February 12, 2009

Keeping Current During Your Search

At my last corporate job, we had someone who kept up with multiple sources of industry news and shared it with everyone in business management and marketing. You won't have that luxury in a job search, but it is good to keep current in your field. For you, these free, email-based news services will help you keep up without going crazy with trade journals.

  • SmartBrief
    Huge variety of daily news summaries for industries and functional roles.

  • FierceMarkets
    Regular news briefings for segments within telecom, life sciences, enterprise IT, healthcare and finance

  • VentureWire
    Daily newsletters about startups and investment activity. Leads on companies and people.
I'm a big fan of using RSS to manage a bigger range of sources, but these newsletters are edited. If you choose wisely, they're unlikely to monopolize your day.

April 17, 2008

Job-Search Due Diligence

One of my earliest posts was a list of things to do before the job interview. Since then, participation in online networks and media has grown tremendously, so there's more than ever to learn from people's online histories. New services like Twitter encourage a sort of stream-of-consciousness public life, which can lead to embarrassing or problematic public statements.

Willy Franzen suggests places to check for insights into employers and interviewers, including the new sources where people tend to be less careful. I disagree that the pre-interview research is about "digging dirt," though. Finding public information about people before doing business with them is just being smart, and interviewing with a company is entirely about doing business with them.

Net-savvy jobseekers will take steps to protect themselves and take advantage of the information available online:

  1. Check your own digital footprints and clean up your online image now—don't wait for the interview. Assume that potential employers (and others you encounter in life) will look you up, and consider whether your online reputation is the one you want.

  2. Before the interview, do your homework on the employer. Start with the basics, then explore Willy's updated list of online sources.

  3. If you haven't already, learn to use RSS to collect current information. Many of the search engines and online sources you'll use in your research now support RSS. You'll save time and collect more useful information if you know how to use it.
Paying attention to online reputations and using social media (such as blogs) to improve your reputation are hot topics these days. For a longer discussion of how it all works—for your company and yourself—check out Radically Transparent by Andy Beal and Dr. Judy Strauss.

If you're nearby, you can hear Andy talk about online reputation at Blog Carolinas on May 9 in Research Triangle Park, NC. I'll be there, too, with a business-oriented session on monitoring and measuring social media. Be sure to say hello.

What? Networking doesn't work?

Jason Alba just posted an idea that is the opposite of what you've heard: Networking doesn't work. The comments should heat up with an incendiary topic like that, but he's onto something. Networking is an indirect path to a job, and it's not as easy as we'd like to think. Even if you keep your commitment to networking, it's worth considering the alternatives and tradeoffs.

February 6, 2008

How to succeed at networking events

If you ever hear anything about how to get a job, it's networking. In job search advice circles, it's the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth, and Perpetual Motion, all in one easy step. Only, it's not so easy, and the advice to start networking before you need a job isn't much help if you need a job. So you crank up the phone, send some emails, and head out to networking events. Before you go to your next networking event, read John Wall's helpful article on being more effective at networking events. He has good thoughts about what people are doing at these events, and how they go about it. The section on how to work an event, in particular, is a must-read:
  1. Fly with a wingman; alone you have no defense
  2. Don’t be a job hunter
  3. Be a hunter
  4. Avoid being The creepy stalker
  5. Master the handoff
  6. Crack the power code
  7. Hijack the event
It's worth your time to read the whole article before your next event. Good hunting!

September 5, 2007

Check yourself at Rapleaf

While we're on the subject of online profiles and how people can find yours, take a look at Rapleaf. It's one of several interesting people-finding services you can use to learn about the people you meet, and you should assume that someone will use it to learn about you. Go ahead, look yourself up.

Rapleaf compiles basic information from a variety of sites, and it allows registered users to rate each other. But the interesting bit for today is the way it finds online profiles from social media sites you may use. So if you have a profile on sites like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, LinkedIn or many more, Rapleaf will make it easy for people to find.

If you register with Rapleaf, you can claim your email address(es) and edit the privacy settings for your profile. That way, if you don't want people to find, for example, your Amazon.com wish list, you can delete it from your profile.

Whether you're a fan of personal branding or not, online profiles do start to build an image for you online. It's worth thinking about what impression you make with your online presence.

via Stefanie Olsen

Another reason to check your Facebook

Facebook issued another reminder to think about what's in your profile today. Starting in a few weeks, Facebook profiles that are visible to "everyone" will be visible to everyone, when outside search engines are allowed to being indexing them. Jobseekers (and anyone else with a thought for their online reputations) should take advantage of this opportunity to clean up their profiles or adjust their privacy settings before what happens in Facebook appears in Google.

OK, well, your Facebook isn't going to show up entirely, but what is going to show up is your public profile—the picture preview box that doesn't reveal much. Outsiders who click on any of the links will go to a welcome screen that invites them to join Facebook, while logged-in Facebook users will be able to use the links.

What does this mean? People outside of Facebook will be able to use search engines to learn if someone is in Facebook, and Facebook profiles may become prominent in search results for people who have them. Combine the new search visibility with Facebook's membership growth beyond its original college crowd, and you can see the importance of considering what you share.

Facebook's privacy controls are actually pretty good, so you can control how much is visible to people you don't know. If you have a Facebook account, just follow the link in today's announcement to your Search Privacy settings. There, you can decide whether to allow people outside Facebook to see your public profile.

Just remember that "everyone" is a bigger crowd than it was last year.

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May 15, 2007

Target your search

OK, you've heard the conventional wisdom about networking your way to a new job. Still, those online job listings are tempting, and they do lead to the occasional interview. It helps if you go beyong the big, dumping-ground job boards and find the niche sites that target your field.

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article on specialized job sites:

Job seekers who limit their searches to traditional online hotspots may be missing out on the best career opportunities, as more employers are advertising openings on Web sites that cater to specific career fields and geographic locations. They say these so-called niche sites attract better-matching candidates than sites that list positions in a wide range of career fields and ZIP codes.

The article also offers some ideas on how to find a good job site:

  • Visit trade groups online.
  • Peruse job-board lists.
  • Use search engines.
  • Refine your search:
    • Compare special features.
    • Take a test drive.
    • Critique the quality.
    • Consult with others.
You might also find helpful sites through blogs that cover your job specialty, industry or region. Some blogs even have their own job boards. And when you do find a promising site, look for an RSS feed so you don't have to go back to the web site every day / week / whatever.

The big boards have that signal-to-noise problem, for candidates and employers. Too many irrelevant (or worse) job listings and too many applications turn the big boards into a time sink with poor results. Targeted sites might be just the fix.

May 2, 2007

Unpredictable benefits of LinkedIn

"Chance favors the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur

Scott Allen is running a group blogging project on smart ways to use LinkedIn. I'm sure a lot of folks are going to write up the intelligent, organized ways that they've used LinkedIn for their careers and businesses. I'm a fan of all that, but I'm going to tell you about how sheer randomness can play a beneficial role, too. Let's talk about serendipity.

serendipity: discovering something by accident while investigating something quite different (Wiktionary)
One of the more interesting people I've met was looking for someone else at the time. This corporate PR exec—let's call him Bob, since that's not his name—was looking for Steven Gilliatt, a New York advertising heavyweight, and he tried LinkedIn. It turns out that Mr. Gilliatt isn't in LinkedIn, but I am. A few key phrases in my profile related to Bob's current interests, so he followed the link to my blog and read a bit.

Then he sent me a LinkedIn connection request.

Now, I'm not an open networker. I like to have at least a little contact with someone before accepting a link. But considering the VP title and big-name employer, I decided to accept this one, and once we were connected, the obvious next step was to talk.

What I found was a well-informed, well-connected contact with significant areas of professional interest in common. He told me stories about companies and Wikipedia, and he's given me client-side feedback on my big research project. We've had several good conversations since then, too. Obviously, I'm glad I added Bob to my network.

Let's recap the pieces that led to this happy connection:

  1. I'm in LinkedIn. If you want to be discovered, put yourself where people are looking.

  2. My profile describes my interests and activities, so someone who happens across it will have some idea of whether they're interested in what I do. A good profile will help you appear in keyword searches, too.

  3. My LinkedIn profile links to my business blog for more insight into what I'm about professionally.

  4. My use of social media is consistent with the image I want to project. My blogs, comments, profiles and tags don't paint a confusing picture for someone who finds me by unusual methods.

  5. Although I don't generally connect to people I don't know, I considered the potential and accepted Bob's connection.
Plans are great, but chance can be your friend if you're properly prepared.

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April 9, 2007

Marketing with your online presence

Mario Sundar shares some ideas on using online visibility in your job search. 5 steps to let your dream job find you:

  1. Start networking today—Offline events
  2. Start a blog on your favorite topic—Online presence
  3. Engage with those who share your enthusiasm for the topic
  4. Find a tool to sustain both kinds of networking (online/offline)
  5. Craft your online presence around your favorite topic
The long version is worth the time. Mario recently joined LinkedIn as Community Evangelist, so we can probably expect more on practical applications of LinkedIn from him.

Networking with bloggers

If you go to a job search support group, networking event or class, you'll hear that networking is your best path to a new job. I've always been a little dubious about the numbers people throw around, but a personal connection clearly opens doors faster than an unaccompanied résumé. Have you considered the possibility of networking with bloggers? I'm seeing more examples where they're helping clients fill positions.

I've developed a specialization in an active area of marketing and technology with healthy growth and not enough people for the open jobs. As a result, I'm starting to see job postings on blogs that don't usually talk about employment issues. Sometimes it's on a blog associated with the company, but they're also showing up on unrelated blogs, like this Marketing Director position on Jeremiah Owyang's blog.

Jeremiah's post tells you two things: First, there's obviously this opening, which you could pursue. I'll assume that you know to follow the instructions explicitly. More importantly, the blog shows that he's a well-connected consultant, and he probably knows about other companies with hiring needs. If you're interested in the things he's interested in, you might want to get on his radar. But do it the right way.

Here are some general guidelines for networking with bloggers:

Don't

  • Send a résumé unless the blogger asks for it.
  • Assume bloggers are recruiters, unless they say they are.
  • Email or call out of the blue for career advice.
Do
  • Read interesting blogs in your field and from your target companies. Use a feed reader to manage the volume and avoid missing posts.
  • Read the blog before contacting a blogger. Learn what the blogger is about first.
  • Follow any contact guidelines the blogger has posted.
  • Read the blogger's profile.
  • Leave appropriate comments on the blog before you make direct contact. Demonstrate that you read the blog and are paying attention.
  • Consider starting your own blog for the connection opportunities. Bloggers like helping other bloggers.
  • Establish a connection before asking for help. Networking is based on relationships, not transactions.
  • Remember that networking is a two-way street. How can you help the blogger?
Networking with bloggers is like networking with anyone, because bloggers are—and this is hard for some—people, but blogs make two big differences. The blog gives you tons of information before you meet: about the blogger, his interests, thoughts and contacts; and the blog creates an opportunity to meet people regardless of physical location (especially if you have your own blog). A few blogs even have their own job boards, but that's a separate topic.

Oh, and if you're interested in the things I write about on The Net-Savvy Executive, I'm hearing about job openings, too. Now that I'm not looking for a job, they're starting to find me.

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