We’d find an ad in the paper (or through a recruiter or your network); type up a cover letter to go with your one-size-fits-all resume; put them in an envelope sent via regular mail; and interview for the job. We didn’t usually have much competition, and the process was clear.
The job search is not so simple today!
Meeting the new needs of today’s job market means we must become more visible to the world, enabling recruiters to find us and also to find good information about us that supports our job searching. And it also means passing the “first impression test” as recruiters do extensive research on the Internet. Typically, they are looking for three things:
- Visibility | Are you up-to-date in your understanding of the importance and the use of social media today?
- Verification of facts | Does the information on the job application or submitted resume match the information on your LinkedIn Profile?
- Personality/fit | Does your personality, as demonstrated in your online visibility, seem like a good fit for their organization?
While public visibility is not comfortable for many of us, a lack of appropriate visibility in the right places makes a job search incredibly more challenging.
Too many job seekers confuse invisibility with privacy. You should absolutely protect your privacy (like your birthday!). No question! However, establishing appropriate visibility for yourself is essential today. Put technology to use for you, and remain relevant in today’s job market!
1. Be Visible Where Employers Are Looking
For most professions, a solid LinkedIn Profile is essential today. The LinkedIn Profile provides professional visibility in the website that is the most popular with employers. Done right, your LinkedIn Profile won’t put your privacy at risk, but it will enable potential employers will find you.
Recent surveys of recruiter activity have found that they consistently — more than 90% of the time — use LinkedIn for both recruiting and fact-checking. Your submission will be compared with your LinkedIn Profile, which is assumed to be accurate.
If you don’t have a Profile, the assumption made is that you don’t understand how important LinkedIn is or how to use social media for business. You look out-of-date (and, thus, less desirable for many jobs). Or, the recruiter may assume you aren’t serious about your career.
For most jobs, having a profile on LinkedIn is not optional.
2. Leverage Search Technology To Be Found
Find and use the right keywords in your LinkedIn Profile, job applications, and resume submissions so you will be found by employers looking for people with your skills and qualifications.
Having a LinkedIn Profile, even an “all-star” profile, won’t help if that profile doesn’t include the keywords used by employers to find qualified candidates like you. Look through the your target job requirements to find the terms consistently used — skills, tools, experience, location — and include them, as appropriate, in your LinkedIn Profile.
When you submit an application/resume through a website in response to a job posting, be sure your submission contains the terminology (the exact keywords) used in that posting. For example, assume that the job posting specifies that the job requires someone who holds a “current Professional Project Manager certification.” If you hold that current certification, include the phrase “current Professional Project Manager certification” in your submission.
3. Provide “Social Proof” of Your Skills, Knowledge, and Maturity
LinkedIn Groups are excellent venues for sharing your knowledge and demonstrating your written communications skills. You can join up to 50 groups, so find groups for your profession, industry, location, school and/or corporate alumni, and other groups that interest you.
Observe the group to see if it is active and useful or not. See how people participate (asking questions or posting discussions).
Ask good questions and post good information, written by you or someone else, in the appropriate group discussions. Comment carefully on questions or discussions posted by other members. Learn and share and show potential employers “social proof” of your knowledge, skills, and maturity.
For your professional visibility (vs. personal entertainment), don’t be goofy or nasty. If you must “rant” about politics, sports, or religion, don’t do it on LinkedIn, and use a name (and email address) different from the one you use for LinkedIn and your other online professional visibility.
4. Be Reachable When Found By a Recruiter
Again, our concerns about protecting our privacy can get in the way of being reachable when an employer or recruiter has a potential opportunity.
As a long-time “privacy Nazi” I am a strong proponent of protecting your personal information — specifically your home address and home phone numbers (as well as your birthday, SSN, etc.).
However, if a recruiter or potential employer is interested in contacting you, don’t make it difficult for them. Include an email address where you can be reached and, possibly, your cellphone number or the number of a private voicemail service. LinkedIn offers a good method of making that information available.
For details, read To Be Hired, Be Reachable.
5. Practice “Defensive Googling”
Knowing what employers find when they search for you on the Internet is very important, today. Test to see what you find. Do you share the same name as a porn star, but you’re not looking for that kind of work?
Then, be sure to have a LinkedIn Profile which shows you are not the porn star, and consider changing the name used for your job search (LinkedIn Profile, resumes, business cards, etc.) to a slightly different version of your name. Add (or remove) your middle initial to make it clear you are not the person that your target employers would avoid hiring.
Through defensive Googling, you can know what is there, and address any problems that occur.
To be effective in today’s job search, you must be visible. We must be able to find you. And we have to like what we see the first time; there are rarely second chances. Follow this advice… and stand out in your job search!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org, is a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a columnist on HuffingtonPost, AOL Jobs, and LinkedIn. Follow Susan on Twitter.