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What if LinkedIn is the New Business Card?

LinkedIn touts itself as the world’s largest professional network with close to 530 million users in 200 countries. It is also referred to as a ‘resume-on-steroids’ because it’s available for viewing 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. As the platform continues to evolve, it is probably time to consider it as an online business card.

Over the past  year, I made a conscious decision to reduce my use of business cards, preferring instead to carry post cards. These are not the most convenient to carry around, but they have more space than a business card to add information about who I am and what I do. During a recent conference at which I spoke, I observed attendees interacting with speakers, and when they asked for a business card, they were told to “Connect with me on LinkedIn”. Suddenly it dawned on me that a LinkedIn profile could be considered a business card.

At the end of one session, I went over to Melody Adhami, CEO of Plastic Mobile, and mentioned that I thought I was the only speaker without business cards, although I had pot cards. She did not say she had abandoned the use of business cards, but said LinkedIn was more convenient for two reasons: 1) everything that anyone needed to know about her was on her profile, and 2) she uses LinkedIn as a recruiting tool. Anyone who engages with her on the platform will get her attention, and more often than not she will peruse their profile, and decide whether or not to connect.

Why am I suggesting that LinkedIn is the new business card? Unlike a real business card that is restricted by size and space, or a resume that is limited by number of pages, LinkedIn offers a good deal more. Users are allowed to include as much information as possible about their background, skills, and accomplishments. They can upload media (videos, images, presentations, etc.). It could probably be the most significant online business card that one will have to tell one’s story, build a professional network, and find opportunities. Assuming that’s the case, many users are doing themselves a disservice when they do not maximize its benefits.

 

Below are 10 easy tips to help you create an almost perfect LinkedIn business card:

  1. Use a professional head shot. Some people are shy and do not want to use a photograph in their profile, but if you are serious about your job search, or about connecting with people, a professional photograph is a must. LinkedIn’s Michael Shamshoian said, “…one’s LinkedIn Profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if a photo is included.”
  2. Headline. The entire LinkedIn profile is important, but the headline and summary sections are considered ‘prime real estate’ spaces, and should be maximized. Think of your headline as an online 30-second elevator pitch that quickly describes who you are and what you do in 120 characters. For those who believe that job titles and degrees must be included in the headline, there are no rules to that effect.
  3.  Create your own LinkedIn URL. Did you notice when you first created your account LinkedIn assigned you a default URL with numbers and letters that don’t seem to make sense? They don’t, neither do they add any value to your brand. Create a simple URL with your name. If your name is already taken, use one from the options LinkedIn offers. Make sure it’s a name that will be found when people search for you.
  4. Write a captivating summary that will entice readers to want to connect with you. Use every last one of the 2000 characters allowed in this space to tell your story and describe your most noteworthy accomplishments. The Summary section is where most people spend their time.
  5. Weave keywords throughout your Profile. Research the keywords that will show up when people search for you on LinkedIn, then weave them throughout your profile. Hint: Most keywords can be found in the job posting.
  6. Complete your Profile 100%. Recruiters have said that the more incomplete a profile is the more likely they are to ignore the profile. Don’t be bypassed by recruiters and hiring managers because you have a skeleton of a profile.
  7. Personalize your Invitations. People are less likely to accept your invitation when you use the generic “I would like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Help them answer the question, “Why should I connect with you?” Were they in the news? Are you a member of the same Alumni?
  8. Build the relationship first. Asking for favours, or trying to sell to someone you just connected with, kills the relationship before it starts. Some people have even used their LinkedIn Invitation as a way to sell – long before establishing the relationship. Don’t fall into that trap. Begin building the relationship slowly. Comment on, or Like their posts, or share articles and resources that could be of interest to them.
  9. Join LinkedIn Groups. Joining and contributing to industry or interest groups is one way of showcasing your expertise and building your brand. As people see the value you are adding to these online conversations, they will be more likely to connect with you.
  10. Request Recommendations. Recommendations add credibility to your profile, so ask people who know you, and who can attest to your skills and attributes, to write one for you. This takes time and thought, so make it easy for them to comply by drafting one yourself, highlighting what you would like to focus on. Pay it forward, and write a recommendation for them.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is not your personal web page. Save your profile as a PDF, and download your connections from time to time. You do not want to lose your contacts’ information, neither do you want to be left without a back up of your Profile.

Layoffs – Not all Doom and Gloom: 7 Tips to Cushion the Blow

Layoffs_Again

As I listened to the message, the woman’s tone was one of panic and confusion. “I have just been laid off after 20 years at the same job. I received a severance package, but I am in my mid fifties and will need to continue working. I never took any additional training all these years, and don’t have a clue how to conduct a job search. Can you help me?”

Several questions starting with “Why…, What… and How…?”, raced through my mind, but I banished them very quickly, because it wasn’t the time to be self-righteous. She was in a serious crisis, and needed a listening ear.

Conversely, I was recently contacted by two senior management professionals, one was a referral from a client, and the other found me online. In both cases, changes are taking place in their respective companies, and they have an inkling that layoffs are imminent. Although both believe there could be internal opportunities, they are not taking any chances. They are being proactive and are making plans for what may or may not happen. After all, it’s better to hope for the best, but for the worst.

Layoffs happen quite frequently, and no one ever gets used to it. Falling oil prices have led to massive layoffs in the Canadian energy industry. Rogers Communications recently eliminated several hundred middle management positions as part of its revitalization plan. And recently, Microsoft announced it would be laying off 7,800 of its employees from its phone division. This is enough for any employee or job seeker to be terrified.

The truth is, downsizing, rightsizing, restructuring, or whatever other name it is called, is a way of life in today’s economy. When it’s time to restructure, years of service and loyalty will not guarantee anyone a position in a revitalized organization.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom. If by some misfortune you are laid off, there are several strategies you can use to cushion the blow and minimize its impact:

  1. Give yourself permission to be angry. Don’t bottle up your feelings. Anger, as long as it’s not misplaced, could have a healing effect. However, do not vent at work or with coworkers or your boss. Such behaviour could be construed as negative and unprofessional; could damage relationships, and thwart your chances of getting a good reference. Find a safe place where you can let off the steam.
  2. Get support. Find a trustworthy person who will listen to you, and give you some good advice. Stay away from anyone who is inclined to help you bash the company or your boss as this is counter-productive.  There might also be free and fee-based resources within your community you could explore to see if they can help you find a new career path.
  3. Engage in self-care. This is an opportunity for you to put yourself first. This is not the time to beat upon yourself and question your ability or self-worth. Take that long-awaited vacation to clear your head and develop strategies to help you bounce back. Use this time to redirect your energy into something productive. Get some exercise, or just relax.
  4. Spotlight your assets. Turn this negative experience into something positive. Begin by spotlighting your assets. What are you good at? What have you accomplished? What awards, recognitions and comments have you received from your supervisor, coworkers and customers? Write out an inventory of your transferable skills that could benefit another employer. All of these are your assets – documented evidence that validate your capabilities – and will help you when you are ready to craft your résumé.
  5. Review your résumé and online profiles. A one-size-fits-all résumé will not work in today’s competitive job environment, neither will an incomplete LinkedIn Profile. The résumé needs to be strategic, and oozing with value. This takes time as you will need to assess all of your skills, attributes and achievements, and determine how to showcase them in a way that differentiates you from your competitors. Your online profiles are also essential pieces of your marketing.
  6. Remember this phrase: “This too shall pass”. What you are feeling now is real, but it won’t last forever. Sometimes a layoff is just the prescription you need to propel you to action. Ask yourself some soul-searching questions: “Is it time for me to retool, brush up on my skills or go back to school to gain additional skills? Do I have what it takes to start a business? What do I really enjoy doing, and should I be exploring this as a career option?”
  7. Maintain a positive attitude. The road to a successful job search, especially in such a competitive job market, is paved with disappointments and frustrations, but don’t give up. Tap into your network; join a support group like a job-finding club, engage in social media groups and networking activities that will put you in touch with people who can offer assistance. Be cautious when introduced to other people’s networks, as you don’t want to begin asking ‘strangers’ for help before they get to know you, and vice versa.

These seven tips are not all-inclusive, neither are they meant to trivialize the emotional impact, but they are steps in the right direction to help you deal with a layoff.

Related links:

Plan Ahead Before the Layoff Axe Falls (first published on Job-Hunt.org)

Got Laid Off? So What?

Microsoft Layoffs

 

7 Traits of Highly Successful Job Seekers [Infographic]

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Click image to enhance

This infographic highlights seven traits of highly successful job seekers. While not all-inclusive, these individuals:

  1. Are Proactive: Always prepared for the next opportunity.
  2. Exude confidence: Know their value, and articulate it with confidence.
  3. Invest in their careers: Recognize their areas for growth, and are committed to professional development.
  4. Have a circle of influence: A personal board of directors consisting of individuals whose career trajectory they want to emulate.
  5. Are active on social media: Recognize that social media is an equal opportunity platform and does not require a PhD to be a player.
  6. Demonstrate cross-cultural competency: Able to operate in different cultural settings and recognize that diverse talents solve problems faster.

  7. Know how to collaborate in virtual teams: Have well-developed skills to work productively and cooperatively. Team members are not always in the cubicle next door.

Recognize these traits in yourself? If not, it’s time for some introspection. What are your thoughts?

Going Beyond the Resume (P3): Launch a Social Media Campaign

Social Media Computer Key Showing Online CommunityThis is the final of our three-part series on Going Beyond the Resume. It is going to take you out of your comfort zone and on a limb that will scare the daylights out of you, but you cannot conduct a successful job search without it.

I know you are wondering why you should launch such a campaign. Well, the traditional way of conducting a job search is not working. For too long you have been engaged in ‘push marketing’ where you are sending resumes to every possible company and contact. But, your resume is being held up in the resume black hole and not getting to the decision maker. It’s time to engage in ‘pull marketing’ where you become a target for potential employers. Here are some reasons to embrace this concept. A personal social media job search campaign will:

(1)    differentiate you from your competition – all those vying for the same position you are after.

(2)    give you opportunities to engage with your target employers, connect with colleagues working in your industry, and expand your network.

(3)    allow you to leverage your brand using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other platforms where recruiters will discover you and learn about you.

If you have a LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account, you already have the tools to begin. Participate in discussions on these forums where your target employers are. It is pointless to join social media groups without becoming an active participant. That’s like attending a meeting but not contributing to the discussion. Ask and answer questions, Give or request opinions on your areas of interest, create your own discussion topics or write articles that will generate conversations.

Don’t hesitate to comment on a company’s blog. Remember the story of the young man from Oregon who tried for two years to get a job at Microsoft. It wasn’t until he started to contribute to conversations on the company’s blog that they took notice and hired him 10 days after he was discovered.  A well-defined social media job search strategy will help boost your reputation and have employers seeking you out than the other way around. It also helps you stand out from your competition who, in all likelihood, is spending all their time on push marketing.

Here is a simple way to start your campaign:

  1. Find a blog post, a tweet or an article from one of the employers you would like to work for.
  2. Read it thoroughly. Decide if you would like to ask a question or give your opinion about it. If someone has already made comments, engage in the dialogue to showcase your expertise.
  3. Don’t let it end there. Take the conversation to your preferred social media platform. Offer it as an update on LinkedIn where people in your network could ‘Like’ it, or offer their own comments. Take the discussion to one of your LinkedIn groups to garner additional exposure.

In a Fast Company Article, the writer of this tells a story of how a 16-year old high school student emailed her out of the blue, and asked to join her as a guest on her TV show. He did not send a resume, but instead included links to his website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. (This kid launched his own social media campaign!). This initiative earned him an invitation to be a guest on the show. Read the kid’s story in the second paragraph of this link: Social Media Campaign

Why Job Seekers Should Get on Board the Social Media Train

SocialNetworkingIf you are a job seeker who has been avoiding the social media recruiting train, it’s time to get on board. That’s because more and more recruiters are riding that train and will continue to do so in future. According to a recent survey from Jobvite, 94% of the 1,600 recruiters they interviewed either use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts. If that’s the case, wouldn’t be a good idea for job seekers to get on board and be found?

Key Findings from the Survey 

  • 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts.
  • 78% of recruiters have made  a hire through social media. Of this number, 92% hired through LinkedIn.
  • 42% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate positively or negatively, based on what they saw after viewing their profile.
  • Social profiles give  recruiters more  confidence in a  candidate’s  professional  and cultural fit.
  • Social recruiting generates strong ROI,  both in dollars and candidate quality.

LinkedIn Dominates 

While these recruiters are using multiple channels to find top candidates, LinkedIn remains the dominant channel according to the report:

  • 96% use LinkedIn to search for candidates
  • 94% use it to contact candidates
  • 93% use it to keep tabs on candidates
  • 92% use it to vet candidates, and
  • 91% use it to post jobs.

Facebook and Twitter round off the top three channels of choice for recruiters at 65% and 55%, respectively.

What Recruiters Look for on Social Profiles

Recruiters not only look for professional experience on a candidate’s social profile, but also for length of tenure, hard skills, industry-related conversations (via blog posts for e.g.), and cultural fit. Sixty-five percent of the recruiters view volunteering and donations to charity as a plus for candidates. The report also shows that when a candidate has a strong social profile, it gives recruiters more confidence about their professionalism and potential as a good cultural fit.

Social Recruiting Generates Strong ROI 

Some recruiters have found that companies that have implemented a social recruiting strategy, have seen a positive impact on the companies’ ROI. For example, they have seen a 33% jump in the time it takes to hire a candidate, a 49% increase in the quantity and quality of candidates, and the quantity and quality of employee referrals have jumped 43%.

These recruiters have said what many people already know: that the best-quality candidates come through referrals from employees’ networks. As a result, 68% of the companies interviewed offer referral compensation to gain a competitive advantage.

Based on the survey, it is even more important for job seekers to become more strategic and develop and nurture relationships with people within the companies they are targetting. Are you ready to ride the social media recruiting train?

Grab a copy of the report here: 2013 JobVite Social Recruiting Survey

7 Habits of Highly Successful Job Seekers

This post is in honour of the legendary management guru Stephen Covey, author of the bestselling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, who passed away recently. Mr. Covey’s principles were not meant to be a quick-fix prescription for personal growth, but a deliberate plan of action to achieve one’s personal, professional or business goals. In the same way, the tips below are not quick-fixes nor are they all-inclusive, but they can be applied with some degree of success if one is committed to professional growth. Highly successful job seekers:

  1. Are Proactive:  They know how fickle the job market is so they adopt a proactive mentality and are always prepared for their next opportunity. As such, their career marketing documents and resources (resume, cover letter, portfolio, personal website or blog) are up-to-date.
  2. Exude Confidence: They know their value and the contributions they have made to the company’s profitability, and are able to articulate this with confidence, but without appearing boastful.
  3. Invest in their Careers: They assess their personal strengths, know their areas for development, and are committed to continuous learning through formal and informal means.
  4. Have a Circle of Influence:  They have built their own circle of influence because they know that they cannot accomplish much on their own and that they need the support of others to succeed. This circle is a formal or informal board of directors of 4-8 people, including some whose career trajectory they would like to emulate, and others who are ready to dispense advice when requested.
  5. Are Active on Social Media: They know that social media is an equal opportunity platform that does not require a Ph.D. to sit at the table, but offers opportunities to have a presence, drive engagement, demonstrate their expertise and build credibility.
  6. Demonstrate Cross-Cultural Competency: They make a deliberate effort to operate in different cultural settings because they recognize the benefits of having diverse groups of talented people working together to solve problems better and faster.
  7. Know How to Collaborate in Virtual Teams: They know that their team members are not always in the cubicle next door, but could be miles or oceans away. In this regard, they have well-developed skills to work productively in virtual teams.

As you reflect on the life of Stephen Covey and his contributions to society, take a moment to reflect on your own career and see if you are on the right path, and even attempt to create your very own ‘7 Habits’ that will help you move your career forward.

Related link: Proactive Workers Stand Out from the Pack

Social Media: The New Job Search Frontier

Recently I did some presentations and a webinar on social media for my clients and a couple of community organizations, including the Kiwanis Club of Brampton.  These presentations offered simple strategies to build a LinkedIn Profile, how job seekers can use social media to market themselves to employers, and how professionals and entrepreneurs can benefit from having an online presence.

Many people are nervous at the mere mention of social media. They are afraid people might misuse their information; they want to guard their privacy, or they are just plain overwhelmed with so many of these tools from which to choose. One webinar participant wrote me to say, “I am scared of a free service that takes my data to make money and promises not to share my information.” She then asked if I thought she was paranoid. Privacy is a legitimate concern, of course, especially since we know, or have heard of many online horror stories, but one does not have to become paranoid.

At one point, I was hesitant to use Facebook, for example. Although I have had an account since 2008, I did not start actively using it until 2010, when I began to see additional benefits other than getting updates from my nieces and nephews. So, social media is scary, and it might look like a time-waster sometimes, but is that enough not to test the waters? From a job seeker’s perspective, is it worth missing out on potential job opportunities, or connecting with a couple of influential decision makers? Wouldn’t it be nice to address someone by name at one of your target companies instead of “Dear Sir/Madam”?

There are many advantages to using social media. During a LinkedIn conference in Toronto last week, the keynoter said, “If you have hired more than 10 people through LinkedIn, stand.” Over 600 HR professionals and recruiters stood up. In other sessions, presenters spoke about how companies can build their employer brands on LinkedIn by reaching out and engaging potential employees through Career Hub Pages and Groups. The overall message from my perspective as a career coach is that job seekers need a LinkedIn presence, for starters.

I also learned that Canada is the 5th largest country on LinkedIn, and that IBM is one of the most active companies on LinkedIn, with over 280,000 employees and 650,000 followers. Want to join IBM? There are lots of people with whom you could connect!

Here’s a summary of some major social media tools:

  • LinkedIn – known as the number one social media tool for business, it has over 150 million members. Not only can profiles be created, but resumes can be uploaded, and by following Company Pages, one is able to keep track of new hires, promotions and the overall health of specific companies.
  • Twitter – a free micro-blogging platform that sends short messages using 140 characters. Recruiters, employers and HR professionals are quite active on Twitter and quite often use it to announce  job vacancies.
  • Facebook – permits businesses to establish a presence and allows people to “Like” and follow those businesses.
  • Pinterest – a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to pinboards. At first glance, one may wonder how effective this is as a job search tool, and the jury is still out on this. However, if you are the creative/artistic type, you can certainly market yourself or your business with it, so, join Pinterest and ‘get ‘Pinspired’!
  •  Google+ – another content sharing service, with an added feature called ‘Hangouts’. It’s a new video service where one can hold meetings, arrange study sessions, family meetings, or social gatherings with up to 10 people. Some companies have already started to conduct interviews with Hangouts.
  • About.me – serves like a parking garage for your online presence. It is a personal page that points people to everything you do around the web. It can be useful as a link in an email instead of uploading your resume and your other documents.

I believe the new job search or business frontier is through social media, and job seekers and entrepreneurs need to leverage its use. None of us can afford to be left out, especially as online interactions are becoming as meaningful as in real life. Does this mean social media is the ‘be all’ of your job search or business? No! What it does is help you build relationships, engage in conversations, and demonstrate your expertise. This will (over time), lead to opportunities, value and profitability.

Still scared? It’s time to jump on the social media bandwagon. Experiment and see which ones resonate with you, because these tools have become major players in how we conduct a job search, how and where we do business, what we purchase, and who we connect with.

Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Modern Ways to Job Search

 

Social media is enabling job seekers to market themselves creatively to employers, and the image above highlights some of the tools they are using. Of course, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook take centre stage. With so many tools, one is left to wonder if the days of the paper resume are really numbered, or as it’s often touted, if “the resume is dead!”  As seen on the image, one-third of human resources managers predict that traditional resumes will be replaced with social/business networking sites.

With respect to networking, although the term generally conjures up images of forced smiles and awkward conversations, it is well-known that more than 80% of job opportunities are found in this manner. Therefore, the onus is on job seekers to learn effective networking skills to improve their chances of job search success.

A blog is a non-intrusive way to get employers interested in your brand without even applying for a job”, says one statement in the image.  This is a message I constantly sell to job seekers, including a group of communications, advertising and marketing professionals I spoke with recently. Use a bit of creativity, start your own blog or contribute to other blogs to stand out from the crowd and grab the attention of potential employers.

While job seekers should embrace these modern job search tools, they also need to be cautious. Using these tools to bash one’s boss or to post inappropriate comments or images online is a breach of social media etiquette.

 

“Read an E-Book Week” is March 4-10, 2012!

Don’t be surprised if from March 4-10, 2012, you see ebook authors offering their books at steep discounts, or for free. You see, March 4, is Read an E-Book Week, a practice that’s been going on for several years. The Canadian Parliament took it a step further by declaring during its 41st sitting in November 2011, that March is Read an E-Book Month. We have Canadian author, Rita Toews, to thank for that. Toews is an award-winning author and founder of E-Book Week.

If you are an author of an ebook, or you have converted your Pbook (printed version) to an ebook, you might want to participate in Read an E-book Week. Additional information can be found on E-Book Week and Smashwords. As a participating author, I am pleased to announce that No Canadian Experience, Eh?  is being offered for $10.97 from March 4-10, 2012. That’s almost a 50% savings!

No Canadian Experience, Eh?, was a ‘first-of-its-kind’ career guide (when the first edition was published in 2007), that addressed the challenges that new Canadians face during their job search. It covers not only job search basics such as resume and cover letter development; preparing for and mastering the interview; building professional networks, and accessing the hidden job market, but includes advice and strategies from top career experts on social media, personal branding, onboarding, green careers, leadership, stress management, career assessments, self-employment, consulting and time management. It also contains advice and tips from recruiters and human resources professionals who understand what employers look for in potential employees.

Make sure to click on the image below to grab your copy, at almost 50% off, before midnight on March 10, 2012.

If you would like to have access to these proven job search and career strategies contributed by 16 career experts, and condensed into this guide, then don’t miss this opportunity! Grab your copy here: Read an eBook Week!

Happy reading, and spread the word about Read an E-Book Week. Hundreds of authors are participating in a variety of ways. See Smashwords

 

*This offer will not be combined with any other offers.

 

What’s all the Hype about Pinterest?

Last year, it was Google+, now it’s Pinterest! Social media is exploding at an alarming pace that it’s becoming quite difficult to keep up. At the same time, as a career coach, I have to know what tools are available so I can guide my job-seeking/career transition clients accordingly.

With that, and as an early adapter, I jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon and requested an invitation. A couple days later my request was granted and I created an account, curated my websites, then decided to explore the tool in more depth. It has visual appeal, for sure, is great for graphic content and creative job seekers could find ways to build their resumes. As a matter of fact, I found one resume I thought was unique and pinned it to my board.  So, since my foray into the tool two weeks ago, here’s what I found:

  • It is a virtual Pinboard that “lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes”, and may I dare say, create somewhat of a resume.
  • It drives more referral traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. Shareaolic Report. If it drives more traffic than LinkedIn, should job seekers be playing in that space?
  • Techcrunch reported that it had 11.7 million unique visitors, faster than any other standalone in history. It was also named by Techcrunch as the fastest startup in 2011. How many of those visitors were recruiters and hiring managers?
  • Their goal is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” A bold goal!

In a couple of days I will be speaking to a group of communications, advertising and marketing professionals, and with such a creative bunch, you bet Pinterest will be a part of the discussion!

Can job seekers use this tool to maximize their job search? What are your thoughts?

By the way, if you wish to come along for the ride, you can click here to follow me on Pinterest.

 

Related posts: Can Pinterest Help Your Job Search?.