Book Review: Job Searching with Social Media (for dummies)

I’m back. The truth is that I couldn’t keep up with my blogging over the summer. I was too too busy. Okay – I said it. 

I would still be putting it off except for the fact that I made a deal with Joshua Waldman, founder of Career Enlightenment, that I would write a posting on his newly published book Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies (I have always hated the name of these books – couldn’t they just leave off the “for Dummies” part?)  

I admit it – the book is pretty good. How do I measure this? Well, subjectively of course. But I also consider if I’ve learned anything new within the first ten pages. Yes, I did. I also consider whether the majority of my clients could benefit from the book. Yes, they can.

Here are some things to consider:

  • More than 80% of recruiters use LinkedIn.
  • Fifty percent of hiring managers determine whether a particular candidate’s personality might be a good fit for their company just by taking a look at the person’s social media presence.
  • Simply Hired lists not only job openings, but lists who you know on Facebook and LinkedIn from the companies you are interested in.

    Thomas L. Friedman

In the Sunday New York Times on August 13, Thomas L. Friedman wrote a column entitled  A Theory of Everything (Sort of). In it he said

…globalization and the information technology revolution have gone to a whole new level. Thanks to cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones, the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected.

This is the single most important trend in the world today.

If you don’t believe this, you are in trouble. Big trouble. Unless, of course, you are independently wealthy and don’t give a dam about what’s going on in the world. Of course, Thomas Friedman’s column has a knack for sounding simple yet touching on very sophisticated concepts.

But let’s get back to simple.

If you are unemployed or miserable in your current job, my humble advice is that you need to pay very close attention to social media and start learning how it impacts you as fast as you can.  Jump in. Discover the value of these tools. It’s important.

If you’re feeling a little cocky because you  ‘know how’ to use LinkedIn and are on Facebook, think again. There are ways you could (and should) be utilizing these tools that are changing as we speak. And they can be the difference between landing a job and not landing a job.

Have you used LinkedIn to search for job postings, to follow companies of interest, to research a company you are interviewing with, to request an introduction to someone who works for your target organizations, to learn how many people your target companies have hired in the past three months?

Did you know that Twitter gives you access to people you would never have access to without it?

So back to the book – Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies.

Joshua Waldman

More than likely, you will already know many of the tips in this book. I’m guessing that it’s just as likely that there are more tips that you don’t know yet.

Here is another interesting thing I learned from this book:

  • Plaxo, which has over 20 million users, is not really a social media network, but a venue for managing contact information.

Two very useful chapters, among others, are Uncovering the Hidden Job Market with Twitter and Using Facebook as a Job Hunter.

Note: Parts of the Personal Branding 101 chapter has information that you’ve probably seen a thousand times before (defining your life’s values, what are you most proud of, your 75th birthday toast, identifying your passions and interests) but it never hurts to review those things. Skip over them if you are bored.

Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies costs around $13.00 on amazon.com.

Is it worth this small investment?     Absolutely.

 

 

Terry Del Percio – visit my website at www.workstrategies.com
978.282.8900


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You Never Know Who’s Listening

This is a guest blog and has been published with permission. The piece is written in the voice of Ed Muzio, Author of Make Work Great: Supercharge Your Team, Reinvent the Culture, and Gain Influence – One Person at a Time

Recently my desk phone rang, and the caller ID showed the name of a large, well known organization.  I answered with my name, as usual.  But judging from the reply I received, I might as well have been a prank caller at three in the morning.

“Who is this?!”  The caller’s voice was incredulous, and more than a little annoyed with me.  When I replied again with my name and company, I heard only an annoyed sigh, a click, and silence.

 In the moment, I found the whole interaction more amusing than anything else.  It was only on further reflection that I realized the potential peril in which the caller had placed herself:  As it turns out, I have some relatively influential contacts in that organization, and thanks to Caller ID, her direct number.

I have no intention of taking any action, but the whole situation reminded me something I’d seen on Facebook recently:  a status update from a friend that said, simply, “you never know who’s listening.”

I think one of the reasons that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are so enjoyable is that they give us insight into what our friends and colleagues are thinking and doing.  Whether someone is recounting a vacation, a conference, or even just a mundane grocery run, status updates provide a little bit of insight into someone’s life that we wouldn’t otherwise have.  Perhaps this makes us feel more connected.  Whatever the reason, we obviously like the feeling, because so many of us keep returning to the sites.

But there is a down side to giving such a wide audience visibility into your thoughts and actions:  the potential impact to your reputation.

Reputation is not a new idea.  We’ve known for decades, for example, that if you become known around your office as someone who doesn’t follow through on commitments, your chances of career advancement decline considerably.

As children, we all were taught various forms of the maxim that actions speak louder than words; as adults, we have all seen what can happen when that maxim isn’t followed at work:  diminished trust, diminished output, and diminished morale.  Nobody wants to work with someone who acts unpredictably, erratically, or inappropriately.

The problem with social networking sites, from the standpoint of reputation, is that they give people visibility into parts of your life that they wouldn’t otherwise have:  they connect otherwise detached social networks.  Think about it:  would you want your boss eavesdropping on a conversation with your significant other about your workday?

And yet, many people seem to think nothing of posting a status message that is intended for only one of their networks, in full view of all the others.  Who really remembers everyone on their “friends” list anyway?  Worse yet, the information provided by such status updates is usually vague and open to broad interpretation.  The fact that it is text-only just compounds the problem.  (If you’re unsure what I mean by this, take a few moments to watch “Why Email Starts Fights” [ www.groupharmonics.com/helpdesk/email.htm] and you will.)  So, the chances for misunderstanding and misinterpretation multiply, even for an innocent posting.

In other words, be careful what you say.  As in the case of my aggravated caller, you never know who’s listening.

When it comes to social networking, I don’t think anyone has a perfect solution to this problem.  Some people closely control who gets to be on their lists, or simply decline to post updates.  These are certainly valid approaches; exercising discretion in terms of list membership and status content is surely wise.  And yet, too much restriction here will defeat much of the benefit of social networking.

At the other extreme are those who simply don’t give any of this a second thought, and post whatever occurs to them.  There is merit here too, I suppose, but personally I would be worried about the long term implications of this strategy.  And my worry is not without supporting data; there have been at least a few well-publicized instances of social networking faux pas that came back to haunt their owners, in tangible and even economically measurable ways.

My suggestion is this:  your brain is better with clusters than with individual list items.  So, don’t try to remember everyone who is on your friends list.  Instead, come up with around five categories of people who appear there, and then personify those categories with individuals you know.

Before you post a status update, think about those five individuals, and mentally check whether you would be ok with each of them reading it.  If it’s OK for that sample population, it’s probably fairly safe for your wider audience. 

Personally, my five are my mother, my nephew, my client, my close friend, and my spiritual advisor.  And I will admit that on more than one occasion, this seemingly innocent list of people has stopped a status update in its tracks.  “On second thought,” I muse, “I’ll just keep that one to myself.”

© 2010 Ed Muzio, author of Make Work Great: Supercharge Your Team, Reinvent the Culture, and Gain Influence — One Person at a Time

Author Bio: Edward G. Muzio, CEO of Group Harmonics, is the author of the award winning books Make Work Great: Supercharge Your Team, Reinvent the Culture, and Gain Influence One Person at a Time and Four Secrets to Liking Your Work: You May Not Need to Quit to Get the Job You Want. An expert in workplace improvement and its relationship to individual enjoyment, Muzio has been featured on Fox Business Network, CBS, and other national media, and he has been cited in many publications including the New York Post, the Austin American Statesman, and Spirit magazine. He lives in Albuquerque, NM.

For more information visit www.makeworkgreat.com and follow the author on Facebook.

Reluctant Harry: Networking Redefined – Part Three.

True story. (adapted for confidentiality)

One of my clients, Harry, is aspiring to be an academic editor for the latter part of his   successful career. He wants to start by getting his feet wet through freelance writing while he still holds his position as IT Director, and noticed a job posting for a temporary project editor at a book company specializing in textbooks.

Now, just for your information, Harry tends to undervalue his writing talent and underestimate the power of networking.

Harry is in sort of a rut. He has done a darn good job of convincing himself that editing cannot be a part of his future. At least not getting paid for it.

‘It’s too late’ is Harry’s favorite phrase.

Upon seeing the job posting, Harry’s inner critic immediately started mumbling

You’ll never get this job – they probably want editors who are experienced or at least have academic backgrounds.

So Harry didn’t take any action.

After talking about how unproductive it was to dismiss a potential opportunity just because of the negative chatter in his brain, I convinced Harry to apply.  He did.

Did he hear anything back in the ten days? No. The black hole of Internet applications is alive and well.

I suggested he look on LinkedIn to see if he found anyone who previously worked at the company or who works there now.  He reluctantly agreed to look, saying ‘I doubt if I’m connected to anyone in that world – it’s probably a waste of time’.

Lo and behold, there were dozens of people listed and even a few that were only 2 degrees of separation in his network.  I thought I might have seen a glimmer of hope in Harry’s eyes (not sure).

Harry immediately wanted to send a message to one of the HR people at the company, asking for the job. I suggested that he try taking a more subtle approach.

There was a person (Mike) listed that currently works in the department that he had applied to.  All Harry needed to do was ask one person (Sally) in his network if she would be willing to connect him to Mike.

Harry didn’t think that this would work, but agreed to give it a try. He clicked on the  “Request an Introduction” link and wrote his notes to both Mike and Sally. His note was friendly and professional, yet had the tone of a cover letter asking for the job.

“How about just asking to have a conversation so you could learn more about the company”? Good idea.

Harry heard back from Mike within 48 hours, and they scheduled a time to talk by phone. Mike thought Harry was very articulate and they discovered they both had a love for sailing. Harry learned a bit about the company as well as the name of the hiring director. (Mike was very generous in sharing this).

Harry contacted the hiring director, met with her the following week, and is now working on his very first part-time editing project. And yes, he is getting paid for it.

Harry is reluctant no more.

Go Harry.

ShoutEm

I found this great  information about Twitter today:

  1. Ask questions to your readers. What do they think about the topics you are covering, covered or plan to cover? Thoughts? Opinions?Since microblogging networks put a limit on how many characters you can write people have to get to the point. Keeping it simple means all the feedback you get is meaningful.
  2. Answer questions. Ok, so answering all your e-mail is going to lead to e-mail bancruptcy pretty quickly. By having a Twitter account or maybe even your own dedicated network you can crowdsource your community questions. You may not know the answer, but I’m one of your followers does. Or one of his followers. Microblogging lets information circulate quickly, giving people the i nformation they need – when they need it.
  3. Share the passion and linkup. What makes a real community are shared interests and passions. Your readers may love reading your articles, but why stop there. Link up other articles on the topic you cover. Give your readers a chance to explore videos, PDFs. By doing so, you strengthen your relationship with them. There on the inside, and you’re one of the guys sharing the good stuff.
  4. Follow the trends and create hashtags. Trend such as #FollowFriday have become rituals in their own right. By participating in them you can gain exposure since a lot of users monitor certain hashtags. Also, you can create your own meme. Love movies? Start #ThrillerThursday and encourage people to recommend interesting thrillers.
  5. Monitor the Twittersphere. With the help of Twitter search, you can monitor Twitter for terms relating to your topic. Say you write about stocks. Monitoring the term “stocks” lets you engage people who are interested in your topic. They have a question? Well – go on – help them!Your Community + Microblogging
  6. Be accessible yet private. With a blog, you become a public figure. Yes, your blog gives you a celebrity-like status to your readers. You the blogger. With time, people want to know more about you, but forums and e-mail make it hard. Microblogging on the other hand gives your community a backchannel into your life. So we discovered that Jason Calacanis loves his dogs and Kevin Rose drinks a lot of tea. The same applies to your own followers. They do want to know those little interesting quirks that sum you up as a person. Through Twitter you can share the little moments you want to share, while still keeping your privacy.
  7. Host contests and offer goodies. Namecheap runs “Fun Facts” Twitter contests. Every hour on the hour Namecheap asks a question and if you answer it correctly you get a $10 credit to your Namecheap account. Two of the players who answer the most questions in the period of two weeks get a Dell Inspiron Netbooks. Basically, they are teaching their community to pay attention. Their tweets don’t go unnoticed. Hosting a contest in terms of getting a response from the community is not hard since there’s basically no entry barrier.
  8. Feature your fans and retweet. Retweeting is also part of the Twitter culture. Basically, if you find something interesting on Twitter, you quote or “retweet” the message, crediting the user who posted it. With your own community you can do the same thing. When a prominent blogger features one’ tweet its like saying “This guy /gal is cool, and this tweet is even cooler”. Social proof you need to use.
  9. Offer them the world. By letting people engage you through Twitter or your own microblogging network you’re introducing them to a whole new level of social networking. By teaching things like how to retweet, use various tools and so on you’re impowering the community. People like to learn stuff and they respect people who show them things. I know I still respect the guy who taught me what RSS feeds were, and yes – I follow him on Twitter.
  10. Let them speak. Giving your community a chance to speak is at the essence of each and every of the things we went through in this article. In that spirit, what would you do to build your blog community with Twitter and microblogging?
  11. ShoutEm, Mar 2009

You should read the whole article.

Drawing the Line

Reputation is everything. We have an obligation to make responsible choices about who we put in touch with our personal contacts.

Last week I received a request from a distant acquaintance (Frank) to introduce him to one of my contacts, a very high level executive named Sara.

The only context that Frank mentioned is that he wanted to connect with Sara because he wanted to get his company’s products in front of her.

Ouch. This felt uncomfortable.

Sara is someone I know through my personal circle. I don\’t know her extremely well, but we have a couple of friends in common and have had dinner together once or twice. I have a great deal of respect for her and what she has achieved. Sara is a very powerful person in the business community.

Frank is a good person and a highly competent professional. I\’d be happy to help him. But I couldn\’t justify putting him in touch with Sara so he could give a sales pitch.

I called Frank and explained why I couldn\’t pass along his LinkedIn request. He understood.

For the most part, LinkedIn is about being open and helping people stay connected. But we need to be thoughtful about our requests and respecting peoples\’ privacy.

Sometimes we have to draw the line.

Requesting Introductions thru LinkedIn

Several people are sending me “requests for introductions” on LinkedIn, which is great. It’s an extremely useful tool for networking and sharing information.

The problem is how requests are presented.

SUGGESTION: When requesting an introduction, LinkedIn asks you to write a short note both to the person you are trying to connect with, and the contact in between.

Be very thoughtful about these messages.

For example, yesterday a woman (Joan) requested an introduction from me to ‘Mark’ . I would be happy to send it along, except for the message she wrote to Mark.

In her message, Joan said, “Hi Mark, I’m sending you my cover letter and resume for the Director job at Hospital, Inc.. Thanks for your help”

What’s wrong with this message? How do you think Mark will react? What do you think he’ll do with Joan’s resume and cover letter?

Do any of you have suggestions for Joan in regards to using LinkedIn’s requests for introductions more effectively?

Job Search Blues – Networking

Barbara told me that she has exhausted her network. She said “I’ve contacted everyone I know, and I’ve had many informational meetings. It’s not working. Nothing is happening. I haven’t gotten any interviews from my networking.” Barbara was convinced that she no longer could use networking as a key element in her job search.

I suggested we write a list of every networking or informational meeting she had in the past 2 months. Barbara came up with five specific situations where she actually met with someone and three phone conversations.

In Barbara’s mind, she had a lot of meetings. In my mind, she had only scratched the surface.

It takes a lot of time,energy and planning to really network. It often feels like we have been networking our butts off, when in reality there are many more connections to be made.

If you are feeling like you have exhausted your network, get specific. Who have you actually met with? What did you talk about? Do you have a spreadsheet to keep track of all meetings and conversations? Have you followed up with everyone? Have you attempted to try to help your contacts?

Networking is not really an activity that you can ‘cross of your list’ – it’s ongoing and it becomes more effective the longer you do it.

Survival in the business world today depends upon keeping your network alive, giving back and staying connected. Whether you are in the job market or not, if you are not networking, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.