I know what you are thinking. This is a bold suggestion from me but let’s face it, what would you do if you are forced to throw away your one-dimensional paper CV, and pretend that you don’t have one. Then, think, how else would you get a hiring manager’s attention? How would you tell them a believable story? Are there alternative methods that you are not currently utilizing to showcase your skills?
Few weeks ago, I came across an apt article written by Fauzie Burke, the Founder and President of FSB Associate, in the Huffington Post which focused on this topic. In the article, when Fauzie needed to hire people, she found out that her approach to hiring had changed. As she worked on branding authors on the web, she was looking for people who can demonstrate that they have the skills to help them market and publicize books in a new way using social media and web technologies to communicate a story. What she found was that a CV alone was just not enough to get her attention. As I am sure that you will agree with me, the job market is fierce, for sure, and everyone is looking for someone with an edge, that special je ne se qua that will set the person above the rest.
Now, my point is that Fauzie as a hiring manager is not alone. Habits have changed, we now rely more on technology and the Internet to further inform us whenever we have to make some decisions. How many times in the past has this happened to you? You see that perfect position, so you put together a CV and send it off with the hopes of getting a call back for an interview. Then, you wait and wait but no one calls. So, you wonder, you scratch your head and question what you could have done better. Well, it is most likely that just your CV alone simply does not do a good job of reflecting what the employers want. There are several other highly qualified and experienced candidates out there too who submitted their CV.
Yet another thing to think about is: when you need to buy an item on eBay, Amazon or do business with any company, instead of just searching for the item and paying or finding the company online and starting your transactions; you take a few seconds to read through the reviews, feedback and comments placed there by other customers before you in order to ensure that you make an informed decision before continuing. Well, that is exactly what is happening in organizations. Most savvy hiring managers nowadays “Google” candidates and the skills they demonstrate on the web. This is the new information age when the web is bubbling with tools, platforms and resources to help you demonstrate your skills and this means that you should not depend solely on just a paper CV to showcase your attributes.
For your information, the idea that employers perform Internet searches on job candidates is nothing new, and the frequency of these searches is climbing every day. Some experts report that up to 85% of hiring managers “Google” a candidate before or after an interview. Hiring managers routinely “Google” their candidates to learn more about them, as well as to filter out candidates with no information, little or negative information about them.
Search results are critical to all job seekers. Mr. Chris Perry, the founder of Career Rocketeer, a Web site that provides career-development advice faced a challenge when he tried to establish himself as a career expert: “A Google search of my name didn’t bring up anything about me. I basically didn’t exist,” says Mr. Perry. So Mr. Perry got to work and generated consistent content for Google to index and attribute to him. “First, I created a LinkedIn profile in which I customized my profile URL so that it included my name,” he says. He then launched Career Rocketeer and started putting out content related to his area of interest.
So as a job seeker, what else do you have to do?
These are simple and actionable tips – I recommend that you use a variety of social media tools to help you stand out to potential employers so that you can get a job faster.
Google Your Name
The first thing to do is to Google your name. Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn have gained popularity among hiring managers because of their convenience and a growing anxiety about hiring the right people. There is little or nothing to prevent hiring managers from discriminating on the basis of personal information discovered through social Web sites. New graduates, the most active social networkers, are most likely to be the target of Web research. About one-third of those web searches lead to rejections.
So what if you find negative information about yourself?
The most straightforward way is to scour your social network sites and remove anything you would not be proud to share with anyone. Stop producing content that has the potential to provoke a negative response, and publish appropriate content at a high volume so that you can push unsavoury or irrelevant results off the most frequently viewed top pages.
One way to stand out to potential employers is to develop a personal story and a personal brand. Today, your online personal brand is much more valuable than your CV.
Know Your Skills, Interests and Goal
What do you want to tell the world about you, your skills, interests and goal? For any job interview you attend, they will surely be asked this question, “Tell me about yourself.” This is what your elevator speech should be about. Make sure that you can answer this question with your individual goals in mind. Above all, be authentic; confident and let your answer radiate YOU. Then, with the help of a mentor or a close friend, brainstorm about the ways in which you can communicate your skills and attributes to potential employers. While you at it, also think of ways that potential employers will be able to verify you, your professional experiences and your references with ease.
Embrace Social Media
This comes with a warning, whatever you do, you should always be very careful whenever you are using any social media tool. Although, you can get a job via social media, also note that you can lose your job or miss out on a job interview or offer via social media. Be careful because your online image can limit your opportunities if you don’t keep things polite, clean and professional. See the 11 Ways To Lose Your Job On Facebook. Your professional presence and profile on social media platform is crucial. It allows you to present your past work experiences and professional connections to potential employers. Are you on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook? As a job seeker, you should be social networking. If you are not using any of the freely available tools yet, this is the time to start using them. Ramp up your networking efforts and locate people who work in the companies you are interested in through the social networking sites. Take the time to build rapport before inquiring about job openings. With a little luck, you can develop relationships with people who will let you know as soon as the right job opens up, or who may even offer an introduction or put in a good word for you. At the very least, they may be willing to give you advice on how to approach the person you need to speak with.These Social Network sites and the Internet are powerful and they can help you get back to work fast. While networking is a powerful job hunting tool, don’t abandon other sources of information about job openings. Be strategic about using job boards, job search engines, local online newspapers and other sources.
Here are some social sites and the services that can help you develop a three-dimensional CV and your personal brand:
Twitter is free. Register and use your real name on Twitter. If you are a job seeker, a professional and if you are not looking to offend anyone, why wouldn’t you use your real name? The key is to follow the right people on Twitter. If your target companies are on Twitter, then, follow them. RT (Re-Tweet) them. If they blog, RT their blog posts with a supportive comment. If you don’t have anything supportive or nice to say, then don’t say anything. Create your Twitter lists and once you are comfortable on Twitter, send @ messages to start a conversation. You can also DM (direct message) to begin a real dialogue but don’t pester people or appear desperate. For further information, see Twitter Search in Plain English and see the 10 users to follow as a job seeker. In addition, use the #hash tags to get pertinent job information – see how via Mashable. Your twitter feed will allow potential employers to examine what sort of things interest you and what sort of information you choose to share with your social network. You can easily become a source of good information and resources for people. However, be certain to follow the companies that you would like to work for. For further information, see a list of 14 Cool Things That People Do on Twitter.
LinkedIn is one of the best places online to find a job, period. It’s also a great place to connect with top leaders, industry gurus, generate targeted leads for your business, drive traffic to your website, and more. LinkedIn enables you to showcase your employment history, professional contacts, and endorsements from peers and clients. Potential employers want to see the extent of your commitment to an industry, as well as the level of respect that you have gained from colleagues and former bosses. Make sure you use a professional looking photo of yourself. See the 13 Essential Tips for Landing a Job on LinkedIn and How to Tweak Your LinkedIn Profile to Stand Out From the Crowd.
Explaining the importance and reach of Facebook is surely not necessary. If you are a job seeker and you are not already on Facebook, it is time to start. What may surprise you is that Facebook is no longer confined to a younger demographic. Last year, the number of users between 35 and 54 years of age jumped 276%, to over 6 million people. If you are interested in a particular organization, become a fan of their page on Facebook and also become a regular contributor. First “like” their page and then begin providing feedback. You can “Share” and “Like” their content.
A blog is a great way to show off your expertise and comment on the latest news in your industry. Of course, you have to keep your posts current, a well-written blog that is representative of your brand and goals in all ways should help with your job search. The point is, every time another site references your content, your search-engine cachet goes up. You can find highly trafficked blogs by doing Google searches for industry keywords. For more information on blogging, see Blogging for Dummies and the List of 100 Blogs for Your Job Search.
Of course, limiting your content just to the written word is becoming increasingly unnecessary. Creating audio and video content has become a trivial task. Services such as YouTube and applications such as AudioBoo make production and hosting easy. If you can, post videos of yourself on YouTube to give employers an idea of your presence and persona. If your personality is your greatest asset, why not showcase and flaunt it? Remember Justin Bieber ‘s YouTube success story. The idea behind developing an online brand is twofold: to spread the word about you — your story, experience, and your portfolio — and also to allow potential employers to verify your professional history — references, dates of employment, professional recognition.
Use of Keywords
For all your online profiles, be sure to incorporate key words. Apart from these strategies, there are other ways job seekers and career changers can influence what appears when they are searched on Google. You should always incorporate key words or key phrases related to your career direction into your profiles, and to your online content. For further information, see Google’s adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.
Some companies organize or attend conferences to show off their new products and services. Find out where your target companies go. This is a target rich environment because other similar companies will likely be there as well. Go around, introduce yourself, ask questions and mingle. Make a memorable impression. Have your business card to hand out too.
Walk the Talk, Look and Act the Part
Dress and look the part. Do your research and become a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Know your industry like the back of your hand. Learn about what the company of your interest does, the services and products it supplies and who its customers are likely to be. Look at the company website, particularly its corporate information. Search online to find out about anything else that may be useful, like charity work, awards and sponsorship. Follow the trends and know about all new mergers and takeovers. You have to be aware of any emerging technology, trends and have your finger on the pulse of things. Remain current on any issues or developments in your field. It is extremely impressive during a meeting and in an interview if you know about the latest trends in the industry. What this will do for you is that you will impress the potential employer, and get the job. Perfect your pitch and let your elevator speech roll off your tongue on cue. Above all, radiate confidence and be positive.
So as you can see, by trying a few of the ideas above, you can become known to your target companies and get noticed by potential employers even before you have to send your paper CV to them. Don’t forget that you can always send an electronic covering letter that links to your various profiles online. My advice is that you have to find ways to set yourself aside and beat competition by upgrading your credentials and having a presence on the Internet.
My question to you is, have you found a job through Social Media or have you connected with prospective employers online? Let us hear from you. And as a hiring manager, would you give someone a job based on their online profile or do you still want a CV even if there was enough information about the candidate publicly available through social media? Let us also hear from you. If you have other tips, feel free to share them with our readers.