I took a class in Social Media for Nonprofits and learned more about this relatively new addition to our communication landscape. I picked up great tips for helping my nonprofits, but along the way I also learned some things that I will pass on to you for yourself, or perhaps more importantly to you; your job seeking children.
You see, social media is replacing many things that we grew up with and took for granted. You can picture Facebook replacing directories and school yearbooks…Twitter replacing phone calls…and LinkedIn and personal blogs replacing resumes in job searches.
That last one is very important.
I became aware of the importance of Linked In and personal blogs earlier this year, as my husband sought new employment after a lay off from his job of 13 years. He is tech savvy and reached out to experts in the field and to his personal network, which he methodically updated and renewed. As he put it so well, he had “become internally focused after being with a remote corporate office company for so long.” He realized that he had to reactivate his persona as an authority in his area and make sure that people who could help knew that he was looking.
He updated and kept adding to his blog, High Integrity Support.
He also assessed his connections on LinkedIn, asked for introductions to people in his field or that he felt would be a source of information and expertise about Austin’s high-tech employment market.
He was careful to ask for the expertise and advice of these busy people, rather than a job.
Trust me, if you invest the time and attention to people in this manner, you will foster a relationship that may be very beneficial to you. If you come in just asking for a job, or a referral to a job, you may nip that blossoming relationship in the bud. I recently heard a speaker describe active listening and asking the right (and often unusual) questions as “The Ripple Effect.” You can read more about Steve Harper and his rippling techniques in his blog.
Back to LinkedIn. My instructor stated that LinkedIn is fast becoming the social media network for your professional persona. It is a virtual business card, resume and more. Employers are looking at LinkedIn profiles more and more and I received the following tips that I will share with you.
- This is your professional persona, so prepare it that way. Take your time, fill out your information and job history carefully and do not leave employment gaps. It is the same red flag there as it is in your hard-copy resume.
- Invest time and perhaps money in a decent head shot that is actually posed to look professional. If you can’t afford a head shot, have a friend take a well-lit picture of you with a neutral background and crop accordingly. Don’t make the mistake of posting you at your favorite hobby or sport, at a party, or any of the other errors I have seen. People are going to recognize you by your picture, so be sure your face is actually visible!
- Tempted to use cute names, initials only, or mix up capitalization of your name? Don’t. It does not make the impression you think it does, unless you are totally uninterested in employment or you are a graphic designer or artist. They are about the only ones that can get away with it. Take yourself seriously, and other will take you seriously, too.
- Don’t embellish or misrepresent your skills or experience. LinkedIn is visible to everyone, and it is a great way to lose your credibility.
- Tempted to get cute with your title? See 3. above, and the same advice applies. This is business, not Facebook, so save the cute for your personal persona and not your business profile.
- Don’t use the canned invitation to connect. It is considered somewhat rude, and I must admit I didn’t know any better at first, but I do now. Take a moment to personalize the invitation by reminding them where they know you from (context is everything!), and frame the invitation as a question. “Would you like to connect on LinkedIn?” “Adding them to your professional network” comes across cold and presumptive compared to an invitation and you will garner many more valuable connections this way. Note: LinkedIn has changed and the message interface that is offered to you when you look at the potential list of connections that they offer is NOT the one you want to use. Instead, click on their actual individual profile and send your invitation to connect from there. The editable box will pop up and give you a chance to personalize your invitation. It is well worth the extra two seconds!
- Give recommendations and endorsements to others with no expectation of getting one in return. Check your spelling, grammar, and be sure it is something true and valuable that you are saying about the person. I did not know this protocol at first, and just asked for recommendations. I can only hope I didn’t offend anyone out of ignorance, but in retrospect, that courtesy element should have occurred to me.
I hope I have made you think about this resource a little differently, and that you will share your knowledge with your soon to be adult children who are entering the most competitive job market in decades.
Social media can help, or it can hurt…so be informed. Happy job hunting!