Like millions of others, in the past I always looked to CareerBuilder or Monster.com when I needed to look for work. I learned the hard way that there is an entirely different to approach the job market that involves more than standard resume uploads, emailing prospects, or spending needless hours entering information onto static job boards.
Why social networking?
When I heard about professional job boards (like LinkedIn), I thought “Why bother?”, I could just use the standard methods that I have always used, then I realized that this old way was simply not working anymore. I would spend endless hours on hours seeking out job prospects with dead end results, it was obvious that I was just a number in an endless sea of applicants. I then took some time to learn more about these online professional sites and it started to make sense, make the employer look for you rather than you look for them. I learned that networking and “personal advertising” is one of the fastest ways for professionals to get my name out there. I took the time to track down former colleagues and asked for a small paragraph of recommendation and just like that, I built my own “work testimonial” as given to me by my former coworkers! LinkedIn allows their users to post these recommendations on your profile page along with an overview of your former employment and educational history. Collecting these recommendations are a valuable tool to add influence amongst other professionals in your network; according to LinkedIn, their network boasts the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with 161 million members in over 200 countries and has had more than 50 million users globally. I learned that my friends, former colleagues, their friends and even their parent’s friends are all interconnected to me just by association and before long I had close to 400 connections to my profile!
Resume= “Professional” Life Story!
I learned from experience that my resume was more than just a document, it was my “professional” life story and if it was not interesting enough, then the prospective employer will just move on to the next applicant. The words used to describe my professional life was my “personal” advertisement, so I took the time to research and choose my words carefully. I went to the bookstore and poured out hours of research to develop a better way to develop my resume and I learned from this research that it takes mere seconds to get that hiring manager to scan your resume, cover letter, or online resume. I took the time to carefully frame my words around my specific skill set. I learned that It is best to use action words to describe leadership abilities or as the person who was the key player in causing a company’s success. The most important concept was to self-broadcast my image, professional history and skills set as the “ultimate employee” for that company.
Concentrate on your “digital” public image
At first I didn’t want to upload my picture on my profile page, so I left it blank for a while. I noticed that the number of “viewers” of professionals in my network was slow and that the other people in my network had a profile picture, so I thought I would take a chance and go ahead and post a picture. So I dressed up and literally took about a hundred of pictures with my computer’s web cam until I got the image that I would feel that was appropriate to upload. It did not take me long to realize how different this professional image was until after I posted the photo and the number of connections, views, and most importantly- job offers started to follow immediately after the post. It made sense to me afterwards that posting that photo gave that prospective employer a chance to meet me at a glance rather than just looking at the resume by itself.
Make some noise about yourself in a blog or group forum
So I took the time to post my resume, gathered recommendations, posted a good online resume for prospective employers, and now have over 400 connections to my profile. At first I thought this was good enough, but then I learned that this was just the beginning: social networking means building interest amongst an audience of prospective employers; I entered in job discussion board groups and wrote articles that show that I have the expertise that managers are looking for. Chances are that you know a great deal about a subject that you feel passionate about, so find a group that aligns with your interest and expand on it.
Although at first it seems to be a great deal of extra work to create additional work like writing articles or blogs and seeking recommendations from former coworkers, it is crucial to understand that your competition is doing all this and more. In terms of influence, you have to get your name out there in order to survive the new job market. My online resume has taken more than two years to build and continues on even today, the most important thing to remember is that building your own online presence will take time, research, and absolute diligence to create a positive outcome.