A Job Hunter’s Guide to Getting Noticed Online
Set Up a Communications Hub on the Web for your Job Search
Part 2 of The Modern (Older) Job Hunter
If you have worked for a single employer over a period of years (we’ve been looking at 15 to 25 years as an example), you have surely built up a reputation at your workplace. (Hopefully, it’s a good one, not just built on knowing where all the skeletons are buried.) With that reputation comes a network in the company and, possibly, in your field, too. If not, the best time to build these connections is before you are laid off or leave the company.
But, when you are job hunting, that reputation, that network and the recommendations that took you so many years to build won’t do you a lot of good unless you have an online hub that allows others to find you online. I’ve talked to a number of job hunters who find that their best supervisors and colleagues, who they’ve depended on for recommendations or leads, have now also left the company, been laid off, moved to an undisclosed location, or (horrors) died. They feel abandoned, like they’re starting all over again from scratch.
Even if you have glowing recommendations from your former bosses, they won’t do you a lot of good if a hiring manager (or recruiter) can’t find them.
Likewise, you might have a stellar reputation and skills out the wazoo, but if recruiters for a company are doing a quiet search for candidates (or potential future candidates) and they can’t find you online, the perfect job might pass you by.
The key to a modern job search today is to have a web hub where people and search engines can find you. Most of the preliminaries of the job hunt are now online. It’s where jobs descriptions are searched, where reputations are hawked, connections are made, and where HR and hiring managers search for talent. Unless you are looking for the most exclusive executive positions or you have a union hiring hall, you need to be on the Web.
Build an online HQ
You need to create a web home where people can find you and learn about you. Google and Bing (and other search engines) also need to be able to find you. It’s where you can flaunt your skills and hawk your wares.
There are many ways people can set their flag on the web these days. You can have your own website and/or blog. Personal résumé sites are becoming more common, too. You can set up shop on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, Pinterest, YouTube and many other locations.
But, for most people, LinkedIn is the easiest way to build an HQ that is automatically scanned by Google. Google and LinkedIn are the two most common tools hiring people look to find new people.
Many people say LinkedIn is just your online résumé. But if you treat LinkedIn simply as a résumé, you really are missing the boat. LinkedIn can be much more, and your profile is much more, too.
In addition to being your online résumé, your profile is also your portfolio where you can allow others to see your work product with just a click. It’s also a marketing center (more on marketing later). It’s where you list your job skills so hiring people can find you (and your endorsements). You also add recommendations – which are worth their weight in gold. Your profile can also help you attract LinkedIn Connections and promote your networking, too. LinkedIn can also be where you publish and get recognized as an industry expert.
You can’t do most of that with just a résumé!
LinkedIn isn’t the only game in town, but it’s where many hiring managers and recruiters turn to first (except for certain niches, such as the performing arts and certain high-tech jobs, and the previously-mentioned union workers).
Chances are you are already on other social media, too. You can also network and get a job on Facebook (yes, Facebook), Twitter, Google+, even Pinterest. But you should select one single area as your central hub. For most people, that’s LinkedIn.
The main reason LinkedIn makes a good hub is because that’s where the employers, the HR managers and the recruiters (those from within the company’s HR department and those who work freelance) are looking for people. LinkedIn sells services to these people, including very sophisticated (and very expensive) services for larger companies who need a full pipeline of well trained workers. (See our Frugal Guidance 2 articles on LinkedIn Recruiting for job hunters, The Job Hunter’s Guide to LinkedIn Recruiter and What Job Hunters Should Know About The Corporate Recruiters’ LinkedIn.) Several new features should be coming online right now.
In the past couple of years, LinkedIn has become a publishing platform where members write about a wide variety of topics, mostly dealing with business. Why publish? Because a good article can be read, on LinkedIn, by hundreds or thousands of readers, and those readers can go to your profile with just a click of the mouse (or the tap of a finger) and learn more about you. They may send you an invitation and you can expand your network. You can also view who has looked at your profile and contact them if that makes sense. (This is also a popular technique for small business owners and freelancers to find new clients.)
LinkedIn is also a great tool for finding out information about a company while you are doing your research. You can also find (and get in touch with) people inside a company, find out which groups they hang out in, and do the same research on them that they do on you. Lots of companies maintain a company page on LinkedIn. LinkedIn also has a job search tool where they can advertise job openings. You might be able to respond to the ad by clicking a button to apply with your LinkedIn profile – no cover letter or résumé required (at least at first).
Another good reason to job search on LinkedIn is to use LinkedIn’s Groups. Unfortunately, in the past year, LinkedIn has made some strange changes to groups that have had the effect of annoying group owners, making some groups harder to find, and sometimes hindering interactive conversations. So, unless you can find the right group, this is less helpful than in the past. (In response, many group owners have been moving elsewhere, including Facebook and Google+.)
For example, Donna Svei, a résumé and career coach, has moved her Avid Careerist site for job hunters on Facebook. It’s a good place for job hunters to learn about the process and find out some of the latest ideas on job search. It seems to have been on a clear growth path since leaving LinkedIn.
Just as LinkedIn isn’t the only place you can set up shop online, it’s also not the only place companies set up shop, either. Your target company may also have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. They probably have their own website, too.
Most job hunters look for jobs on corporate pages and in job aggregation sites (such as Indeed, SimplyHired, Monster and others). But these job listings are just a subset of all the available jobs, since most companies simply don’t advertise many of their jobs. How many? Estimates range that 75% to 85% of all job openings are never advertised.
Today, more and more companies use employee recommendations as a hiring strategy. So having a contact within a company is more important than ever.
For this hidden job market, LinkedIn is one tool you can use.
So, when is the best time to build or revise your LinkedIn profile?
My favorite answer comes from Neal Schaffer (@NealSchaffer), one of the more thoughtful social media and marketing experts who frequently travels between Japan and the U.S. Years ago he noted that there is an Asian saying that goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today.” Likewise, the best time to build your LinkedIn profile is before you need it. The next best time is today. (I’ve never forgotten that quote. Thanks, Neal.)
LinkedIn can be much more than an online résumé. It can also help you:
- Create a social media hub for others to find you.
- Build (or expand) a functioning network.
- Become a thought leader.
- Become a publisher.
- Re-connect with others, such as alumni, former work colleagues, others in the same industry.
- Learn something.
- Develop new skills.
- Yes, help you find a job, too.
For freelancers and contractors, LinkedIn is also a way to reach out to new customers. Remember, LinkedIn strives to be a BTB platform, too.
Once you have your online hub for your job search, then you need to market yourself. That’s our next topic.
Our first post in this series was The Modern (Older) Job Hunter.
How do you use LinkedIn for your job search and career? Please share in the comments below.
“Dew on a spider’s web” photo is by Luc Vlatour. Used courtesy of a Creative Commons license.
LinkedIn™ is a registered trademark of the LinkedIn Corporation as is the in logo.
LinkedIn Logo Lounge is courtesy of LinkedIn.
Mac Laptop photo is by George Yanakiev, courtesy of StockSnap.io. The image was later reworked in Photoshop with Topaz Labs Texture Effects by the author.