Career Development: Social Media and the Five Tools for the Professional Job Hunter

There's a billboard out there in the world of Social Media just waiting to see who you are and what you bring to the table. Do you know how to advertise it correctly?

“You need to stand out from the crowd if you’re going to find your ideal job”. How many times have you heard this over the last few months? The real question job seekers must be asking themselves now is, “OK, so how do I do this?”

CVs and cover letters have now received a welcome boost for the switched-on job hunter; the use of “social media” tools can help bring alive the skills, experience and personality of an individual. In other words, these tools, when used effectively, can allow them to stand out from the crowd.

For each job hunter there should be five tools in your job seekers bag; a well-developed CV, an individual cover note, a professional profile, an open social media account and a place to share your thoughts. Using these five tools will not only enable you to connect with others in the right circles but also allow future employers to see what you really have to offer.

Let’s look at the five tools in turn;

  • A well-developed CV is one which has received attention and has been fine-tuned. Once you are happy with your CV it becomes much easier to make those minor adjustments that are a must as you apply for an individual role. Job seekers that don’t invest this small amount of time when they apply for a new position will definitely see a drop in their application-to-interview ratio. Job seekers must make sure the required depth of information is there on the CV and that it reflects the essential criteria on the role specification. Sound like common sense? Yes it is, but still the crowd doesn’t do it.
  • An individual cover note to accompany the well-developed CV is a professional approach to applying for a position. Just because the application is being made online, on email, or through a job board, the business etiquette remains. Once you’re ready to apply, don’t hit the send button straightaway. Sit back, read it and imagine you are the recipient; would you be standing out for all the wrong reasons?
  • A professional profile is a great accompaniment to a strong CV and cover note application. At the moment, LinkedIn seems to be the strongest online professional community in the UK and you should become part of it. You can inform your job hunting audience that you are a member by including links in your CV and as part of your email signature. The online profile is so much more flexible in allowing you to share details about your career with interested parties. Create a profile which allows a certain amount of detail to be shared without someone having to link to you to view it. You can share details about your career history and use a completely different language to that of your CV; convey your experiences much more naturally, share a profile picture, add.
  • Using an open social media account is taking the professional profile to the next level by expanding your reach into other’s circles. An open social media account is one which is open to public readership without people having to ask your permission to read it. Creating accounts* on Twitter or Facebook are great for instantaneous communication and connections. You can share your IDs on CVs and email signature and invite others to reach you directly. The interesting thing about this relatively new way of making connections with people is that you never know where the benefits may come from. Sure, new jobs are posted everyday via Twitter, employees of organisations provide shout outs of new vacancies within their own companies and you meet people with similar backgrounds and experiences to yourself so you’re automatically networking without even knowing it. Twitter is a great way to share your experiences, thoughts on skills, your sector knowledge and your project management competency. In the job hunting process, this allows prospective employers to find out more about you and this shouldn’t be seen as a negative step. The horror stories of social media being used by companies as a vetting tool in the hiring process are only horror stories if you allow too much of your life to appear online. Keep it professional and respectful and make the tools work for you, not against you.
*Consider creating a professional account if you already have personal accounts where you’re connected to friends and family
  • A place to share your thoughts takes things like LinkedIn and Twitter to the next level by utilising free tools like blogs or websites. More and more project managers are sharing their approach to work, the skills they have acquired, stories about projects and even thoughts on leadership. Blogs are the easiest to start up and you can be online within minutes. Blogs are about having a little fun too, so don’t worry about a lack of journalistic skills. Blogs are about sharing your thoughts in a more informal setting as well as having the opportunity to market your abilities to readers. A well-maintained blog (at least one post a month) can then be used in conjunction with your professional profile and your social media accounts. For more information on Project Management blogs, see the “Top 25 Project Management Blogs“.

It has often been said, and said a lot by me, that finding a new position is like a marketing campaign, and the product being marketed is you. The CV and cover note might take the form of the brochure and press release, but does a marketer only use these two tools? No, and that’s why the job hunter has to look beyond the traditional methods and find out more about tools which are better suited to world we live in today.

This article is reprinted from the January 2010 issue of Project Management Tipoffs, the Project Management Newsletter from Arras People. You can subscribe to free issues of Tipoffs here as well as look at free editions from the Tipoffs library dating to 2003 regarding the affairs and issues central to modern project & programme management.

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