Personal Branding: Dan Schawbel

Skip Job Boards and Use Social Media Instead


If you rely on job boards or corporate Web sites for your job search, you'll find yourself unemployed for a very long time. Instead, look to your networks, both in real life and in the virtual world. A recent Jobvite survey reflects this evolution in recruitment, noting that 72% of companies plan to invest more in recruiting through social networks. By using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as your own blog, you have more outlets to communicate your personal brand and find a job faster than the competition. Here's a look at how you can best use these tools.

LinkedIn: The most obvious social network for corporate recruiting is LinkedIn, with more than 40 million professional member profiles across all industries. There are literally thousands of recruiters searching for passive talent—those who are employed and not actively seeking a new position—as well as job seekers who are leveraging the network to find available positions. Rick Mahn, a passive candidate, landed his current position as a social mediastrategist at Land O'Lakes when his LinkedIn profile came to the attention of a corporate recruiter, who reached out to him through their mutual contacts. Chad Levitt, an active job seeker and college graduate, landed his current job as a sales associate for EMC without even submitting his résumé. "I cut the virtual line and found the recruiter I needed for the job I wanted," says Levitt.

Before you attempt to use LinkedIn for a job search, be sure to construct a flawless profile that will impress recruiters. The most important section of your profile is your "professional headline." This will automatically be your last or current job unless you change it. Use this headline to position yourself for the job you want, using keywords, not the job you have. For example, instead of putting "Sr. Auditor for Ernst & Young," you could say "Internal Auditor for Fortune 100 Companies."

Also, obtain your unique LinkedIn URL, so that it appears as http://linkedin.com/in/yourfullname. To do this, go to your profile, click "edit," and then next to where it says "public profile," click "edit" again. At the top you'll want to click "edit" one more time next to "your public profile URL," and then type in your full name, without spaces, and click "set address." If that unique URL is already taken, try using a period between your first and last names or use your middle initial. Then make sure you complete your entire profile, get recommendations, join groups both locally and globally, and make sure you always keep your profile information up to date.

Blogging: What do you do when you're trying to stand out from the hundreds of millions of unemployed Chinese graduates and the thousands of Chinese-speaking foreign job seekers? You blog! Joel Backaler did just that when he started blogging on TheChinaObserver.com, and his blog was eventually linked to by The Wall Street Journal on several occasions. That visibility helped him secure his latest full-time job—within four months. The blog showcased Joel's credibility as a China specialist and was leveraged as a conversation-starter during job interviews. "My blog allowed me to demonstrate my knowledge and understanding of the Chinese marketplace, which separated me from my peers and helped me land a job," explains Backaler, who currently does Asia-Pacific business development for Frontier Strategy Group.

Recruiters can gain a better understanding of an individual based on a blog, compared to a résumé that has the same boring standard fields, such as experience and education. With one click, hiring managers can identify an applicant's voice, thoughts, and feelings, as well as how he or she may fit into an organization's culture and the specific role that needs to be filled. To be a successful blogger, passion, hard work, integrity, and the ability to take criticism are required.

Twitter: The service has proven its worth as a communication device, support center for businesses, and as a news source, but what about for jobs? For starters, you can post your résumé on Twitter using twtjobs.com, or you can search for jobs by going to twitterjobsearch.com. Billy Goodnick, a garden writer on Twitter, was followed by the Web editor of Fine Gardening magazine after he developed a loyal Twitter following. Goodnick was then invited to guest blog for the magazine and eventually received a job as a contributor. The moral of the story is that you never know who is going to discover you on social networks and what opportunities might arise just from participating.

Twitter, unlike most social networks, has a lot of restrictions, not just the 140-character limit for messages, but for your bio area, where you can have only your name, your location, a very brief bio, and a single link. This is why I encourage you to go to twitbacks.com and create a custom background, which can include more of your information to paint a stronger portrait of your personal brand. In addition, you should focus your tweets on your expertise instead of randomly tweeting about anything that comes to your mind, so you can become the go-to source for information on that topic. You should also follow people in your field, especially those employed at companies you want to work for.

Facebook: With 250 million users, Facebook is the largest social network and is home to both corporate recruiters and headhunters, who tend to use it more for background checks than for recruiting. In fact, Careerbuilder.com reports that one in five recruiters uses Facebook for candidate background checks. So you better hide those party pictures and set privacy settings before your résumé is tossed in the "don't hire" pile.

Although you may feel that you can protect certain aspects of your profile with privacy settings, be forewarned that Facebook has your data and sells it to other companies. Be sure to get your custom URL by going to facebook.com/usernames and selecting facebook.com/yourfullname if it's still available. Also, you can add your LinkedIn profile using an application and input your previous work experience and interests.

On Facebook, status updates can be a job-seeking tool. Henry Mackintosh found this out after posting a Facebook status message saying he was unemployed. he received three e-mails in two hours and eventually became a marketing manager at WorkDigital Ltd. "The genius behind the status update is that it is a way of networking old contacts without harassing them," says Mackintosh.

In your job search, social media is the great equalizer. It allows you to connect directly with hiring managers who work for companies you have genuine interest in instead of applying mindlessly through job boards. By being both proactive and reactive on social networks, you're able to be recruited based on your passion, while having access to people who can actually hire you—or at least forward your résumé. As the résumé becomes less and less relevant, you can count on the Web to exploit what you're capable of and help bring your dreams to life!
Dan_schawbel
Dan Schawbel is the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success, now in an expanded paperback edition. He is also a managing partner of Millennial Branding, a branding company that serves individuals and corporations.

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