The job market has been hit hard all over the world for the past few years and over those years, there has been article after article on how to look for employment, what you should include and leave off your résumé, how to get an interview, what to say on an interview and how to negotiate a salary aside from falling to your knees and pleading for anything they are willing to give you. So, how’s that working for you?
Just for résumés, the amount of information is bewildering. Don’t age yourself with certain information is a big warning but when you have built up an impressive and steady climb of experience in your career, how do you shave off ten years and have your résumé start with you being a manager? If you list your college degree and year of graduation, then what about those years between leaving school and your first job? It seems the business world has decided young and cheap trumps experienced and maturity. So why aren’t businesses raking in profits and the economy bursting through the ceiling? Because the natural order of life, as well as business has been disturbed. The young are mentored by the older and all move up and on. The young replace the older when the time comes and the cycle continues. Now, it seems the younger worker is forced to perform quicker, with more success and for less money than their predecessors. It doesn’t work in nature and it doesn’t work in business. The problem is; when will businesses decide it hasn’t worked and start hiring experienced workers to guide others into productivity and mature decisions? It could be another decade at least before it becomes commonplace — too late for many who approach retirement years (at least the age of 55, which seems to be the retirement package years for most American workers).
It’s not just money anymore, however. There are businesses that realize youth does not have a corner of business savvy. There is, however, the belief that younger workers are more in tune with the digital technology (tell that to 56 year-old Steve Jobs or the 45+ year-old demographics of Facebook). So, the more mature worker needs to show a knowledge of digital technology that serves business needs.
It’s a well-known fact that when you are being considered for a position, the employer will first Google you to see what they can find out about your digital life. Many articles on employment searches will warn job seekers about cleaning up their digital tell-all evidence. Aside from cleaning up those R-rated photos that you posted and are tagged in, doing what you can to make sure you rate high in Google searches and have impressive credentials, you need to load the web with SEO of your accomplishments. One of the best ways to climb to the top of a Google search while impressing potential employers is to have a web site/blog of your own. It’s actually very easy!
The first step in creating your digital footprint:
- Do you have a visual cv? It’s free and shows up on Google search. It allows you to have a digital résumé AND show samples of your work, special projects, awards, etc. It can be downloaded as a PDF, emailed and shared at will.
- If you have a Facebook page that contains anything you wouldn’t show your mother or young daughter, at least reset your privacy setting to “friends only.” Even with that setting, your cover photo and profile photo will show up on a search of your name, as will the “about” information. Keep it clean!
- Do you have any special knowledge or skills you can share with others in your industry? Simple writing skills are enough to post helpful tips and information on LinkedIn groups and industry blogs. Search for online industry blogs and usually at the bottom of the home page there will be a link for contributing to that blog. The more articles you write, the higher your SEO and that’s something employers want to see in a prospective employee.
- LinkedIn is also one of the sites employers search to find out more about you. Keep making connections while looking for work. Aside from these contacts being able to help you network to the people who make hiring decisions, people do judge your business savvy by the numbers you have on LinkedIn. Seek out recommendations from former co-workers, get endorsements for your skills (if you recommend and endorse others, they, in turn will do the same for you). Once you have 501 connections on LinkedIn (which isn’t hard to do), it will read publicly as “500+” and endorsements read “99+” once 100 is reached.
- LinkedIn allows you to join a maximum of 50 groups, so join 50 groups that deal with your industry. It will impress prospective employers and the connections are easier when you share a group (LinkedIn requires you know a person’s email address if you don’t know them personally. If you belong to the same group, you get a free pass to connect).
The second step in creating your digital footprint:
- Imagine sending a prospective employer a link to your own web site. It could be an extension of the functions of the previously mentioned visual cv, a WordPress theme for ease of editing, examples of past successes you’ve worked on with lessons on what made them successful. Aside from the SEO that will put the site AND your entries on the first page of a Google search, the content will impress a prospective employer for your digital knowledge, social media outreach ability and following by other professionals, not to mention the real examples of your abilities for a specific position in your field.
- Creating a site may be alien to you, so use a good hosting site to help you along. Better hosting sites will have a 24/7 help desk to guide you through the process. Also, many companies will do site design for you for a fee. Check out some reviews of the best web site hosting companies and talk to them before you book your server space. They can also help you register a domain name. Your domain (URL) is important and should be professional and easy to remember.
- Even having a site that just reprints other people’s articles can set you up as a knowledgeable professional. Just be sure the material you use is available to other sites through an RSS feed and you link back with proper attribution.
- An important way to build followers as well as show you have digital and social media savvy is to create a Twitter account. Twitter is one of the most powerful ways to build a following and one of the most misunderstood social media channels around. The big mistake with Twitter, as with any social media, is you need to talk TO people and not AT them. Posting of new entries and articles you’ve written is to not only announce them to your followers, hashtag them to reach beyond your followers (#engineering, for example), follow new followers back (but watch out for spammers or followers that have nothing to do with your industry or points of interest — don’t give in to follow number collectors. Think QUALITY and not Quantity!) and reply to tweets and retweets people do of your material and thank them! A reply of “@industryleader Thanks for retreating my article, ‘The Best of __________.’ bit.ly 32hg6” makes a friend AND promotes your content again without tweeting too much about it.
The third step in creating your digital footprint:
- When you are out on the web, you have to keep an eye on your feedback. There will be people “trolling” just to say something negative about your content. You can, if able, delete those comments but, they also present an opportunity to show how you handle tricky situations. How would you handle a dissatisfied customer for your employer? The test may very well be how you address the negative comments, no matter how ridiculous and inane.
- How you grow your following is also a test of your digital abilities. If your follower list is one of quality, a prospective employer will be impressed by that ability to find quality and not just bolster numbers.
- Keep it up! There’s nothing worse than a blog or site that doesn’t get updated regularly. They say finding a job is a full-time job in itself and keeping up your social presence is part of that job. Each and every post, every article that goes live, every post on LinkedIn and connection you make is just as important as submitting your résumé to qualified employers.
It can get… redundant, and it’s okay to take a day or two for yourself. Keep nights and weekends free as you would with any job but work at your digital footprint. This is what I did when I was laid off from my corporate position. Weeks turned into months, months into years and before I knew it, I realized I was making a living as a writer for web sites around the globe. I stopped looking for employment elsewhere as I had already found a job. Funny how that happened.
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