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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.

Monday Rx: Unemployed & Down in the Dumps? Try Freelancing

Another Monday has come around and you are still unemployed and down in the dumps, right? Why not pick yourself up and ask yourself, or someone else, the following questions:

  • What is it that I am pretty good at?
  • What am I known for?
  • Why is that some people come to me (instead of someone else) when they need to solve a particular problem?

Your answer could help you pinpoint skills you didn’t realize you have, or skills you have been taking for granted. With this awareness, it is possible for you to parlay your skills, (meaning “to make good use of an asset or advantage to obtain success”), and earn some legal money ‘on the side’. You could be selling your expertise – the skills you are good at – on several online marketplaces. Freelance websites like oDesk, Guru, Elance, and Freelanceswitch allow you to register and offer your services on a freelance basis.

Then, there is Fiverr, a site that builds itself as “The place where people share things they are willing to do for $5”, and Goferr, offering similar services or products, but for $25. These sites are not for everyone, and mentioning them here, do not constitute an endorsement or an affiliation of any kind. However, they may be worth your while to explore to see if you could earn some legal interim cash while you continue your job search. If you do decide to register with any of these sites, be cautious and pay special attention to their Terms of Service.

So, instead of holding a pity party today, explore the sites and see what happens!

To your success,

 

 

Need résumé, interview coaching or career advice? Contact me at info[at]thewrightcareer.com or 647-930-4763.  You can also visit www.thewrightcareer.com.

Monday Rx: Help a Co-Worker Today

The 10th Anniversary of September 11, brought back so many memories, and while it’s human nature for us to focus on the sadness of the event, today, let’s reflect on the positive aspects of people helping people during that crisis. In such a spirit, and just one day after the anniversary, is there something you could do to help someone, probably a co-worker? By doing so, you will take your mind off the Monday morning blues and focus it on someone else.

Could you be a mentor? Have you had the benefit of a mentor? If you have, you know it doesn’t have to be a long drawn-out process. Mentoring is as easy as having coffee once a week and asking, “How is it going?” It could be an offer to assist someone struggling with their workload, or with an issue that’s in the realm of your expertise. It could be as easy as offering career advice. According to @BoardMtrcs on Twitter, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” It’s as simple as that!

A survey by CERIC (Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling) states that “While mentoring is more common with people in management, professional and executive ranks, few individuals at the lower level have had a mentor, and among those who have, most value the relationship for the career advice and encouragement they received.”

Do you see a window of opportunity here?  Can you be a mentor to someone who does not fall within the ranks of those mentioned in the CERIC survey? Can you give them the feeling that they are important even though they are not an executive or a manager?

Don’t think you have what it takes to be a mentor? Find another way today, to help out a co-worker!

To your success,