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Yes You Can Get to the Other Side of the Learning Curve

What Baby Boomers Need to Know about Social Media to Make it in Today’s Marketplace
By Anne Ptasznik

Is your LinkedIn profile complete?
How about your Google profile?
Do you have a blog?

If you’re an early adapter to new technologies and have answered yes to all of these questions, congratulations!  (You can probably stop reading now.)

But if you get brain cramps even thinking about learning how to use Twitter, Facebook and all the other social networking sites that pop up daily, and think you’re far too old and way too busy to learn these “younger generation” tools, here are a couple of good reasons why you may want to reconsider.

You have an online reputation.
Everyone does, and if you apply for a new job, one of the first things your employer will do is Google you. If you’re in private practise, your clients will check you out online. Any bad reviews of your counselling service, they may want to reconsider. As a career practitioner you will also need to be able to advise your clients about the basics of online reputation, just as you traditionally have with their resume, or at least, where to get some help.

Social media today is often where the jobs are.
Beyond dynamic new positions opening in the social media field itself, a range of jobs is increasingly being advertised through social networking sites or through the use of social media tools.  The second annual Social Recruitment Survey conducted by Jobvite (www.jobvite.com), a recruitment solutions provider, (as posted on the www.zdnet.com blog) found that employers are increasingly recruiting on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. According to the survey, recruitment and human resource professionals are using a variety of online sites to research candidates: LinkedIn (76 percent), search engines (67 percent), Facebook (44 percent) and Twitter (21 percent). Respondents reported that 24% of candidates disclose their social networking presence when applying for a job.

To help you get started, I have outlined some steps that you and your clients can take to improve your online presence:

1.      Monitor your name online.
Google allows you to set up alerts for key words including your name. Just Google “Google alerts,” enter your name, and set the search type as comprehensive. Whenever your name appears online, you will receive an e-mail notifying you and the link to the article, or blog or other source where you have been mentioned. If you have a popular name, you may receive a lot of alerts, so you may want to filter these in your inbox and take a look when you have some down time.

2.      Review your online status.
Google yourself using your first and last name in quotations (e.g. “Grace Kelly”) and check out the following:Ø       Do you appear (as opposed to others with your name)? Ø       How close to the top do you come up in the search results? Ø       Is there anything unflattering or untrue about you in any of the links?You can also check out www.onlineidcalculator.com, which helps you walk through the steps of assessing your online reputation.

3.      Fix what you can.
If there are unflattering or mean-spirited comments that come up in your name search, and they are ones that you posted yourself on a website or another online site that you control, delete them.  If there is a link to a photograph of you at your college reunion when you got drunk, which a friend of yours has posted on their Facebook site that has not been made private, ask them to remove it. It is true that some digital dirt will remain behind, so do be careful out there.

4.      Fill in your LinkedIn.com profile. The best way to grow your online identity, particularly if there are other people with names similar to yours, or there are some negative items you would like to push further down on the first Google search results page, is to use some of the social media tools. Google ranks these active links higher than links on a static website. LinkedIn.com is a great first choice, because it is a business-oriented social network site, very user friendly and enables you to connect with other business contacts and their connections.

5.      Create a Google profile.
Google now allows you to create a profile for yourself (search for Google profile), which like LinkedIn will surface rather quickly to the top of the search results.  While it allows you to input personal information, you may want to confine your profile to career or business related information.

6.      Become the expert.
If you are passionate about the work that you do and would spend time researching the area even if you’re not getting paid, then share that knowledge with others. You can do this through either posting comments on other people’s blogs or becoming a blogger yourself.  There are many free blogging tools available including those found at www.wordpress.com and www.blogger.com. Blogs also helps raise your profile to the top of Google searches, where a potential employer can see how knowledgeable you are about the subject.

7.      Decide what is private and what is public (for the most part).
Everything you do online is searchable. Even if you make your Facebook page private, all someone needs to do is copy and paste the information to a more public site. Having said that, you do need to make some choices about which tools you will use with your business colleagues, with your friends, and with associates who are both. For example, I “friend” my personal acquaintances on Facebook and invite my business associates to be LinkedIn connections. For Twitter (the microblogging social networking site where you can post only 140 characters to people who have opted to follow you), I communicate with both my personal and professional contacts, although I tend to only tweet (post comments) about business related issues, with the occasional personal comment thrown in.

8.      Listen to what employers are talking about.
In developing company’s social media strategies, the first recommended step is to listen to what their customers are saying online. You can do the same. Find companies that you would like to work for and check out what they are talking about. You can do this in several ways: Go to www.technorati.com to search for blogs about business areas of interest; search for the company blog and read it regularly; or check out the company’s Facebook site, and get first hand insight into the company culture and their current projects.

9.      Use social networking tools to find work.
In addition to using online job sites (many of which are listed at www.poss.ca), you can use some of the newer social networking tools to connect with potential employers. These are just two of the many options:  Ø       Join networking groups available through LinkedIn. The site also posts jobs and has a Q and A section, where you can respond to people’s questions and establish yourself as an expert. Ø       Sign up for a Twitter account (and no, only some people tweet what they are having for breakfast. Most people use it to tweet industry related news and important world developments). Then set up Tweetdeck, which is a dashboard for Twitter, where you can search for representatives from companies you would like to work for and click on follow. You can then see their tweets and respond, when appropriate, with useful information. Some of these companies are now tweeting when they have jobs available.

As a seasoned professional, you have a lot to offer, even in this tough economic market. Social media tools are just one more way of connecting with those employers who need your skills.

Anne Ptasznik, a writer and communications strategist, and a Certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator, has her Masters degree in Social Work and is currently completing the George Brown College Career and Work counselling program. Through her company, Creative Fusion, she helps individuals and companies manage their online reputations and leads Overcoming Your Fear of Online Exposure workshops for groups new to social media. For more information, please contact Anne at creativefusion@hotmail.com.

 

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