For anyone embarking on a job search related to career change and developing what is now called a “personal brand” for the first time, I outline the steps and options involved using social networking. As I do so, I am always aware of two things. Faces turning ashen with panic and then groaning, as clients, whether individually or in groups, mentally try to calculate how much time this process is going to take out of their already busy day. There is a reason it’s called net “working” (not net “vacationing”). It is indeed a lot of work, it does take time and much of it is doing stuff people have never heard of before (and wouldn’t choose to do if they had!) .
Today, job search is personal, flexible and strategic. Sadly there is no template or blue print which can be reproduced, although guidelines can be given. What works for one individual, will not work or sound authentic for another. The whole point of it is also to be unique and stand out, not to be a clone of your neighbour. The learning process is intuitive, as we move away from the old style rigid approach. This does indeed makes life far harder for any job seeker today and it is time-consuming. However, authenticity is key, which is why we have to run, stroll or even crawl, the hard yards for ourselves.
As recessionary thinking starts to hit us again after a very brief interlude of optimism, the job market looks set to shrink. Economic downturns touch even the brightest and the best. It’s imperative that developing a personal brand and raising visibility becomes a daily part of all job seekers’ routines – before there is a crisis. Social networking is a great way to supplement and enhance actual networking, although ( and I stress) not a substitute for it.
Select a primary platform – for most people this should be a professional network (e.g. LinkedIn, Viadeo, Xing) to showcase career success stories and background. The largest English language one is LinkedIn for and anyone seeking a career in an international arena, I would always advise a profile placed on this platform. As a minimum I would suggest the following activity:
- Send out 1 update daily to develop your reputation. If you have a blog so much the better, otherwise any nugget of information that could be interesting taken from the press or other media related to your new function/sector. Twitter is a good source.
- Post 1 comment in a LinkedIn group related to your target career.
- Indentify and connect with 5- 10 new connections in your target sector – preferably ones you hope to meet in person.
- Research companies in your target sector.
Connect with other platforms – extend your reach via Twitter and Facebook which are becoming fast growing global job boards as the Like, Share and Tweet functions become a quick way to circulate job information. Employers are also strengthening their Employer brand on these platforms and offer increasing opportunities to inform and connect with job seekers. Trend spotters are suggesting that these 2 platforms will change the job search landscape in 2012. Although their figures are US-based, Europe is usually only a few steps behind. Get ahead of the game. Even a British spy agency is seeking code-crackers via Twitter and Facebook.
- Post content via Twitter.
- Share content from others ( RT).
- Comment on or “Like ” a blog or LinkedIn update.
- Post an update or a note on Facebook.
- Locate followers and friends that might be helpful to you.
- Pay it forward – share any new updates with your peers or other job seekers in your network.
- Partially automate when you are busy. Bufferapp hits Twitter and Facebook. I would advise not to over do it – engagement is key.
- Filter out the white noise of LinkedIn updates using LinkedIn signal
One of the advantages of Social Networking is that it’s self scheduling – so any of this can be fitted around other activities and in a piece meal fashion. It’s a question of carving out 10 minutes of time, 3 times a day which may make a difference. Yes, initially it might take longer, but as skills are honed and knowledge acquired, it can be whittled down to become rapid fire productivity. Eventually you will think in terms of the time this is saving you.