utilize your tools: there are so many great tools out there that allows you to schedule posts to go out on specific days at certain times. I utilize Hootsuite pretty often when it comes to this. Even if you aren’t physically present on your social media, scheduling posts to go out while you’re on vacation can allow you to maintain your consistency.
  • Create boundaries: find ways to ensure your phone and computer aren’t tempting. Turn off alerts that come to your phone for that week or set a boundary for how much time (or what set hours) you can use your devices.
  • Have a responsible person on your team: the world doesn’t stop turning just because you’re unavailable, and thanks to technology, this is even truer. If your social media and digital presence is especially important (i.e. you are a business, consultant, etc.), have at least one person monitoring that and contacting you ASAP if anything dire happens that requires your attention. Knowing you have this safeguard can make you feel more confident about taking this break.
  • Relax: Need I say more?

I didn’t realize how much my digital life had taken over my regular life until I caught myself clutching onto my phone like a lifeline, terrified that I’d miss something major. I realized that it’s ok to take that break, especially if I don’t want to make my love for this industry turn into something that feels like a suffocating obligation. I appreciate all the tips about taking a digital vacation and I’m going to be trying this very soon.

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Making the Most Out of a Networking Event

Last year, my fiancé decided to go back to school to pursue his passion and obtain a degree in Software Development Engineering. Although he is learning a great deal from classes and independent learning, unfortunately he doesn’t know many people in this field and sometimes lacks the network he needs to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with. Last month, I discovered that there was a CODEshow occurring in our local area of Charleston, SC. After days of convincing him that it was important for him to attend, he finally agreed that it would be in his best interest to learn from the individuals in this industry. To make the most of this learning and networking event, I utilized my inner HR skills and prepped him the best way I knew how.

The things I taught him this past week can be relevant in almost all networking events. Here were some useful tips I shared with him:

  • Make sure your professional social media is up to date: a couple nights before the event, I took the time to update his Linkedin and Twitter profiles. I ensured that: his pictures matched across social media channels; that his pictures were professionalish; his work title/experience was up to date; that his skills were accurate; and that there were links to connect his social media channels together so individuals knew they had the right person.
  • Do a little research: The night before, he and I researched things involving the Codeshow. We read articles, researched what people were saying on social media, and so on. He was able to locate a few people who stated they were attending and sent them a quick message about connecting at the show.
  • Live-streaming at the event: sometimes it’s a little hard to multi-task. I get it- trust me- but you’d be surprised by how much easier it makes it for you to have warm networking leads. A trend I’ve noticed was live tweeting from events in which participants would quote presenters, take pictures, and provide feedback. This would be a live stream and would include a hashtag specific to the event/conference. Live streaming allows you to see who is at the event and creates an easy opening for virtual conversation that can lead to in-person conversation during breaks.
  • Connecting after the event: make sure you get business cards or contact information from the individuals who presented or who you spoke to. Be sure to reach out to them through professional sites like Linkedin and include a personal note in the invite to remind them of how you two know each other. This is a great way to stay connected and build relationships post-event.

My fiancé was beaming when he came home that night, completely buzzing from all the amazing things he learned from the presenters. He had some great conversations with people in the industry that not only sparked his passion more, but confirmed that his decision to change career paths was the right one. He seemed to have a natural talent for understanding the art of software engineering. What’s more, he was able to build relationships with other engineers in the local area so he could totally geek out with people that understand and love the languages. He had great success with the steps that I taught him and appreciated the fact that I helped him make the most out of this situation. And yes, I did gloat about it for a bit.

Make the most of your networking events/conferences and try the steps above. Even introverts can find this to be an easy way to break the ice and build relationships.

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Humanize Your Brand

It’s important to humanize your brand, whether you are branding yourself, consumer-based things, your corporation, or your employer brand. In the past, we would market our brands via content that was pushed out to the audience. More often than not, this marketing strategy limited communication to a one-way scenario: from brand to audience. As technology and social media have become more predominate in the world, marketing and branding have taken on a life of their own, and it seems as if though some of the best brands out there are the ones that open up two-way opportunities.

Some companies and individuals have failed to realize that social media shouldn’t just be a way to push out information and content. Yes, it’s a great way to promote those things but it shouldn’t continually post enough to be considered “spam-worthy.” Your brand also needs to have some personal touches to it. It needs to have a personality. It needs to be social. It needs to listen. And most importantly: your brand needs to reflect the way you “live” and vice versa.

I think some of the best companies and people that humanize their brands well are the ones that actually take notice of what their audience is saying. They listen and they try to deliver what they’re audience is asking for. Additionally, they actually communicate back to these individuals. They respond to messages, posts, and tweets. They even go out of the way to be the first ones to engage in conversation with some individuals in the audience. This can take the brand from just being a “thing” to something that people become engaged with and feel connected to.

Humanizing your brand can help audiences identify with the brand. They could feel like they’re a part of how the brand is developing, which can make them invest more and show loyalty. Additionally, it can be an organic way of building brand influencers and ambassadors. Use your key audience or fan members to help build your brand. Show your appreciation and support and they’ll be sure to do the same.

Branding is no longer about pushing things at people and expecting them to care. It’s about being personable and connecting with others. It’s about showing good “customer service” and appreciation. It’s about breathing life into it and making the brand seem approachable. It’s about finding a way to build some form of a relationship. What are you doing to humanize your brand?

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to join in the discussion on Twitter: #Tchat – Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

More Links:

#Tchat Preview: Real Brands Humanize

#Tchat Recap: Face-To-Face with Brand Humanization

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Recruiters: Are You Going Beyond the Call of Duty?

Last week, a group of recruiters and I were talking about some of the things we do to help our candidates make it through the interview process. We discussed tips, resume restructuring, and coaching. Some of us had success stories about how their tips helped a candidate land an offer. But I asked them: what about the candidates that didn’t make it through the interview process? What about the candidates that weren’t a fit from the start? Are we doing anything to help those candidates?

Maybe I’m overly empathetic, but I really identify with the job seekers and their daily struggles to find work. I’ve been the underemployed before. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve also been the employee that felt like my abilities were not being recognized or utilized for the benefit of the company. And even though I’ve been involved in Human Resources and talent acquisition, that advantage didn’t always help me when it came to securing my next job. Even with the knowledge of knowing what recruiters and hiring managers looked for, I still struggled. If I struggled, I can only imagine what it is like for people who don’t understand the recruitment processes or tricks of the trade.

As a recruiter or talent acquisition specialist, have you ever spoken to a candidate that you knew wasn’t going to be a fit for your job opening? Or have you talked to a candidate that had potential but needed some extra guidance? In those instances, what did you do? Did you simply send a rejection letter or pass them through the hiring process knowing that they might be rejected due to the areas that needed coaching? Or did you act like a consultant? Did you go above the call of duty and make it your job to help the candidate be employable and attractive to other employers even though you couldn’t offer a job?

I know that not all recruiters have time to do this. We’re overwhelmed and most of the time we don’t even have a second to breathe. But I often try to help out candidates as much as I can. I’ll give them tips on their resume, let them know what recruiters look for, coach them on their interviewing skills, tell them how to be easily found by recruiters, and so on. Most importantly, I let them know that they are always welcome to call me or email me if they need help or have questions. That extra time and effort feels rewarding especially when you hear the appreciation in the job seeker’s voice. I love it when I get emails and calls down the line from these individuals asking me for advice or when they let me know that they landed a job because of the tips I provided.

I remember wishing that someone saw the potential in me when I was a job seeker. I hoped that employers could see my passion and hear the conviction in my voice when I told them that I wanted to do great things for their company. Eventually, a company saw that and took a chance on me. Now, I want to be the person that returns that favor, even if I can’t initially provide a job to these candidates who honestly want a future for themselves. Maybe my assistance will help them get the interview they needed so they can sit in front of that specific manager who will see their intentions and give them a chance.

It shouldn’t just be about YOUR job opening that you need to fill. It should be about helping people get back to work. People have unnecessarily suffered the situations caused by the changes in the workforce. What are we doing to help them adjust?

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How Genuine are you When Providing Endorsements/Recommendations?

In the other week’s #Tchat, we tackled the topic of endorsements and recommendations via social media. With all these new social media platforms emerging, people can easily locate and research companies and individuals for jobs, partnerships, or just generally to discuss specific things. Although technology has made it extremely easy to interact with people you wouldn’t normally run into every day, it also can have its disadvantages. For example, people can easily be whoever they desire to be online or may exaggerate some of their credentials and skills. So how can we ensure that what we see is what we get? Simple: by reviewing the public and accessible endorsements and recommendations found on their social profile.

Endorsements and recommendations can be a great way for people to verify that the person is who they claim they are and that their experience, credentials, and skills are legitimate. It’s almost like doing a pre-reference check and another source for referrals. This is all good and dandy, but most of us have noticed that sites like Linkedin are making it extremely easy for people to endorse one another. It can be a one-click free-for-all if someone’s feeling overly generous that day. For example, I have received endorsements from people who I’ve never conversed with in my life- so how can they know that I have the abilities to successfully perform the skills they endorsed me for? Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the endorsements and recommendations I received, but I’m more concerned about quality over quantity.

The more that people endorse others in this way, the quicker it will reduce the accuracy and meaning of these endorsements and recommendations. And then after that occurs, we’re basically back to square one. So how can we try to limit this? By being genuine in our own recommendations. Set the bar again. If you are going to endorse someone, it would be beneficial to endorse them for things you truly know the individual has done and is capable of doing. Let it hold some weight.

But let’s even do one better- let’s also utilize the recommendation function. If you have time and honestly feel strongly about a person’s skills/work, do them (and all those reviewing their profile) a favor and write something for them. Leave a few sentences or paragraphs about your experience with them, what you learned about them, and make it thoughtfully written. Help paint a picture of their capabilities.

Remember, endorsing and recommending someone doesn’t only reflect on their reputation, but yours, as well. Make others believe in your words and trust in your opinions/suggestions by providing honest feedback. We all work so hard to be recognized for what we do, don’t let our reputations get muddied up by false endorsements.

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to join in #Tchat on Twitter- Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

More Links:

#Tchat Recap

 

 

Are You Embracing Diversity?

In last week’s #Tchat, we had a discussion about the importance of diversity. However, there was a bit of a twist to this chat: it wasn’t just about demographic or cultural diversity. Whenever I thought of this subject, I always considered race, sex, and so on. Needless to say, I was pretty intrigued when other members of the chat had discussed what other aspects can be considered diverse.

  • Creative diversity: don’t for a second think that creativity is only restricted to marketing, art, graphic arts, and the like. Each employee can possess a certain level of creativity in their job role that can help your business in ways that you never could have imagined. Be open to their creative suggestions- even let them experiment. Sometimes allowing new ideas to be put into play can give you results you’ve never witnessed before.
  • Educational diversity: not everyone comes from the same educational background. Perhaps some of your workforce has a degree, perhaps some do not. Maybe they went to an Ivy League college, or maybe they went to a specialized/technical/vocational school. Maybe they are the type to independently learn. Options are endless for education and this can create an educational diversity that can benefit your business.
  • Natural Talent diversity: Resumes are nice and all, but sometimes people’s natural talents aren’t presented on there. Do you unknowingly have someone who can be considered a “human connector”? Maybe someone has a knack for researching the most impossible information. Regardless of their secret skills, it’s best for you to take the time to figure out what each natural skill your employees have and see if it has a place to be utilized within the workplace.
  • Skill diversity: With the economy making employment a little bit shaky, it’s not uncommon to find employees who have worked in several jobs or within several industries, rather than committing 30 years to a single organization. These “job hoppers” actually have built some knowledge and skills that can be extremely useful to your organization.
  • Demographic diversity: Maybe an employee lived the next town over. Maybe they lived in another country. Regardless of the demographic distance, it’s important to realize that these demographics allow employees to have certain experiences, educations, skills, and knowledge that might differ. This uniqueness can help open up a company’s “eyes” to things they may never have discovered on their own.

With businesses becoming globalized and companies seeking unique talent to give them a competitive edge, it’s important for employers to realize that diversity is extremely important in helping them grow. Look beyond race and sex and realize that diversity can come in many forms. Have you recognized any of these things in your current workforce? If so, what are you doing to help nurture it?

If you’re interested in topics like this, be sure to join #Tchat on Twitter on Wednesday at 7pm EST.

More Links:

#Tchat Preview

#Tchat Recap

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Build your Network Before You Need It

During typical Twitter banter this week, a message from Susan Avello really stuck with me: build your network before you need it. It was simple but an effective statement that inspired today’s blog. Whether you are a job seeker, employed, generating leads, or building partnerships- it’s important to proactively build your network. Life and business change fast, you need to always be one step ahead.

Why should you spend time and effort building your network? Simple:

  • It puts you on the map: it allows people to get to know you and consider you for job openings or as an option to do business with you. Warm leads made easy.
  • It’s a quick resource: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to pick up the phone and get some insight quickly because of the fact that I networked with people beforehand. And this resource was even more useful than simply researching online, because I was able to get answers to specific questions I had.
  • You’ll be prepared for instability in your career: lay-offs, downsizing, termination, or glass ceilings are all situations that we’ll potentially run into in our lives. Networking can help you keep a pulse on what companies are hiring, who to contact about specific jobs, and allow recruiters to locate you for their pipeline.
  • Build relationships and credibility: building relationships with people can allow them to see that your experience and skills are credible. Impressing them in this way and staying in the front of their mind can allow them to recommend and refer you with confidence rather than someone else.

There are so many great uses to networking. Yes, it takes time and effort and at times it can be a little overwhelming. But the truth of the matter is, the benefits will help you and help save time in the long run. It’s best to build this up ASAP rather than scrambling later when you need it.

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