Although popular, the average LinkedIn user is in their mid-40s, which has created a perception among many younger professionals and college students that it’s not for them. But in these tough economic times, job seekers, no matter what their age may be, need every edge they can get.
Your online presence is typically the first impression with a recruiter or business contact. Recruiters will Google you and you will need to be in control of what they are going to find. LinkedIn profiles typically rank high in Google searches. LinkedIn is a great way to organize and manage professional relationships. Contacts you make during the job hunt and throughout your career may not necessarily make sense as Facebook friends, which is why LinkedIn is so useful in offering a platform for maintaining your professional network while keeping it separate from your personal life. The job search isn’t always an active process, and hiring managers and recruiters use this tool to find candidates to fill openings when needed. With an active presence on LinkedIn, you can capitalize on positions that others may not be aware of because of connections you have made through your job search process.
Job Fairs: Not As Advertised
Recruiters collect thousands of résumés and meet many people throughout their stays at job fairs. As the day progresses, so does their fatigue. Furthermore, very rarely do the recruiters and representatives make the final decision when it comes to hiring right there on the spot (as much as we wish they did!). They likely won’t even do the actual interviewing. The key to finding that right job is networking. The worst thing you can do is take a job fair too seriously. Networking is not putting on a $500 dress and attending a cocktail party, or in this case, a job fair. Networking does not mean speaking with a recruiter for two minutes and dropping off your résumé and never seeing them again. Rather, it’s something you do the moment you wake up every day. A survey I read on FoxBusiness.com found that job fairs are least helpful in landing employment. Especially in recessionary periods, these fairs are being heavily attended by job seekers and lightly attended by employers. Nowadays, there are so many different ways to network. Online classifieds and social networking have become the hottest trends. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have helped me tremendously throughout the years. Craigslist and Monster.com have become the go-to sites for job searching. Networking is huge, but you must keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Do not forget the traditional forms of job-hunting: cold calling and cold emailing, informational sessions and newspapers. Use them all. It is important to remember that the job search is a multifaceted process. Those who rely on just one tool, even if it is networking, will take longer to find a position. The problem with the ease and accessibility of the Internet is that many job seekers make it their primary job search tool. So don’t get lazy!
Develop a Portfolio of Some Kind
My dad is an accountant, so I have grown up with the mindset that I need to have facts and figures to support anything I am trying to argue about. This principle can be applied to finding a job. Employers, especially in businesses focused more on the creative side, are interested in what you bring to the table. It is nice to argue that you are very good at a certain skill, but it is even more effective by showing potential employers your skills and attributes in a portfolio. This will also be applicable depending on which industry you’re applying in. Writing samples would be great for communications but probably not for a creative design job; same could be said about having a great web page design portfolio but using it in an interview for an accounting position. One portfolio does not fit all, just like a resume. It constantly needs to be adapted and changed.
Just because you have a brand new degree hanging on your wall doesn’t mean you can stop reading books. If anything, the time when you are trying to look for a new job is one in which you should expand your knowledge base by learning about the profession you hope to get into (or about several you might be interested in). There are tons of books on being a better public speaker, writer, communicator in general, etc. that will go long ways when you are interviewing and when you eventually land your job. Also, stay up to date on the industry you are looking to get into. Whether it is reading a magazine about the industry once a week or checking a daily industry news website, this should become a routine for you moving forward to help you grow as a professional.
Mobile technology makes communication between potential employers easier and allows you to take advantage of down time during your day by investing in your job search. I would recommend saving a copy of your resume on your phone, so that you can quickly send it to potential employers. Having email at your fingertips also gives you the ability to set up interviews and calls without any lag time. Furthermore, mobile technology allows you to search job listings during a commute or other forms of down time, so that you’re not missing any opportunities.