Experts say linking in online helps land a jobPATRICK MAY • MCT NEWS SERVICE • MAY 26, 2009 • FROM LANSING STATE JOURNAL
It might sound like schoolyard horseplay, but many career counselors say a successful job hunt requires you get yourself on top of the pile.
Actually, it’s your resume that needs to be there, lifted above the rest thanks to someone who knew someone.
But for the thousands of job seekers out there, all of them screaming to be heard above the recessionary din, getting noticed is a challenge.
Free online tools
In interviews with job-market experts, pink-slip veterans from the 2001 dot-com bust and current job-hunters, the same truisms kept bubbling up: Job hunting is all about marketing yourself.
There are tons of new – and free – online tools. But maintaining a vibrant social network may be the quickest path back to a salary.
“Part of the problem with using Monster.com or Hotjobs is that that’s what everybody else is doing, too,” said Krista Canfield, spokeswoman for LinkedIn, a social-networking site favored by professionals. “There may be hundreds and hundreds of other people applying for the same position you are. But if you know someone, a personal referral is like a golden ticket that can put your resume on top.”
If you do cast your fate with the online job boards, said career adviser Connie Brock with the Nova one-stop job center in Sunnyvale, “you’d better be the exact fit, because someone on the other end of the line has thousands of resumes they’re poring over, and you won’t pop up unless you’re a superstar.”
‘The right word’
And with more sophisticated human and digital resume-processing going on, Brock said, “if all the right words aren’t there in your resume, you’ll be screened out before you even know it.”
Fortunately, those same technological advances also make building out a social network easier than ever.
“Things have changed so much in the valley since the last recession,” said Ross Mayfield, co-founder of Palo Alto social-software firm Socialtext. “Now there are hundreds of ways to project your identity and engage with others for free that didn’t exist six years ago.”
It’s a snap, he said: “It takes 30 seconds to create a Twitter account,” the micro-blogging device that lets you use short bursts of text to have people, like the hiring manager at the firm you’re angling for, “follow” you through cyberspace. Mayfield adds that “it takes 30 minutes to create a blog, and it takes maybe three hours to create a full profile on LinkedIn.”
By projecting yourself online – then having your personal connections spread virally and even exponentially among friends, former colleagues, and professional associates – valuable job leads could sprout. Canfield said at least on LinkedIn, “25 contacts is the magic number, where we start to see things happen. Let everyone know you need help, and they become your eyes and ears on the street.”
Cat Graham, a senior vice president of human resources and recruiting for New York PR firm Ruder Finn, said “social networking makes up 80 percent of my recruiting work worldwide.” She suggests job-hunters “think about which company they want to work for, then look them up online.”
“Say it’s Wal-Mart. You’ll often find you can follow the HR people on Twitter and that could lead to something. And on LinkedIn it’s easy to find HR directors and managers and connect with them there.”
Mayfield reminds job-seekers that hiring managers nowadays will Google them first, so you should know up front if your name has been taken in vain – or worse – in cyberspace.
Joanna Strober, managing director of a private investment firm in Menlo Park, knows firsthand the importance of networking. “I told people I was looking for this type of job, and one day got a call from a friend who said this firm was looking for someone. I sent in my resume and referenced my friend.”
Strober nailed it. In fact, she said, “every job I’ve gotten has been done that way, never through a head hunter or a blind application.”
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