Category Archives: Social Media

Is Facebook a good way to judge job applicants?

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Companies often resort to scanning a job applicant’s Facebook profile for evidence of drug or alcohol use, sometimes eliminating the most qualified applicants based on erroneous assumptions that these applicants are not responsible or ‘conscientious.’

Researchers at N.C. State University sought to test the validity of these employers’ snap judgments when using Facebook to screen job applicants, publishing their results in a paper titled, “Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants’ Social Media Postings.”

After testing 175 participants, researchers found that there is no significant correlation between conscientiousness and an individual’s willingness to publish content on Facebook pertaining to alcohol or drug use.

“This study takes a different twist,” said Dr. Lori Foster Thompson, the paper’s co-author. “This study is saying employers need to beware because by engaging in these practices and weeding out people, they might not know exactly who they’re weeding out.”

The researchers said extraversion and agreeableness were often the easiest traits to identify on Facebook.

“We found that people who were posting less about bad mouthing or made fewer references, employers and coworkers were found to be more agreeable,” said Will Stoughton, a Ph.D. student at N.C. State and lead author of the paper.

The research did not identify what employers thought of job applicants lacking a social-media presence altogether, though that’s arguably not doing those applicants any favors.

cross posted from the Business Journal

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LinkedIn Etiquette

LinkedIn has become an extremely powerful social tool in our professional lives. It’s that word—professional—that is the essence of LinkedIn etiquette. Earlier, we pointed out 10 essentials of Twitter etiquette, we do so now for LinkedIn users.

So whether you’re managing a brand or your own presence on LinkedIn, here are 10 etiquette rules:

1. Is it LinkedIn or Linkedin? According to the AP Stylebook’s social media guidelines, it’s LinkedIn—with a capital I. It gets confusing because the company’s logo is a lowercase “in,” but until AP tells me to change it, I’m going with LinkedIn—and I encourage you to do the same.

2. Don’t send a mass request for recommendations and endorsements. If you’re looking for people to recommend you in a public forum, make sure you’re tapping people who are familiar with your work. It helps if they like you, too. Reach out to those people individually and make the request. Rather than saying, “Can you endorse my social media skills?” leave it up to the other person. “Can you take a look at my skills when you have a chance and endorse any you think are appropriate?” is a stronger choice here. Do not give people a deadline for recommending you. I heard of this happening once, and I was appalled.

3. No personal updates, cat pictures, or “thoughts and prayers.” LinkedIn is a professional networking tool. You wouldn’t walk into an important meeting and announce the hilarious thing your kid said over the weekend. OK, maybe you might, but leave the personal stuff for Facebook. If you feel that it blurs the line between personal and professional, err on the side of caution and don’t post it. It sounds ridiculous, but people can really lose respect for you if you post things that are generally reserved for more informal social media outlets. Although we’re all saddened by the tragic events that took place in (insert location here), LinkedIn just isn’t the forum for sending your thoughts and prayers their way. Those expressions, however benevolent, should stay on Facebook or Twitter.

4. Funny’s OK; tasteless isn’t. It wouldn’t be outlandish to share an industry-specific meme or a funny post that’s work-related. But if it’s tasteless, controversial, mean-spirited, or negative in tone, stifle it. It’s not worth the risk of offending someone.

5. Personalize connection requests and other points of contact. If something pops up with an auto-fill field, personalize the copy. If it’s a former co-worker, personalize your hello. If it’s someone you met once, it would be a good move to remind them how you met and bring up an interesting topic you talked about.

6. It might be time to update that photo. Are you using the same photo you had when you joined LinkedIn four years ago? Upload a new one. While we’re talking photos, that picture of you playing guitar and singing to your parakeet is super adorable, but unless your profession involves entertainment at children’s birthday parties, opt for something more professional.

7. Be accurate with your work info. You absolutely want to present your best self in your LinkedIn profile, but not at accuracy’s expense. We’ve all turned our own version of “janitor” into “custodial engineer” here and there, but that’s semantics. Avoid a potentially embarrassing situation by nixing any blatant inaccuracies. 


8. Avoid oversharing.
 I have a LinkedIn connection who has shared five articles with me since breakfast. He’s blowing up my feed; he’s a feed-jacker. Though I applaud his effort to become a one-man Buzzfeed, he’s annoying me. If you annoy people who follow you, they might never want to do business with you. I also have a LinkedIn connection who posts one interesting article or blog post a day—my click-through rate on his posts is probably around 90 percent. Keep it relevant—and sporadic.

9. Don’t vague-bash your company or co-workers. I’ve seen people in their feed or in groups who will outline a problem they’re having under the guise of seeking advice. They’re not naming names—they’re vague-bashing. It’s not a smart thing to do for a number of reasons—for one, it looks desperate. Be as transparent as possible while keeping your posts and interactions as positive as possible.

10. Do you have to personally know every person you connect with?
 LinkedIn certainly seems to want you to know them. In plenty of instances, though, I’ve introduced myself to people through LinkedIn because I admire their work or want to use them as sources. I avoid phantom connecting—that is, my sending a connection request seemingly out of nowhere.

 

cross posted from prdaily

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How Can Social Media Get You Fired? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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February 22, 2013 · 9:04 am

How to Say ‘Look at Me!’ to an Online Recruiter

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IF you are thinking of looking for a job this year, or are already searching for one, be warned: for some job seekers, the rules have changed. Technology and social media have altered the way some employers consider candidates. Simply sifting through job postings and sending out applications en masse was never a good route to success, and is even less so now.

One of the most important questions that many job seekers can ask these days is this: How searchable am I? Some employers aren’t even bothering to post jobs, but are instead searching online for the right candidate, said Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, a career management firm in New York.

Not having an Internet presence can be damaging, Ms. Safani said. She is among those who recommend that job seekers spend serious time detailing their skills and experience on commercial sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, with an eye toward making their names a magnet for search engines.

“Having a blog can be a good way to show that you are a thought leader” while improving your professional visibility, she said. And consider YouTube as a way to enhance your searchability, she advised. If an employer comes across a video of you giving a speech or a training presentation, she said, you may gain an advantage.

More companies are turning to Twitter as a way to broadcast job openings, so you should use it to follow recruiters, industry leaders and individual companies, said Alison Doyle, a job search specialist for About.com. She said that by linking to articles and sharing your expertise on Twitter, you can enhance your professional reputation — though you should beware of the site’s potential as a time drain.

On Facebook, “liking” a company can mean receiving early notice of job openings and other news. But privacy concerns make Facebook tricky, Ms. Doyle said: Make sure you understand who is receiving which of your posts, or resolve to be thoroughly professional on Facebook at all times, she said. Be aware that hiring managers may see what you post on any of the major social media outlets, she added.

OLD-FASHIONED, personal networking can still be an effective way to land a job, but online networking now supplements it in many fields. Both Ms. Safani and Ms. Doyle say LinkedIn is a very important Web tool for making those connections.

The site offers premium services for a fee, but almost all of the main features for job seekers are free, Ms. Doyle said. Spend a few minutes on the site each day making new connections, she advised, and keep your profile up to date.

To improve the chances that a connection request will be accepted, especially from someone you don’t know, send a personal message along with it, noting, say, your similar backgrounds, said Nicole Williams, a consultant who works as a career expert for LinkedIn.

Baldly asking someone at a company for help in landing a job is never a good idea, on LinkedIn or anywhere else. Share links and advice with people in your LinkedIn network before asking for a favor like an introduction to a hiring manager or a written recommendation that would appear on the site. If you are seeking a particular position, Ms. Doyle said, you might say something like: “I’m interested in this job. Do you have any information that you can share with me?”

Joining industry groups on LinkedIn can build your visibility. You can also join college alumni organizations or other focused groups, like one for working mothers.

Make full use of the skills section of LinkedIn, Ms. Williams advised, and the more specific you are, the better. Instead of saying that you have marketing skills, note the exact areas — direct mail campaigns, for example. LinkedIn can direct you to companies that are seeking these skills so you can follow them. Listing your skills could also bring you to the notice of a recruiter.

Be aware, too, that an employer may be viewing your application via a mobile phone. Mobile traffic involving job search more than doubled in 2012 over 2011 at the employment site Indeed.com, said Rony Kahan, a co-founder and C.E.O. So make sure you know how your résumé and cover letter look on a small screen. Résumés should be in a PDF format so they can be viewed on a variety of phones.

In the age of online applications, one school of thought holds that cover letters are a waste of time, but Ms. Doyle disagrees. Cover letters are still a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition, she said — and the rise of applications via cellphone just means they should be more concise, and specific to the job at hand.

Cross posted from the NY Times

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How to Clean Up Your Online Presence and Make a Great First Impression

Odds are someone is searching the web for you right now, or at least has looked you up fairly recently. Do you know what they learned? Better yet, do you control the pages and profiles they visited? If not, it’s time to take your online reputation into your own hands instead of leaving it to Google. Here’s how.

Why First Impressions Matter on the Internet

It’s no secret that friends, nosy family members, and potential employers will all take to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to look for more information about you when they want it. In the case of family and friends, they already know you. When it comes to potential employers or people interested in working with you, it’s important to make sure that the things they find about you are representative of who you are (or who you want them to think you are.) 

 

You don’t have to be a job-seeker to understand the importance of your online reputation, though. You can be a freelancer or entrepreneur who wants to control their image, or just someone who doesn’t your name dragged through the mud. It may seem like the wall of Google search results when you search your name is impossible to control, but there are some clever things you can do. In this post, we’ll tackle some of them, and by the end you’ll have a better picture of what people find when they search for you. With work, you’ll even have better control over what they find.

Step One: Find Out Where You Stand (and Erase Embarrassments)

Before we get started, it’s a good idea to see what others see when they search for you. Then we can tweak what we find so it’s representative of the “you” that you want the public to see, not just what Google collects.

Search For Yourself on Google and Facebook

We’ll start with Google. You’ve probably done a vanity Google search before, but if not, now’s the time. Just log out of your Google accounts or use a browser where you’re not logged in (Google personalizes results based on your account activity) and search for your name. Don’t bother going more than a few pages deep, and make note of what you see. Remember, making a good first impression requires actually making an impression. While turning up nothing means no one will find anything bad, it also means they won’t learn anything good about you, and that can be pretty bad too.  Next, let’s check Facebook. You can view your public self on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+:

 

  1. Log out (or use a browser that’s logged out) and search for yourself by name. Even if you don’t use your name as your account ID, it may be easy to find yourself with a quick name search. See if that’s the case, and see what’s visible.
  2. Log back in and view your profile “as public.” Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ all make it easy to do this from your profile page. This way you can see what your profile looks like to someone who stumbles on you, even if you’re not easily found.
  3. Optional: Go deeper.We’ve covered how to do an even deeper dive on someone before. Most people won’t go to such lengths, but if you’re curious, give it a try.

Clean Up Any Results You Don’t Like

Now that you’ve seen what others see, it’s time to get rid of anything you don’t like. You can’t trust you’ll have the opportunity to explain the bad stuff away in a phone or in-person interview. We’ve discussed how to fix internet embarrassments before. Whether the behavior is your own, someone trolled you and set up fake profiles to defame you, or someone’s been impersonating you online, here’s how to handle it for each service:

  •  Google and Other Search Engines: If you found the offending results at Google or another search engine, ask them to remove the pages from their results. Google has a process for this, and another for Google Images, but they only apply to pages that have been taken down, or old, cached versions of pages that are still up-it’s not for pulling down any old page. DuckDuckGo has a feedback form, as does Bing, where you can submit takedown requests for non-legal reasons.
  • Facebook: Deleting is your best option (so no one takes screenshots or makes your private posts public without you knowing.) Alternatively, change post visibility individually, or can go go to Privacy Settings > Limit Past Post Visibility to hide everything at once. Get familiar with Facebook’s privacy options, and if the content is on Facebook but not under your control, we have some tips to help. Don’t get caught making the same mistake Lindsey Stone did. Make sure private posts are truly private, the only things public are the ones that showcase your public persona, and you think before you post.
  •  Twitter: Twitter is easy, just look at your profile by name. If your profile is public, everyone can see it, and if you use your real name as your handle, it’s easy to find. You can take your account private, but that won’t stop public users from quoting you (although it does stop retweets) or responding to you publicly. Remember, Twitter is probably the most public of all networks. Think before you tweet.
  • Google+: Your posts at Google+ aren’t as important as your Google profile. Hide anything you saw but wanted private when you viewed your profile earlier. Make useful details (a contact email address, links to your portfolio or personal web site, etc) are visible. Create topical circles for sharing andfamiliarize yourself with Google+’s privacy settings.
  • LinkedIn: If you post articles to LinkedIn, make sure they’re professional in nature and relevant to the public persona you want to put forward. While you’re there, go ahead and fill out your profile with additional details: odds are your profile may be incomplete, or the last time you updated it was the last time you changed jobs.

If all else fails, you can turn to services that promise to protect your online reputation. They’re usually effective, but they all cost money. For example, previously mentioned BrandYourselfand Reputation.com (formerly Reputation Defender) will all help streamline this process for you.

Step Two: Beef Up Your Online Presence with Better Profiles, a Nameplate Site, and More

Now that we’ve ditched the bad stuff, it’s time to build up the good stuff. Potential employers, business contacts, and people you network with will look you up anyway, so why not make sure what they find is what you want them to know?

Spruce Up Your Social Networks. Your social networks can be valuable tools if you use them. Update your LinkedIn profile with your interests and skills, not just your work history. Add some relevant interests to Facebook and leave them public. You may even want to like a few job or industry-related pages, or create a Facebook page specifically for your professional persona. Upload a good-looking profile photo to your Facebook, Twitter, and Google profiles, and consider filling out your photo gallery with flattering shots of you, your work, or even your projects and things you’ve worked on. Use every opportunity to showcase your skills, talents and interests, whether it’s in the “Likes” section of your Facebook profile, or the photos in your Instagram account. There’s nothing wrong with food photos at Instagram if you’re a self-described foodie, for example.

Sign up for new services that best showcase your skills. For example, if you want your indie film to get attention or you want to expand the audience of your video podcast, consider signing up for Vimeo as well as YouTube. You get access to a whole new community, and much more exposure. Are you a writer? Consider nabbing a named Tumblr account, even if you already blog at Wordpress. If you’re a photographer and want to build a portfolio, consider hosting your photos at Flickr, Smugmug, and Picasa to get the most exposure and make it easy for people to find you. At the very least, you can direct visitors to the service you regularly use.

Get a nameplate site (or several) that accurately reflects who you are. Choose the best nameplate site for the information you want to convey and sign up. For example, almost anyone can benefit from anAbout.me, Flavors.me, or Vizify account, but students may want to try Seelio because you can upload videos and projects that show off your skills even if you don’t have a resume to speak of. Business owners with projects can use Sidengo because their template pages feature things like contact pages, maps, and document downloads for things like forms and menus. They’re all free, and do a great job of linking visitors to networks you already use while conveying useful information.

Get your own domain and use it as a portfolio and for email. Owning your own domain is extremely valuable and worth more than the money you’ll pay to get it. Before you say “all the best domains are gone,” keep in mind that even if you can’t get yourname.com, you should be able to get a variation on it that’s close enough. If you can’t use your name, pick a domain you’re comfortable using as your personal banner and use that instead. Once you’re registered with a great registrar, choose a great hosting company and set up shop. If you’re a writer, host your own blog, or publish selected clips of your writing from other blogs. Republish yourself if you wrote something amazing elsewhere. If you’re a photographer or artist, use your domain as a portfolio to showcase your work. You can even just use it as an additional nameplate site. Behind the scenes, use your domain for email. It looks professional and every email you send is an invitation for the recipient to come and see your portfolio, full of links to the things you want them to see.

Make the most of those services. Make sure all of your profiles are filled out with as much useful information as possible. Don’t just sign up and walk away. Upload a good photo of yourself to your social networks and nameplates—preferably a flattering one—so potential employers and new friends alike see you at your best. Use a consistent email address across all of those services so it’s easy to get in touch with you, and cross-link them to one another frequently. This makes sure anyone who lands on one can easily get to everything else you do, and makes it easier for Google to index the real you.

Keep an eye on the results. For people who just want a good face and impression, you can stop here. For others who enjoy analyzing how people find them, most nameplate services offer analytics so you can see how people find you and where they click to leave. Add Google Analytics to your personal site and portfolio to see how well you’re being recieved, and what people come to your site to see. This way you can keep an eye on who’s looking for you and what their eyes are drawn to when they find you.

Step Three: Keep Your Best Foot Forward

By now, you’ve done your homework to find out what other people find when they look for you, cleaned up your profiles, and added content to the web that you control so people only see what you want them to learn about you. As you go forward with your shiny, professional online persona, make sure to keep it clean by following the fundamental rule of sharing on the internet: don’t post it if you don’t want it to be public. The internet is a big place with a long memory. Internet Shame Insurance can remind you if you’re about to post something you might regret.

Keep in mind that your ideal online first impression doesn’t have to be a perfect, rosy picture of your personality, just a truthful one. We agree with XKCD on this point—if putting your best foot forward keeps you from being a jerk, then great, but don’t let it stifle your brilliance or keep you from expressing your opinion and being true to your ideals. After all, those are the things we want people to learn about us when they go looking.

 

cross-posted from lifehacker

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Mine the Hidden Job Market with LinkedIn

 

LinkedIn is more than an online resume. It is more than your modern-day Rolodex. It is a database of user-supplied information waiting for you to tap into it!

Where Are the Hidden Jobs?

You are looking for hidden jobs, which means they aren’t advertised. So how do you find them? You have to work this backwards. Who are the companies who could potentially hire you? Think about competitors, vendors, suppliers, and/or any other company that hires people to do what you want to do. This will require some research and this is where LinkedIn comes into play!

Search by Skills & Expertise

From the drop down menu “More” select Skills & Expertise. Enter in a key word for your work/occupation.

In your results you will see LinkedIn profiles of people with this skill and on the side you will see other related skills. See what companies they work for. These are potential employers, or target companies. Also note on the right side of the screen the “Related Companies” listed. Perhaps these are more targets. Go check them out.

And if you scroll to the bottom and you will notice recommended Groups on LinkedIn. If you are looking for industry groups to join, this could  be your ticket!

Search by Job Title

Use “Advanced People Search” to search by Job Title. (Use the job titles you have found during your research.) You may want to start by filtering your search by “current title only”. You can also filter your results by location. Take note of what companies these people work for and add those companies to your target list.

Searching Companies by Industry/Location Etc.

You can slide and dice a company search in many different ways:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Relationship (1st, 2nd, 3rd degree connections, or all LinkedIn members)
  • Size (number of employees)
  • Number of followers
  • Fortune 500 ranking

You may want to see who the employers are in your city. Or you may want to see where people you know work. Or you may know that you want to work for a small company. You can filter your search by one or many of these criteria to find potential employers (aka target companies).

Following Companies

You’ve developed a list of target companies. These are places you would like to work or at least you think you may. These are not necessarily companies that are posting jobs at this time. This list is any company that could potentially hire you because they have positions you could do!

With your list in hand, follow these companies!

Part of your regular routine is to monitor the updates of companies you are following. This is easily done by clicking on the “company” tab on your home page of LinkedIn.

Now that you are following companies, LinkedIn is smart enough to suggest other companies you may want to follow. This is similar to the function you have seen with recommendations of people to connect with.

Company Research

See who you are connected to (or should be connected to) in the companies you are following. LinkedIn makes this easy to do. When you look at the company profile, it shows you who you are connected to who works there!

Check out the company’s tabs. They will have Employee Insights, and maybe even products/services and Careers tabs.

You can also see a list of companies viewed by other LinkedIn users. It says: “viewers also viewed:” Chances are, the companies listed there are competitors or similar. See if you should add them to your growing target list! Then, follow them too! If you want to be extra sleuthy, you can see where employees used to work and where they went after. Again, more potential targets for you!

Now What?

Your mission now, should you choose to accept it is to make personal contact with people who work inside your target companies and schedule an informational meeting! You are seeking information about what is going on within the company. Your secondary mission is to get to know the person and have them get to know you so that when they have a job, you are the person they will call before it gets advertised!

Opportunities…Not Jobs

I have purposely NOT discussed the “Job” search functionality within LinkedIn. Searching for posted jobs certainly is possible and something you can do on LinkedIn. I am pretty sure you can figure this out. Tapping into the hidden job market is a proactive approach to finding your next job. Give it a try! See what new companies you can add to your target list and begin following for potential opportunities!

 

cross posted from youtern.com

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Utilizing Twitter in your Job Search

Twitter is gaining ground as a job hunting resource.  Read entire article here.

Most of my clients recognize LinkedIn as their chief online professional networking resource.  It also lists a number of jobs.  But most people haven’t awakened to the value of Twitter as a means of identifying positions within targeted companies.

I think too many people believe Twitter to be just another online time-eater… something filled with tweets about where someone’s eating lunch or gossip on the latest movie star in rehab.

Make use of hashtags (the “#” symbol) to identify key words important to you.  Words like #accountant, #accounting, #manager, etc.  When those words appear in someone’s tweets, they’ll also appear to you.

As for targeting employers, simply think of a company where you’d like to work.  Let’s say, for example, you wanted to work for the Wooden Group.  Simply search Twitter for Wooden Group and you’ll find @woodengroup.  Follow it.  Do the same for other employers.  It’s not uncommon to find positions listed on Twitter before they’re published elsewhere.  Why not get a jump on your competition using social media?

If you’re already using Twitter in your search, how has it helped you?  Or has it helped at all?

Randy Wooden is a longtime Triad career consultant and director of Goodwill Industries of Northwest NC’s Professional Center. You may reach him at rwooden@goodwillnwnc.org.

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At GoodwillNWNC, We’ve Got to Act Fast…

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10 Ways to Get a Better Job

So your job is a drag. You could resign yourself to a life of dull (or even miserable) days in the office or you could set aside some time and get a better job. Here are ten great tips to help you put together a great application, ace the interview, and ultimately work for a company you’ll love rather than hate.

10. Put Together a Resume That’s Actually Compelling

While I’m no fan of the resume—as they’re often documents skimmed rather than read—they’re still requested by the majority of jobs you’ll come across. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but a little creativity can set you apart and help you stand out from the pool. Online tools can be of great help when it comes to creating something a little less ordinary. Visualize.me can create an attractive infographic. Sites like Re.vu and Zerply help you create professional landing pages that can serve as digital resumes. About.me and Flavors.me can be tailored to do the same. Use the tool that suits you best and make sure your page or resume stands out. Often times it is just as simple as choosing the right font and color. It doesn’t take much to make a resume look nice, so put in that little additional effort to keep yours from ending up in the generic pile.

9. Ensure Your Resume Isn’t Filled with Common Words and Redundant Phrasing

When writing your resume, you don’t want to use the sort of language that’ll make you sound like everyone else. That means avoiding overused terms (e.g motivated, innovative, dynamic) and cliche phrases (e.g. detail oriented, team player, excellent communication skills). Also, terms like “references available upon request” are implied statements, waste space, and do not need to be on your resume. It helps to read your resume from bottom to top to help catch errors, and when you’re done you can run it through RezScore to find out where you can still improve.

8. Search Unconventional and Career-Specific Job Sites

If you don’t know where you want to work you’re obviously going to have to search for some options., but you’ll be looking for a needle in a haystack if you go to popular sites like Monster.com and Craigslist. That isn’t to say they won’t have a great job here and there, but you’ll find yourself wading through a lot of undesirable positions just to find the ones you want. Instead of going the traditional route, try an unconventional job site like OneDayOneJob.com, which sends opportunities to your email inbox every day. SimplyHired is a seemingly standard job search, but it aggregates listings directly from company web sites and other locations so you’re not just pulling directly from one big pool. TweetMyJobs will handle the searching for you. Just tell it what kind of job you want and it’ll text, tweet, and email options to you as they’re discovered. Even if you’re several years out of college, you may also want to look at any job listings provided to alumni. Even if overqualified for the jobs being offered, you’ll learn about companies that are friendly to graduates of your school. You can look on the company’s site for more suitable positions and apply for those.

Alternatively, you can focus on sites that target the specific kind of job you want. For example, Dice.com is a good option for tech-related jobs and Authentic Jobs is a great option for designers and developers. Conduct a web search for the type of job you’re looking for and the term “job search site” and you may find a tool that’s more focused on your specific needs.

7. Find a Better Job by Searching for a Great Company Rather Than a Position

Getting a great job isn’t just about doing something you enjoy, but also about working in a good environment. That means you want to seek out companies who have a reputation for treating their employees well. You don’t have to apply to Google or Zappos—companies well-known for their great benefits—but just seek out companies that interest you and do a little research. All you have to do is call them up and talk to pretty much anybody. Just tell them this: “I’m thinking about applying for a job at your company but I wanted to know what it’s like to work there. Would you mind telling me how you like it?” Most people will be happy to share their opinion, and if they’re busy you can always schedule a call later. If the company sounds good, you’ve likely just made a friend who you can call back when you’re ready to apply and get some additional help. It’s a double win. In the event this doesn’t work as planned, however, Glassdoor is an online resource that can help you learn about a specific company from people who definitely want to share.

6. Learn to Make Even Your Irrelevant Experience Seem Relevant

I’ve never gotten a job because my previous work experience was particularly relevant, but rather because I learned how to spin my past experience to make it seem relevant. This doesn’t mean I lied, but instead concentrated on tasks in previous positions that were applicable to the job I wanted to get. If your current job is much different from the one you want, think about anything and everything you’ve done at your current job that’s out of the ordinary. Often times you’ll find examples of things that relate to the job you want because you were always excited to do that kind of work if it presented itself where you are now. If not, you can always start creating relevant experience now so you can use it when you’re on your interview. For example, if you work in a non-creative field but want to become a designer you would have plenty of opportunities. If you make lots of graphs and flow charts, finds ways to make them more attractive. If your company is having an outing, ask to design the flyer. When I worked in customer support, I used to create posters about inside jokes in the office or images based on funny things customers said. Sometimes I’d show these at interviews if I needed to demonstrate my Photoshop skills. As silly as that sounds, it not only demonstrated my capabilities but also showed how close I was with my team. When you put yourself into you work, you’ll find that your seemingly irrelevant experience can easily be tailored to most of the jobs you’ll apply for. You may have to start lower than you’d like, but if you work hard you’ll work your way up pretty quickly.

5. Dress Well for the Interview

Dressing for the interview doesn’t necessarily mean putting on crisply-ironed formalwear. Depending on the company, they may prefer you came in your everyday attire or just wore something that shows you can look nice without overdoing it. If you’re not sure what you should wear to an interview, just call the company and ask to speak with the human resources department. Let them know you’re coming in for an interview and that you want to know the expected dress code. In most cases, they’ll be happy to help you out. If you have to go in uninformed, however, business casual is generally a good bet. While nobody really knows what business casual actually is, you’ll generally be safe in a nice pair of pants and a button down shirt or sweater. Your goal is really to show that you’re capable of grooming yourself and looking presentable. If your clothing fits, is well-ironed, and isn’t something you’d wear around the house you’re probably in good shape. For some extra assistance, the Dress Code Guide can help you figure out the proper attire.

4. Learn to Read Body Language for a More Successful Interview

Learning to read body language is helpful in a lot of situations, but understanding the cues you send out and reading cues from others can be immensely helpful in a job interview. It’s especially important that you come of as pleasant and charming right off the bat because many decisions are made on the basis of a first impression. The most important thing is to avoid negative body language. For the most part you just want to avoid nervous ticks like touching your face and letting your leg become restless. You also don’t want to slouch or sit to rigidly. Basically, your goal is to appear comfortable but professional. If you can do that, you’ll be in good shape.

3. Know How to Give Great Answers to Common Job Interview Questions

What’s your greatest weakness? It’s an obnoxious question but you’ll hear it on the majority of job interviews in your life, and there are many others where it came from. (There’s plenty of debate on how to answer this question. I’ve always found the best strategy is to pick a skill you are actually bad at that sounds relevant to the job but really isn’t. Then you come across as honest but your weakness won’t hurt you.) You have to answer the questions if you want to get the job, so there are two things you want to do: understand the motivation behind the questions and prepare your answers in advance. Understanding the motivation is generally as simple as putting yourself in the company’s shoes. Why would they want to know your greatest weakness? Probably more to know how you respond to a question that asks you to be vulnerable than to actually find out where you can improve. They may also ask because they want to know if you can realistically gauge your abilities accurately. Once you consider the motivation behind these common questions it’ll be easier to tailor the answers you want to give. You don’t want to script them out and memorize them in advance, of course, but developing a list of sound bites can help you go in prepared while still being able to provide natural responses.

2. Ask for a Signing Bonus

Congratulations, you got the job! But you might be throwing away an extra month’s salary if you don’t ask for a signing bonus before accepting the position. If apply for a competitive job, chances are the company will really want to hire you if you’re chosen and they may be willing to pay you a little bit extra to get you on board. All you have to do is ask if they offer a bonus. You’re not demanding one, but simply asking the question. Whether you’re considering other options or not, asking this question will make it seem that way and they’ll be more inclined to offer you that bonus if they really want you. If they can’t, they’ll tell you no and there’s likely no harm done. It’s one of those low-risk questions that can often yield a high reward.

1. Leave Your Current Job Without Burning Any Bridges

If you hate your current job, it can be tempting to let everyone know it when you leave. As cathartic as that may seem, it’ll cause you trouble down the line. You want to leave your current company on good terms. You never know when you may encounter a coworker again or need to call that company for information or a favor. Burning bridges simply isn’t in your best interest. If you hate your job so much that you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, however, you can reference these sample resignation letters and read tips on how to resign gracefully. Before you quit for real, run your plan by a friend or two to gauge their reaction. It always helps to have a few outside opinions to help ensure you don’t make a mistake you’ll regret.

 

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6 Tips For Experienced Job Seekers Who Have Been Unemployed Long-Term

The tight job market has affected all demographics — but older workers have really felt the squeeze, particularly if they found themselves out of work for one reason or another. Statistics show that older workers are unemployed for an average of 44 weeks (more than 10 months), according to an AARP report.

After a recent post by my co-founder Sean, on the things employers want to see on your resume, we recognized how easy it is to get frustrated and want to give up during the job search. But staying active and positive is the key to job search success. Follow the tips below to maximize your job search and get one step closer to your ideal position.

1. Sell, sell, sell. Consistently, the biggest mistake we see is that people write a ‘me’ focused resume. A primary example of this is the outdated objective statement – if you have the word ‘seeking’ on your resume, you’re writing a ‘me’ resume. Employers don’t hire you for your satisfaction; they hire you to fill their own critical need. Think of it this way. If you were in sales, would you ever say to a customer “Buy this item because I need the commission”? And if you were the customer, would you buy? A ‘me’ centered resume says essentially the same thing.

Your job is to think of the potential employer as a customer. You’ve know they’re a hot lead because they’ve taken the time to post the job – so someone is going to close the deal with them. How do you make sure they go with you? By selling to them like you would sell to anyone else. Figure out their pain points. Why are they hiring? Who have they hired in the past? What’s their most critical need? And then go in there with your sales guns blazing; be the solution to their problem.

2. Really tap your network. As you’ve heard before, “it’s who you know” that often helps you land a job. This is especially true with small businesses who cannot afford to post jobs on pricey job boards (or don’t have the time to sift through the hundreds of applications they may receive), but some larger companies also rely on referrals to fill open positions.

Actively keep in touch with former colleagues, friends, and family, and let them know you’re on the job search. If you know someone who works at an organization you’d like to work for, ask them to grab coffee or lunch to strengthen your relationship and inquire about possible opportunities there.

3. Perfect your resume. If you’re on the job search, your first priority should be your resume. It must show your value to potential employers to ensure you make it to the interview round. Make sure resume uses active writing to show hiring managers and recruiters what you accomplished and what you’re capable of.

Make sure that your resume is clean and clutter free. Anything that does not effectively sell your skills needs to go. Clean up your resume by using the ever faithful bullet points. Always keep in mind that less is sometimes more. You don’t need to get too fancy with fonts, language or formatting.
4. Search for free using your resources. Find job opportunities from sites across the Web — from job boards and government sites, to company career sites and newspapers, and more. Set up email alerts or RSS feeds to learn about jobs as they’re posted. Keeping on top of new postings can help you be one of the first to apply and ensure you get your resume in front of employers before the position is filled.

5. Learn new skills. Although you likely have a lot of experience in your industry, there’s always room to learn something new, particularly if you have been unemployed for several months. Look for certification programs or relevant classes you can take to boost your resume and impress potential employers.

6. Use social media for personal branding and networking. According to a study by Jobvite, 16 percent of job seekers (a combination of unemployed and looking, employed and looking, or employed and open to a new job) said “an online social network directly led to finding their current/most recent job.” Of those, the majority (78 percent) attributed their job to Facebook, 40% to LinkedIn, and 42% to Twitter. Since each network can be beneficial to your job search in different ways, it’s important you don’t write off certain online opportunities because you don’t see the value or think your age demographic isn’t right for them.

You should also keep in mind that your presence on these networks represents your online brand. The majority of employers now use social media to screen job candidates, and 68 percent said they have hired someone based on what they saw about them online (such as giving a positive impression or supporting professional qualifications).

What do you think? Are there other tactics that helped you land a job when you were unemployed? Please share in the comments below!

Gerrit Hall is the CEO and co-founder of RezScore, a free Web application that reads, analyzes, and grades resumes — instantly. Gerrit has successfully combined his passion for computer science and the careers space by helping job seekers write the best resume possible. You can connect with Gerrit and RezScore on Facebook and Twitter.

Cross posted from Simplyhired

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