March 14, 2012
Social media boot camp: Help for your digital self
Last week I wrote about the necessity of face-to-face networking, and about how there's a methodical way to go about making connections that could land you a job without being annoying or pushy.
We can sing the praises of in-person networking all we want to -- and we should -- but it's still the digital age. And you simply cannot hope to be a successful job seeker if you stick your head in the sand. I don't care what industry you're in, or what generational bracket you belong to: We all have digital personas whether we like it or not. And the smart professional, employed or not, will shape that persona.
What do you stand to gain? Recruiters are using social media, probably more than you think they are. This means you need to do more than be careful not to post pictures of yourself winning beer-guzzling contests on Facebook. You are your own best promoter. You can network through digital channels, but you can't do so if your digital persona is the equivalent of showing up to an interview in dirty sweatpants and holey socks.
Technology changes quickly. It's easy to become complacent, even for those of us comfortable with social media and our digital doppelganger. Earlier this year I realized I had done so myself. My digital persona was looking a little, well, outdated. A little lame. I realized I needed a quick social media boot camp for my own image. No sooner than a few days after rebranding my digital image, I was recruited.
Even if you think you're doing enough on the social-media networking front, stop and assess whether more could be done. Take a couple of days and put yourself through a boot camp of your own. Some places to start:
• LinkedIn. Just having a basic profile in LinkedIn is not enough. Start by filling out your profile completely (there's a handy tracker on the right that tells you what percentage away you are from a complete profile). Import your resume and flesh out your skills and job history.
Create a descriptive and catchy "professional headline" that leads your profile. Mine went from the forgettable "Writer and Editor" to "Social Media Hound, Writer & Storyteller, Perfectionist Editor." Utilize the summary box to create a mission statement for yourself as a professional (think about what message you most want to give to prospective employers and connections).
Finally, connect with others in your industry, join groups, follow companies you're interested in, and ask for recommendations. Include links to your personal website (see below).
• Facebook. I can't believe how many people I know don't utilize the fantastic networks they already have -- through friends, family and acquaintances -- when searching for a job. Do your contacts know you're looking for a job? Have you asked them to send their ideas and contacts to you?
Have you thought about promoting your skills and experience via Facebook? If not, you should. Think about how your Facebook persona appears to connections. Posting interesting news from your field and observations about your industry and job search -- all with a positive, professional and energetic attitude -- will make people take notice of you and what you have to offer.
• A website. Not everyone needs a personal website, but it is an opportunity to show your networks and prospective employers how you shine. Depending on your industry, you might be able to visually highlight past work, projects and experience. You can tell people more about your approach to your job, your skills and your goals.
Through free platforms like WordPress, simple websites and blogs can be set up in hours without any HTML skills. If you choose to blog about your area of expertise, your industry or your work, you can provide fresh content that will attract viewers and show prospective employers how engaged you are.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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