May 23, 2010
Online presence helps companies such as Amazon, Expedia and Microsoft notice you
Special to NWjobs
To stand out from the crowd, job seekers should demonstrate initiative online, tech companies say. (Thinkstock)
Last fall, Liz Stinson, a recent graduate of Stanford’s Ph.D. program in computer science, wanted to get into the growing field of cloud computing, so she began blogging about Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform.
“I had maybe five regular blog readers,” says Stinson, who mostly read white papers and other Web articles about Azure and “boiled down the language” to explain how it works. Luckily for Stinson, one of those readers was a recruiter for Microsoft who had been searching the Web for terms that relate to Azure. The recruiter was intrigued enough by the blog to arrange for Stinson, who lived in the Bay Area, to interview in Redmond.
About six months later, Stinson was hired as the new security program manager for Windows Azure. “I had only just started looking for a job,” she says. “So this was weirdly serendipitous.”
For those who want to be hired by high-tech companies, Stinson’s story illustrates the immense advantage that tech-savvy job seekers can enjoy if they have a relevant online presence.
Set yourself apart
Don’t get pigeonholed. Working with tech-firm vendors can be helpful, but be careful not to become identified too closely with them or you might be seen as “just a consultant,” Ashley says.
Be specific. “Don’t say, ‘I automated this process.’ Say you saved your company 10 hours or X dollars because of your work,” Graves says. “Accurately describe what you did and what your responsibilities were.”
Speak up. Many younger job seekers “forget to brag about themselves,” Graham says. “Don’t be afraid to talk about awards you have won.” Try calling hiring managers directly. “Anybody who ever calls me gets an automatic interview,” Richardson says.
“Microsoft is looking for people who are passionate about technology,” says Ryan Graves, staffing consultant for Microsoft and contributor to the company’s JobsBlog.com recruiting portal. “We’re looking at blogs and user groups to find out, ‘Are you contributing about technology? Do you care about the subject matter?’ ”
Kristin Graham, vice president of recruiting at online travel site Expedia, says activity on social-media sites such as LinkedIn is now almost as essential as having an up-to-date résumé. Following hiring managers on Twitter and commenting on the latest news about high-tech trends is also a plus, as it demonstrates knowledge of the company and industry.
“Also, there’s something to be said for good, old-fashioned flattery,” Graham says.
Once you discover who the hiring managers are, keep doing your homework via your LinkedIn contacts to find out who can introduce you to these decision makers, says Rita Ashley, a local job-search coach.
Another good avenue: Get to know vendors who work with the tech firms in which you are interested. “That shows that you have a vested interest in helping that company succeed,” Ashley says.
Sometimes, the flashier candidates get noticed first. Michele Glisson, a spokeswoman for Amazon.com, says her team recently met — and hired — a software-development engineer after meeting his avatar through a Second Life online job fair.
Graham says some job seekers have written cover letters in binary code, included coupons redeemable for “one free interview” or sent video résumés to Expedia using flip cameras.
While cleverness can grab a hiring manager’s attention, flexibility is even more attractive.
“Companies are getting leaner, so it’s good to show that you can wear a lot of hats,” says Kim Richardson, vice president of recruiting for job-placement firm Rylem. In a crowded field of qualified candidates, those who also have sales, marketing, finance and business-analysis experience will stand out, she says.
Stinson’s story at Microsoft shows how tech workers don’t have to splash an online brand on every corner of the Web to get noticed; they just have to demonstrate initiative and competence.
“If we see someone who is a real rock star, talking about technology, we will go after that person,” Graves says. “They won’t have to come to us.”
- career profile (176)
- cool jobs (89)
- education and training (70)
- entry level (73)
- etiquette (121)
- events (72)
- featured (526)
- finding your passion (103)
- health care (82)
- HR (70)
- interviewing (98)
- job fairs (69)
- management (119)
- market trends (94)
- networking (302)
- resumes (108)
- salary (95)
- social media (101)
- technology (131)
- work/life balance (100)