Posted: February 16, 2013 Filed under: Career Management (General), Job Search, LinkedIn | Tags: confidential job search, job search tool, job seeker, job-searching, LinkedIn, LinkedIn profile, outstanding accomplishment, personal brand, potential employers
Because I have frequently advocated using LinkedIn as part of your job search planning, you might be surprised at the heading of this post. After all, a robust online presence is essential to being found by potential employers, and LinkedIn is recognized as a key element of building and maintaining that robust presence. Right? Certainly, but that is not the whole story. LinkedIn does–or should–help you build and communicate your brand to employers; however, it also can–and often should–reflect the corporate brand of the companies you have worked for. So what possibilities does that open up?
Personal vs Corporate Brand on LinkedIn
One of my esteemed colleagues, Deb Dib, recently wrote an item in the Reach Branding newsletter (published by branding guru William Arruda) that brought out strongly what the relationship can be between your personal brand and your employer’s brand. In the short article, titled “Ditch. Dare. Do! for YOU,” she firmly maintains that “when you build your brand you are building your company. Your brand reinforces and enhances corporate brand attributes; it helps you make a mark on your organization, augment your company’s image and reputation, and increase your visibility and presence with all stakeholders (inside and outside the walls of your organization). In fact, if you’re not building your brand, you’re not doing your job!”
What does this mean to you and how you represent yourself on LinkedIn? If you’re conducting a highly confidential job search, you might focus on maintaining a more or less neutral tone in communicating your value to prospective employers, to avoid sending an overt message that says, “Hey, I’m job searching here, Mr. Current Employer.”
At the same time, you do want to get that message across somehow and don’t want to be so subtle about it that your target market doesn’t catch the message. One way to help do that is to match your personal value with what you have enabled your current employer to achieve through your contributions, in terms of presenting the company’s value and successes strongly to its target markets.
Here’s a quick example–something you might put under the brief introduction to your current position in the Experience section of your LinkedIn profile: “Planned and executed launch of new energy-saving product that enabled ABC Company to break into a competitive market and quickly increase its market share from 0% to 25%.”
You’ve given a nod to your company’s market success while also giving yourself credit for an outstanding accomplishment. Of course, you could do more than that. You could include some wording in the Summary section of your profile that references the company you currently work for and puts it in a nicely positive light. That might be of interest to people who are searching for companies that do what your employer does and does well.
The only important point to remember in that case is that you will need to change that section when you change employers, so it reflects your new employer and not the former one.
LinkedIn As an Ongoing Job Search Tool
Having said the above, I want to emphasize that LinkedIn’s value as an ongoing job search tool remains strong today, despite the many changes that have been initiated in recent months. It’s important that nearly every job seeker (active at the moment or not) makes sure he or she is well represented on LinkedIn. Your perceived value to employers must form a key element of that representation.
If you don’t already have a compelling, well-organized LinkedIn profile, you really should be giving serious attention to it. Whether you take care of it yourself, have a friend or colleague do it, or hire someone else to do it for you, you owe it to yourself to make it happen.
Posted: November 10, 2012 Filed under: Career Management (General), High-Tech Tools, Job Search | Tags: action plan, blogging, Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters, job search tool, LinkedIn profile, online presence, online resume, publishing a blog
Chances are, you read (follow) one or more blogs on a fairly regular basis. However, do you publish your own blog in a field of professional interest–that is, on a topic related to an area in which you would like to work? Or are already working but want or need to make a change? If you are not publishing a blog, you might be missing out on a potentially powerful job search tool. Several reasons for doing that come to mind, and a few of them were underscored in a book I just finished reading: Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0. I will share snippets of the book’s points in the comments that follow.
Why Use Blogging as a Job Search Tool?
Offhand, I can think of at least 3 reasons to make blogging a part of your job search action plan:
- Establishing a strong online presence can play a key role in making you visible to companies who will be looking for people like you, and blogging is one relatively easy and cost-effective method for doing that.
- You can maintain a blog even after you land your next job and keep yourself top-of-mind with the kinds of people you want to stay in touch with, yet not send out a signal to your current (new) employer that says, “Hey, I’m job searching again.”
- If you link to your blog in a variety of places, you can easily increase your visibility and credibility with minimal additional effort. For example, link to and from your online resume, your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook page (if you have one for your professional side), and so on. Some of that can be done almost automatically (set up once and left to run each time you publish a blog post).
What Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters Says about Blogging
These are just a few of the gems contained in the book:
- “If you have a blog, post on it frequently with your name and title. Add descriptors like your current projects, technical expertise, and examples of anything you have done that shows up in the public record….Be specific with your expertise.”
- “If you don’t have a blog, offer to guest post at blogs that discuss your industry and your metro area.”
- If you have your own web site (something the book highly recommends), “a blog is a powerful addition to your web site….Having your own blog gives you credibility and a forum to demonstrate your expertise. If you’re not an expert, you can become your industry’s oracle by linking to other bloggers, articles, news sources, and web sites. You build your credibility by highlighting what others are doing.”
- “…your blog is a billboard on the Internet.” One way it can help you find a new job is by increasing your visibility with search engines, which according to the book “love blogs.”
When to Start Using Blogging as a Job Search Tool
If you haven’t already started, now would be a good time! It’s not that hard to do (as the saying goes, it’s not rocket science–unless you’re a rocket scientist), and the sooner you start, the sooner you can begin building a presence–gaining traction–in the area you want to be known for, work in, and so forth. It also doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, or even close to that. How many other job search aids can make that claim–potentially high value provided for relatively little effort and almost no money?
Posted: October 17, 2012 Filed under: Career Management (General), Job Search, LinkedIn | Tags: activity notification, career management tool, career strategy, confidential job search, job search, LinkedIn, LinkedIn profile, skills "endorsement"
I make no secret of the fact that I consider LinkedIn a valuable job search and career management tool. I recommend it strongly to my clients for that reason. However, as with most things, I know there are caveats regarding how and when LinkedIn is used–in other words, how you manage your participation as part of your overall plan. So here are just a few key points to consider when integrating LinkedIn into your career-related activities.
Caveat #1: Confidentiality is a Challenge
As I’ve mentioned before, if you’re conducting a confidential job search and decide it’s time to update or revamp your LinkedIn profile accordingly, you need to be aware that unless you turn off your activity notification feature first, everyone in your network will receive notice that you’ve just updated your profile. Assuming you’d rather not overtly bring that fact to the attention of your employer (including the colleagues you work directly with, as well as your boss), that notification is probably not a good thing. Remember, you can always turn the notification feature back on after you’ve posted your updated profile.
Caveat #2: LinkedIn Keeps Changing Things
I don’t know how often LinkedIn changes how various features work or makes other changes you might want to know about, but I do know it happens–and you won’t necessarily know unless you review your account and related information regularly. One of my colleagues recently posted on an e-list that when she was putting in a client’s new profile information–specifically, populating or repopulating/editing an employment section–there was a check box that had to be UN-clicked to prevent the client’s connections from being notified about the update, even though his activity notification feature had been turned off! She thought it might not be on everyone’s profile–maybe only on the latest/present employment section. However, it does raise a red flag for any LinkedIn user engaged in a confidential job search.
Caveat #3: New Skills “Endorsement” a Time-Suck?
In my professional groups, LinkedIn’s new skills “endorsement” feature is a controversial topic. Many people are viewing it as a time-suck feature with little or no long-term value, while others say the feature is in the early phase of its existence and it’s too soon to decide one way or the other. So far, I haven’t run across anyone who says it’s a great idea. Apparently, its primary purpose is to help recruiters search for people with skills they need, maybe with added value because others have “endorsed” the individual as possessing those skills. However, the endorsement can be done with a knee-jerk click of your mouse, and I’m not sure how much that says about the thought behind the endorsement or the value of it.
Your Needs Determine How to Use LinkedIn
You can’t just put LinkedIn on autopilot and let it run without paying attention. That doesn’t mean you have to go on 5 times a day to see what might have changed, what new action you need to take, etc. It simply means you must evaluate the specific needs of your job search and career management and then make your LinkedIn participation a thoughtful part of that picture.
Posted: July 9, 2012 Filed under: Career Management (General), Job Search, LinkedIn | Tags: LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn profile current, online presence, potential job opportunities, profile headline
You hear repeatedly that you need to be on LinkedIn and that employers look there to source and check out potential employees. Maybe by now you think you have heard this enough times and really should not have to hear it one more time. Sorry! I need to beat that drum again, along with many of my colleagues and writer Maureen Sharib, who wrote an article for ere.net called “LinkedIn Lemons to Lemonade” about outdated LinkedIn information. You see, it just isn’t enough to put your data into your shiny new LinkedIn profile and leave it there indefinitely.
Why Keeping Your LinkedIn Profile Current Matters
The thrust of Sharib’s article actually had to do with a client who gave her a list of people she might want to add to her database and the fact that she found many of those people weren’t at the companies listed anymore or had been promoted, with a new job title. However, she used the initial names as subtle leverage to find out the names and titles of relevant individuals who were currently employed at those companies; those individuals were potentially of interest and use to her as a recruiter. While that’s an interesting fact from her perspective, it might not mean much to you unless you’re a recruiter.
However–and it’s a big however–it should mean something to you that the people who were on that original list might have missed out on potential job opportunities because they weren’t keeping their LinkedIn profiles up to date. If, for example, you currently work at a company that someone is interested in recruiting people from, you might not turn up in the search because you neglected to add your present job to your profile. The recruiter would have no way of knowing that you work at the company of interest.
Reason #2 for Keeping Your LinkedIn Profile Current
When you apply for a new position and that company checks you out on LinkedIn, which happens a lot, the fact that your profile shows you as still at the company where you previously worked suggests you don’t invest enough effort in staying on top of things. Your online presence represents a key piece of how you market yourself to the world, both actively and passively. It can and should stay current. What’s more, it doesn’t really require a huge amount of time and energy. Add it to your auto-reminder list or however you keep track of the tasks you need to complete periodically. Then take a few minutes to visit your LinkedIn profile and make sure it’s current and as fresh as possible. If you take on a new responsibility at your company, work on a high-profile special project, etc.–that’s worthwhile news to add to your LinkedIn profile, unless all or part of the information is company-confidential/proprietary.
Bonus point: If you use your profile headline to showcase your current title, you’re not maximizing a valuable piece of real estate. Saying “Vice President of Operations, ABC Corporation” advertises ABC Corp. as much as it indicates your level and area of specialization. That information will be in your Experience section, and if desired, you can even include a reference to it somewhere in your Summary. Consider using the headline to say something unique about yourself instead. Maybe something like “Successful Startup-to-IPO Strategist,” for example. (I threw that one in off the top of my head. You might be able to come up with something better if you think about it.)
Posted: April 9, 2012 Filed under: Job Search, Career Management (General), Trends--New and Changing | Tags: job search, job boards, LinkedIn profile, 24X7 job search, potential emloyers, online portfolio, target companies, career path, online presence, technology
Technology is sometimes your friend, sometimes not so much. However, one advantage it does give you is the potential for a 24X7 job search, even when you’re not actively looking for a new job. Whether you’re a busy executive or a stay-at-home mom thinking about reentering the work force, you can use various aspects of technology to make yourself visible online and help get (and keep) yourself in front of potential employers. It works even while you’re traveling extensively to meetings around the globe or sleeping after a challenging day with an active family.
What Technology Does Best for Your Job Search
Technology doesn’t always rank #1 in terms of effective job searching. Personal contact (even if only by phone) is sometimes critical to a successful job search. However, technology can extend your reach and the scope of your job search activities. For years, that meant just loading your resume onto job boards such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com. Since then, of course, the technology landscape has changed substantially. You can still post your resume on job boards–both the big ones and niche boards geared toward your industry or professional focus. But you can do a lot more.
Just as an example: If you’re interested in the possibility of relocating from one side of the United States to the other, the 3-hour time difference doesn’t have to impede communication with potential employers. You can select from email, an online portfolio, a LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other resources to get the word out about what you have to offer. You can also explore possible target companies at a time of your choosing, investigate areas you might want to live and work in, and so on.
Passive versus Active 24X7 Job Search
Clearly, if you’re actively pursuing a new position–either because you’ve been laid off (or think you’re going to be) or because the job you have is no longer the “right” one for you, it makes sense to conduct a 24X7 job search. On the other hand, you might be happily employed as COO of an up-and-coming company, well compensated and not particularly interested in making another move yet. Does that mean you don’t need to maintain some elements of a 24X7 job search? Not necessarily. A little factor called unpredictability could throw a monkey wrench into your carefully planned career path.
Here are just a few examples of situations that might catapult you into an active job search you hadn’t planned on: (1) Your company’s biggest and most lucrative client either jumps ship to a competitor or goes belly-up (e.g., Chapter 11). (2) A major weather or geographical disaster strikes your company’s key vendors and severely reduces the supply of critical materials for an indefinite period. (3) You learn that an industry-leading corporation you never thought you’d have a shot at has a dream opening you feel you’d be crazy to ignore.
One critical key could be to maintain a strong online presence at all times, not just when you know you need to look for another job. Technology certainly makes that a lot more do-able than it used to be. Of course, as I’ve said before, you need to make sure your online presence works for you, not against you! Line up all your ducks in a row and then re-check them periodically to make sure they’re still well-aligned. For example, is your LinkedIn profile up to date? Do you “own” your profile on Zoominfo? Have you set up Google Alerts to let you know when certain items pop up (such as references to your name)? Are you keeping up with the industry-specific online publications you’ve subscribed to–including newsletters, blogs, webcasts, and more?
Posted: March 30, 2012 Filed under: Career Management (General), Job Search, LinkedIn, Trends--New and Changing | Tags: employer Facebook requests, job candidates, job market, job seeker, LinkedIn profile
By now, you’ve probably seen one or more articles about job candidates being asked by prospective employers to provide their Facebook passwords and/or to “friend” the interviewer. As with my previous post about automated reference checking systems, this is an example of the increasing encroachment by employers into areas we once thought were protected. In the case of Facebook, though, it seems not only questionable but potentially illegal behavior on the part of employers. Regardless, it’s definitely something to stay aware of and informed about…before you actually have to deal with it.
Employer Facebook Requests that aren’t Really Requests
As several recent articles have noted, some employers are basically demanding that job seekers provide their Facebook password so the company can check out the individual’s activity in that online space. An alternative request is that the candidate “friend” the interviewer, with the same end result in mind. Facebook has a policy against providing your password to others, for one thing, but that doesn’t seem to have deterred the companies so far or made them think twice about the legitimacy of what they’re doing. It should. The kind of behavior they’re indulging in represents a big step over the line into actions that are highly intrusive, if not actually illegal.
One article writer puts it this way when condemning employer Facebook requests: “I am not opposed to looking into a candidate’s background….It is all in how you approach the problem. If you are going to demand access to a candidate’s personal and private Facebook profile (or any other private information…), you had better make that clear in your job ad or prior to setting up an interview….You have no right to throw that curve ball after the fact….” As a job seeker, if you know ahead of time that a company takes that approach, you can decide whether you really want to bother interviewing for a position there. Maybe your time and energy will be better invested elsewhere.
Possible Boomerang Effect of Employer Facebook Requests
In situations where the job market has improved and/or will be improving going forward, employers might just discover that their sledgehammer approach to candidate evaluation boomerangs on them. Breaks my heart to consider that possibility…not! In a better job market, where many job seekers will encounter more opportunities than in the past, they should experience correspondingly greater latitude in deciding whether or not to pursue specific job opportunities. If you’re in that situation, you will have the option of doing what one individual did and declining to continue the interview once the request (demand) is stated. Even if you don’t have numerous job choices, you might still opt for the same response rather than seriously consider working for such an organization.
Companies who maintain that they’re asking for such information on altruistic grounds aren’t really fooling smart job seekers…or anyone else, for that matter. Supposedly, it enables them to connect with people regarding other jobs they might be interested in but aren’t aware of. Sears Holding, Inc. was the company mentioned in the latest article I read, offering this lame excuse. According to the writer, “That’s their line to warrant this invasion of privacy….If they wanted to see my background to consider me for a future job, they can peruse my LinkedIn profile, which is always public.”
What it boils down to is that you need to be vigilant and also prepared to handle such unreasonable requests if or when you encounter them. Don’t let them catch you napping!