Confidential Job Search Alternatives Online and Off
In our last post we discussed some of the problems of keeping your job search secret on LinkedIn, the most public forum for professionals and job seekers. If you are in a confidential job search, one way to help keep your search secret is to do more away from LinkedIn.
Obviously, your colleagues are not only on LinkedIn; chances are that many of them are using Facebook and Twitter, and others may be on Google+ and Pinterest and lots of other locations. However, your HR department is less likely to be monitoring your profile or your job groups on other platforms, and a few services offer a higher degree of anonymous participation.
Even if you are not using these sites for job hunting, you can join and use them to show you are proficient in a variety of social media, which might make you more attractive to some employers.
Google+ has lots of active communities (the equivalent to LinkedIn groups) for professional topics as well as job search groups. You still have the possibility of being seen there by colleagues from work, but the threat level is probably lower (unless, of course, you work for Google).
Remember, while you can follow many larger companies on a variety of social media (including Google+), only LinkedIn will give you lists of people working for them. However, once you connect, you can take your conversations elsewhere.
On Google+, you follow people without sending invitations, similar to Twitter. Others can follow you easily, too. Google+ is a good place to follow companies, thought leaders, and bloggers about job search.
Whether you are in a search or not, if you want to test drive an idea for a blog (to show your are a thought leader in a particular field), Google+ is a good way to see if you are able to write on a schedule and to see if there is a readership for a particular topic. It takes time to build up that readership and the posts are not archived with the permanence that a blog provides. But, if you haven’t blogged before, Google+ is a good alternative to the newer LinkedIn Publish for testing the waters. Google+ has potentially a larger and more varied audience than LinkedIn, too.
Twitter is a great place to follow thought leaders, companies, bloggers, and job services without broadcasting it publicly. Note that those who you follow and those who follow you are both public lists. So, if you are going to follow lots of career and job hunting resources on Twitter, it might be a good idea to create an anonymous account for that purpose. Keep a “public” account for general Tweeting, and a “private” account your friends and colleagues won’t recognize. Don’t use your real name on the account. This offers a level of anonymity you cannot get on Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn.
On Twitter, it’s often not the newsfeed posts but the links that provide the educational and meaty info.
It’s easy to expand your Twitter network to professionals you like and admire:
- Do a search for a specific topic or job field on Twitter.
- You will likely find a few interesting people who share links to blogs and news about that topic.
- Follow them.
- Go to their Twitter profile.
- Click the buttons to see who they follow and who follows them.
Likely you will find other interesting people there. Follow some of them and repeat the process. It’s fascinating to see who connects with whom and how easy it is to grow your network on Twitter.
Some Twitter members keep lists of people in a particularly area or field to make it easier to follow them.
Learn how to use hashtags on Twitter to find tweets about specific topics.
Twitter chats are also a fun way to participate with groups of people on a wide variety of topics, but heavily weighted towards using social media. Twitter chats usually occur at a set time every week, usually for one or two hours. They are fun but often hectic.
If you want to follow a Twitter chat, use a chat host such as tweetchat.com, twubs.com, twitterfall.com or a social media communications tool like HootSuite. GnossisArts keeps a list of Twitter chats. Scroll to the bottom for an alphabetized list.
Pinterest is newer and more visually oriented than most other services. Some people have used Pinterest in creative ways for their job hunt. However, if you are in a stealth job search, posting your résumé on Pinterest is not a good idea.
If you work in a visual design or artistic field, though, Pinterest might be a great site to show off your work projects and volunteer activities without advertising you’re looking for a job.
Even if you are just using Pinterest to show off your hobbies and other interests, using the site shows potential employers you are familiar with a variety of social media.
With about 1.2 billion members, Facebook’s size has its advantages and disadvantages.
It’s biggest advantage is the ability to connect and network with people you can’t find elsewhere. Facebook is a much less formal site than LinkedIn and has many more public features and distractions.
Note that many people use LinkedIn for their pro networking and Facebook for their social. Some of us don’t mix the two.
Facebook is a great place to follow companies and organizations. With recent changes, though, don’t expect most announcements to show up on your timeline. You need to go to their page to keep up with the news. Many of the company pages are more consumer oriented than you might find on LinkedIn (B2C instead of B2B). Some have engaged lots of readers and commenters. Monitor their comments as part of your corporate research. Some companies do list job openings on Facebook.
Note that if you participate in conversations with the businesses you follow, they may show up on your timeline for others to see
Facebook is a great place for general networking, but it’s lack of privacy makes it difficult to do a confidential job search. Even the job search app, BeKnown, emphasizes letting your network know what you are looking for. The publicity is great for a normal job search, but less helpful for a stealth search.
BeKnown (created by Monster.com) was a hot newcomers around 2011, but today there isn’t much buzz about it, suggesting that it never reached its potential as a job search tool. (Another similar job-hunting tool, BranchOut, has since morphed into the social media communications field.)
Always check your privacy settings on Facebook to avoid less-than-professional comments and photos being shared with potential employers.
If you want advice on job hunting, networking, social media, marketing, and almost any other field of endeavor, you can learn a lot by reading blogs. Some of the best (and worst) amateur and professional journalism is available on blogs.
There are many ways to find blogs of interest.
1. Just Google a question or topic and look at the results. The first several listings may be commercial sites which pay for the top billing, but look below, particularly, for articles by individual bloggers. Take a look and see if their writing makes sense. For more specific search results, use Google Blog Search.
2. There are many sites that aggregate links and / or rate blogs, including several blog directories, such as:
3. Use an RSS Reader app, such as Feedly to make recommendations on different topics. These apps also help you keep up with the latest on the sites you follow.
Search Twitter. Many bloggers announce their new posts on Twitter.
Specialized job sites
There are many specialized sites with career-specific job listings for freelancers, temp workers, tech workers, programmers, designers, green careers, medical, higher ed, food service, and much more. Activity on these sites should be more private than on LinkedIn.
Remember that your current HR department might be looking for professionals much like you, so you need to be careful about posting public résumés or announcements here, too.
The second largest search engine in the world, YouTube has a wealth of information about almost everything. You can view many corporate video channels as well as job hunting tips.
Be focused on what you are looking for, because the distractions here abound!
Are You Dizzy with All the Options, Yet?
The trick to growing your list of job hunting resources is to stay focused on your goals and not get so immersed in the technology that you forget to come up for air. Instead of trying to learn how to use several groups at once, it’s better to try to learn one or two things every day. Small steps are good for keeping your search unobtrusive as well.
However, if you are finding it a challenge to cover your job hunting tracks online, sometimes the easiest thing to do is to take your networking and search off-line. In our next article in this series, More Stealthy Job Search Alternatives to LinkedIn, we’ll cover other resources, including your library, government resources, and networking groups and more. We’ll also have a roundup of the main points in our five posts, and an online reading list.
The Mysterious Woman Shushing photo (originally “Woman Showing the Sign for Silence With Her Index Finger”) is used courtesy of Marin and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.