Career Management

Manage Your Social Media

This blog, in a slightly different format, was originally posted on LocalWork.com.

CC image courtesy Sean MacEntee via Flickr.com

CC image courtesy Sean MacEntee via Flickr.com

According to a 2013 CareerBuilder.com survey, 39% of employers screen a job applicant’s social media sites. Of those, another 43% found something on Facebook, Twitter, etc., to cause them to not hire a candidate. Both of these figures are increases from the year before, and it is expected that the numbers are even higher today.

We can debate whether it is right, ethical, or legal for employers to consider our social media posts, but the fact is, they are.

Job seekers must manage their social media.

First, stop digging a hole. If you have made disparaging comments about your job, boss, or colleagues, if you brag about playing hooky, or if you post about your binge drinking, drug use, or sexual conquests – stop! It turns out, our mothers, and Thumper, are right. If you have ever posted anything like these, delete them, now.

Second, set your privacy settings where they make sense. My LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are open (I want to be found), while my Facebook is restricted to Friends/Family. However, I am fully aware that all it takes is for one Facebook friend to “share” a post to their feed and all of a sudden, it is out there.

Third, assess the damage. Search for your name, including variants (James and Jim) on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Then, set up a Google Alert for your own name.

Fourth, if there is anything potentially damaging to your online reputation, then bury it. Open new social media accounts; sign on to the message boards of your professional affiliations; start a blog. Post comments and content that support the brand reputation you want, and that set you up as a subject-matter expert for your position and career. Your goal is to have enough positive things about you online that the negatives are buried to the second or third page, or lower, on a search engine. The negative stuff might still be found, but hopefully there will be enough positives to minimize its impact.

Fifth, especially if you have a somewhat common name, create a card with your social media links that you can hand to potential employers, so that you are not mistaken for the similarly-named person who spends more time at Spring Break than in school. This assumes, of course, that you cleaned up your social media sites!

I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Networking fundamentals: the Introduction

When you meet people – at either an informal one-on-one meeting or a formal group event – you need a way to introduce yourself.

Name badges

Cheesy? Not if you are promoting your brand!

Cheesy? Not if you are promoting your brand!

If this is a formal event, you likely had to check in at a registration table. Often, they will have blank (or pre-printed) name badges.

Wear one.

If the badge is pre-printed, then it is what it is.

If the badge is blank, you have the opportunity to use it to support your brand.

Use a Sharpie pen. Standard ink pens tend to write too narrowly to be easily seen from a distance of more than a couple of feet. You might get into the habit of bringing your own Sharpie.

Write your first and last name.

Then, you have a choice to either:

write your Company name, if you are attending a Chambe event, or are meeting with a client, or are othewise representing your company; or

write your Occupational goal (one or two words – not necessarily a Title, but what you want to do), if you are attending an Association event, or are conducting an Informational Interview for your job search.

Naturally, you can modify your name badge for different events. For example, for one event, I may be

Kevin Dumcum

Business Developer

or, for another,

Kevin Dumcum

Motivational Speaker

or,

Kevin Dumcum

Homeless Advocate

(Often, because most of my networking is for my company, I am

Kevin Dumcum

Company Name)

Any of these have sparked conversation, which is entirely the point.

Whatever you choose to include, write legibly, and write large enough to be readable.

How to wear a name badge

Wear the name badge on the right side of your chest. As you extend your right hand, your body slightly turns. The other person takes your hand, and their eye rises up your right arm to the name badge on your chest. If you had put the name badge on your left side, the other person would have to look across your body to your name badge, a slightly awkward movement, for them and for you.

The handshake:

Web to web, two humps, and LET GO!

Extend your right hand (unless you or the other person have a legitimate reason you cannot).

Grasp their right hand with the web of your hand (between the thumb and forefinger) against the web of their hand.

Close your fingers around their hand. Be firm, but not too firm.

Two pumps, say your name, and say their name.

“Kevin Dumcum. Charles? Nice to meet you.”

And please, for the love of all that is good, LET GO(!!) after two pumps.

Don’t be overly familiar, or overly wimpy, or overly creepy with your handshake.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

3 ways to search for jobs using LinkedIn

You have a solid LinkedIn.com profile. You are making Connections, and showcasing your knowledge by participating in Group discussions and posting powerful Status updates. When do you start finding employment opportunities?

Here are three primary ways to job-search using LinkedIn:

1. Use the LinkedIn Jobs Search function.

Many companies post job opportunities on LinkedIn. Click the “Jobs” link, and use LinkedIn as another job board. Search by Title, and filter based on Location, Industry, and even Company Size. Save your searches. Some postings allow you to Apply directly through LinkedIn, using your professional profile; in other cases, you may be directed to the company’s website.

screenshot of LinkedIn.com Jobs page

Click on “Jobs” and set your search parameters

TIP: Often, LinkedIn will show who posted the opening. If the posting is for a job you want, or for a company you are targeting, or if the person posts a lot of jobs you are interested in, try connecting with this person directly.

2. Join job posting Groups

Depending on your industry, you may find Groups that allow employers to post their job openings. Join the right groups and find new opportunities.

3. Use your Network

Make a list of the companies you want to join, and Follow them on LinkedIn. Keep up to date with any new information they share.

a screenshot of a LinkedIn.com Company page

Go to Interests / Companies and follow the ones you are interested in

See how you are connected to the company. Talk to ALL of your First Degree connections about the company, and ask if they will introduce you to the Hiring Decision Maker, or at least forward your resume.

Turn your Second Degree connections into First Degree connections. Ask to be introduced:

Go to the person’s profile. Read it carefully.

Click the down arrow next to the “Connect” button, and select “Get Introduced.” This shows of your shared connections. Choose one.

Write a note to YOUR connection and ask to be introduced (have your note forwarded) to your target. As always, give them a reason – what value or benefit can you add?

Be prepared to wait. Your connection, or your target, may not be as LinkedIn-savvy as you so it could take a while before either even sees your request.

Or, be bold and send your own Connection invitation directly to your target.

Or, be even bolder and take your request offline. Pick up the phone and call, and/or send an email directly.

Keep in mind that your Second Degree connections currently do not know you. Your first move is to meet them, get to know them, ask them about themselves and their role in the company, how they got their positions, what their needs are, and so on. Only then ask to be introduced to the Hiring Decision Maker.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Agree? Disagree? I am interested in your thoughts! Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter and let me know, or leave a comment below.

Four ways to use LinkedIn groups

You have a LinkedIn profile, you are adding connections, and are making professional status updates. Next, you will want to join and participate in Group discussions.

There are groups for nearly every conceivable professional (and some not so professional) interest – school alumni, work current or former associates, professional affiliations, regional professional networking groups, and so on. If you cannot find a group to join based on your professional interest (unlikely), then start one of your own.

There are multiple career management advantages of joining groups:

  1. Join groups to learn new methods and techniques to do your job better. If you are trying to figure out an answer to an issue for your client or company, check group discussions to see if our issue has been discussed. If not, then post a question and see who responds.

  2. Join groups to show your subject-matter expertise. Answer someone else’s question. Chances are, someone will agree, and someone will challenge. Go with it. Engage in a polite and professional discussion about the merits of your answer. Others are watching, and you are building your brand.

  3. Join groups to follow the discussions of someone you respect, or of someone for whom you might want to work. What is important to them? How do they talk about it? What do they reference?

  4. Join groups to gain access to group members. DO NOT SEND SPAM!! However, if you have been trying to get a phone number or email address for someone at a particular company, find out what groups they belong to. Join those groups. Now, you are allowed via LinkedIn to send them a message. But before you do, see what they are talking about in the group (point 2), and if you have time, begin to set yourself up as a subject matter expert (point 2), to increase your chances that they will respond when you do reach out.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

 

Thoughts? Comments? Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

4 strategies to grow your LinkedIn network

As you build your LinkedIn network, you add those who you believe can connect you to Someone Really Important for your career. Believe it or not, you are the Someone Really Important to someone else, with whom others will want to connect.

There are generally four strategies for how LinkedIn users manage their connection requests. You do not need to be a strict adherent to any one of these strategies, but you should put some thought into how you want to grow your network.

Strategy 1: Connect with low-active users you know. These users tend to have the barest minimum of a profile and only a handful of connections. If you know the person well, perhaps you pay it forward, connect with them, and help them improve their profile.

Strategy 2: Follow the rules. LinkedIn encourages users to connect with only those you know in real life, who know you well enough to Recommend or Endorse you. This is a sensible way to begin growing your network. Eventually, though, you will get a request to connect with someone you don’t know (because you are their Someone Really Important!). Whether you accept that request or not will depend on your willingness to adopt another strategy.

Strategy 3: Become a LinkedIn Open Networker (LION), accepting any and every request in an attempt to grow your network as large as possible. LIONs believe that by increasing their first-degree connections, they greatly increase the likelihood that a second-degree connection is the Someone Really Important that they want to meet. The challenge is, because the real-world relationship with many of the first-degree connections is low or non-existent, getting to the second-degree connection they want is still essentially a cold-call. You may decide this is a good strategy for yourself. Still, I suggest that you start out more conservatively until you can see how your network works for you.

Strategy 4: Selectively increase your network. Perhaps you accept a request from someone you don’t know (yet) because they are doing what you want to do, or because they work for a company in which you are interested, or because they simply wrote a compelling connection request. Or you may decide to ignore the request. Whether you decide to accept or ignore the request is up to you. But if you decide No, then simply ignore the request. Do not send a note explaining why. Chances are they simply did not have a good strategy for requesting a connection – which you will, after you read my next post.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Five basics for a solid LinkedIn profile

As I discussed before, LinkedIn is a Career Management Tool. Like any tool, LinkedIn must be used correctly in order to maximize its effectiveness. With LinkedIn, it starts with creating a compelling profile.

1. Your name and title

Your name is your name.

The default title is your current job title, which may not be very descriptive. TIP: Instead of using the job title, include two or three brief achievements.

2. Photo

Yes, you need one.

Technically, you could skip this, but profiles without photos are viewed as incomplete, suggests that you are trying to hide something, or don’t know how to upload a photo.

Include a headshot, you alone, against a neutral backdrop, relatively recent.

Examples from my own LinkedIn profile

Examples from my own LinkedIn profile

3. Vanity URL

The LinkedIn default is a seemingly random string of letters and numbers. Edit the URL to some version of your name so that someone could easily find your profile.

4. Summary

This is where you describe yourself. What do you want to be known for? Speak in first-person, and use personal pronouns (I, me, my).

Emphasize achievements. It’s not bragging if you can back it up.

Include lots of keywords so you are more likely to appear in LinkedIn and Google searches. You can write in paragraphs, bullets, or keyword summaries, or use any (or all) in combination.

5. Experience

Include summaries and achievements from all of your previous employments. Again, write in first-person, use personal pronouns, and emphasize achievements.

Include all of your employment experiences, going as far back as you can remember, even if they are not in your current or desired field. You may choose to not include as many details in your summaries, but by including every company, you have the ability to search for anyone you used to work with.

To be considered a “complete” profile, LinkedIn requires that you include at least two work experiences. If you do not have two employment experiences, then consider including any volunteer or pro bono work.

"All Star" Status indicates a complete profile

“All Star” Status indicates a complete profile

 

In my next post, I will talk about some of the other profile features that can set you apart as an expert in your field.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

 

Why use LinkedIn?

At various times, LinkedIn.com has been referred to as something you use only when you job-search, or as an online resume, or as a professional Facebook. All these descriptions undersell LinkedIn’s true purpose.

Why these descriptions fall short:

  1. To be true, if you are searching for a new job, LinkedIn can be extremely valuable. But more so, even if you never change employers, LinkedIn can help you do your job better and advance within your current company.

  2. A resume is a story as to why you are uniquely qualified for a particular position – what you are good at. LinkedIn allows you to create a professional profile – what you want to be known for.

  3. Facebook encourages you to connect with friends, family, and – increasingly – the brands and companies with which you interact. LinkedIn encourages you to connect with anyone who can help you advance your career.

A better description:

LinkedIn, more correctly, should be thought of as a career management tool.

With LinkedIn, you can:

  • Create and control your professional profile – what you want to be known for. This may include all or part of your work history, education, volunteer or pro bono experience, or hobbies. You will have to back up your claims with demonstrated achievements, but if you want to redirect or outright change careers, LinkedIn allows you to claim it. (PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT saying you can alter or make up a professional history that is not your own. I AM saying you can choose what, if anything, from your professional experience you want to highlight.)

  • Connect and interact with present and past colleagues, managers, subordinates, suppliers, and customers. And, to connect with anyone who can help you, even if you don’t know them personally. (In turn, those who think you can help them may connect with you.)

  • Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise through sharing your awards or publications, and by participating in Group discussions.

  • Give and receive written Recommendations and Endorsements.

  • Research companies and organizations you might want to join, or with whom to do business.

I hasten to add, LinkedIn is a tool. It is not the end result. You still must do your job well if you are employed, or network and get in front of employers if you are not. You can, of course, have a long and successful career without using LinkedIn. However, as a tool, I have not found one better.

I will use the next several posts to discuss how you can maximize your LinkedIn potential. If you have any questions about LinkedIn, or success stories, please share them in the comments.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.