How to use the #Top10 #SocialMedia sites to help you find a job.

By George Bernocco, CPRW

 

woman-on-computer-small

When looking for work on the internet, a lot of the same sites come up. LinkedIn, for example, is one site people tie social networking with job search. Facebook, however, is more tied to losing jobs. My argument in this post is that you can use any and all social media sites to help you find a job. In this article, I will break down the pros and cons for all the major social media sites to help you get a job (or even keep a job). Lastly, I also will discuss showing personality on your social media profiles.

exclamation

DISCLAIMER BEFORE WE GET STARTED: I contemplated adding this section to every single cons section below, but I figure I’d rather not repeat it over and over again:

 

spider-man-with-great-power

 

All these sites are powerful ways to connect, but you always have to be aware of what you post. Images, videos, tweets, status updates or personal information can be shared with everyone. With that, job offers can be retracted, you can be terminated from a job and some people have even faced legal consequences for what they’ve said on these sites.

 

Yes, these sites all have privacy settings that sometimes are difficult to navigate and correctly manage. Your best bet is to just be aware of what you say and do on the internet, and remember that the delete button doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone for good. Internet sites keep records (caches) of themselves which may have something you thought you deleted. Also with online websites there is always the potential of scams. Always be aware of anyone asking for your personal information over the internet.

 

  1. LinkedIn ( www.LinkedIn.com )

LinkedIn

Pros: LinkedIn a website that comes up on our blog a lot. More and more employers, job seekers, network contacts are joining this social networking website. Whether you want to connect with former employees, follow your favorite company, apply for jobs, build your interactive resume (profile) or join groups related to what you do, this website is for you. By creating a profile, you’ve notified employers that you have computer skills beyond e-mail and that you have social networking skills, something that has been building and building since the internet began. A lot of jobs allow you to fill out their online application using your LinkedIn profile to show you how advanced and almost required it has become. This website is also great to network! (surprise surprise for a social networking site). Get in contact with people to help you find a job, including career advice people such as myself.

 

Cons: LinkedIn doesn’t have many cons, and it has changed vastly throughout the years. LinkedIn does expect you to know what career you want (what industry you’re in) and does not allow you to select multiple categories. It is strongly advised that you know where you want to go career-wise and build your profile based upon that.

 

  1. Twitter ( www.Twitter.com )

Twitter

Pros: Hello Tweeters! Twitter has to be one of the most explosively popular sites out there because of the relatively short period of time it’s been around (since 2006). And with that popularity comes people to network and companies to follow. A lot of companies have accounts on Twitter and sometimes they may even have a separate account just to tweet jobs to followers. Twitter is a public forum, which even allows you to directly talk to company’s (or at least the person/people managing their social networking account). You can also question or comment to career experts for advice to help you with your job search. Bottom line is that Twitter can help promote your product and brand to make you stand out and be found by employers.

 

Cons: Twitter is a great site but there are some setbacks that can hinder your job search. The only thing someone needs to create an account is an e-mail address. Because of this, false accounts (sometimes called troll accounts) are created. Some accounts are verified (usually happens with celebrities or major corporations) and you’ll see a blue check mark that shows someone verified that this account is tied to who or what they represent. Other than that it may be difficult to determine if a person and/or a job posting are real (same problem with craigslist jobs).

 

  1. Facebook ( www.Facebook.com )

Facebook

Pros: The most popular networking site has a bad reputation when it comes to jobs. Facebook has tons of potential connections on one site to network with. This can help you easily find a job if you use it correctly. After all, networking has been the best way to find a job even before computers existed. Websites like Facebook let you connect with people, maybe former coworkers or friends of friends, to see if they know of any job postings, help with cover letters/resumes, or creating/joining career-related groups. Posting information related to your career can help you stand out amongst your friends and they can assist you with finding a job. Also a lot of companies have Facebook pages which you can follow and interact with them to assist you in job search.

 

Cons: Its worthwhile mentioning the disclaimer from above again because of the bad reputation Facebook has received regarding people LOSING a job offer or a job because of Facebook. Be careful of what you post and what other people post about you. Be careful who you’re friends with and who can see your profile. Even simple things like your birthday can possibly alter you opportunities for a job. It’s worthwhile digging into your privacy settings on a regular basis. Remember that no employer wants to see that embarrassing Christmas photo from last year.

 

  1. Pinterest ( www.Pinterest.com )

Pinterest

Pros: A visually stimulating site, Pinterest comes to mind for a lot of artists and visually creative fields. With this site, it can be geared towards job search and developing your brand. By managing images (and videos) related to your field, you can network with other people and use your Board to demonstrate knowledge of your field or create a portfolio for employers to review your work. An example for me, as a resume writer, would be to save images of resumes I’ve assisted with (minus the contact information, etc) to demonstrate my work as a living Portfolio.

 

Cons: Pinterest may not apply to everyone’s field because it relies heavily on visual media, and this problem can come up with a few other social media sites (i.e. Instagram, Vine). Employers do like someone who is creative so if you can manage to use this site to your advantage you would really stand out.

 

  1. Google+ ( www.GooglePlus.com )

Google+

Pros: Google+ can be mentioned in the same context as Facebook when we are talking about job search. Although only having less than a quarter as many users as Facebook, you can connect with people you’ve worked with, as well as others, to assist you finding a job. Google+ has your “circles” which you can create an organized group of network contacts. Circles allow you to share content to only specific groups of people, which helps maintain your privacy. Also you can follow companies and join communities related to your field allowing you to network with other people. Google+ lets you connect by adding someone to a circle of choice, without the person necessarily having to reciprocate the offer (this is more like Twitter than Facebook). Google+ also allows for free video conferencing in their “Hangouts” section which can be useful to practice teleconference interviews and share documents with people and employers.

 

Cons: Google+ has a following of people who use it and it is listed as the second largest social networking site after Facebook. However there are reports that people who are subscribed to it do not use it as often which may be difficult to use for networking. There are some career pages for companies on Google+, but not as many as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. However, Google+ is becoming a strong contender amongst social networks, and a job seeker should keep an eye out at how it can help you find a career.

 

  1. YouTube ( www.YouTube.com )

YouTube

Pros: A video sharing site, YouTube lets you upload videos to their site for others to view. Besides being in the artistic fields such as being a Director, YouTube can help you obtain a job by means of informational videos from job services professionals, or recording a “video resume” for employers to see. Employers also have accounts on YouTube which allows you to connect with them. You can also use videos on YouTube to demonstrate your knowledge, skills and abilities about a subject related to your field to build your portfolio. You can conduct seminars and informational videos to share with employers and your network. You can also do research about company’s and job hiring.

 

Cons: YouTube has a wealth of information and comes from a variety of different sources. You may find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of videos there are. People use YouTube for fun as well as seriously. You may have to sort out the videos you don’t need to find the ones you do.

 

  1. Tumblr ( www.Tumblr.com )

  2. Blogger ( www.Blogger.com )

  3. WordPress.com ( www.WordPress.com )

    Tumblr  Blogger  WordPress

    Pros: I incorporated some of the top blogging sites together to express how great blogging can be. Most people know of blogging as a diary or a journal of sorts. As you are reading this on a blog, you can see how it can be used to help you find a career. Not only can you find career advice, but you can develop and create your brand with your own blog. By demonstrating knowledge of your career through a blog, you can show employers that you are active. It also showcases your writing ability which is very important for any career that requires you to write regularly. By following blogs related to your field you can also network, comment and communicate with others in your field to help land you a job.

     

    Cons: Having a website that allows you to speak your mind can be dangerous. While reminding you of the disclaimer above, by having a blog you may get users commenting on your blog with unwanted remarks. Also, scammers and “troll accounts” can advertise their products on your page. You may have to restrict privacy settings and require approval before someone posts something on your page.

     

  4. Instagram ( www.Instagram.com )

Instagram

Pros: A visual social networking tool, Instagram can be used just like Pinterest as a visual portfolio to show off your creativity and work. I would say that Instagram would truly benefit those who work is really based upon visual art because it also adds the means of filters and image alteration. Instagram really demonstrates your ability for photography. Companies do have accounts on Instagram (i.e. Starbucks, IBM, Disney) so you can follow them and communicate with them. Having an Instagram account geared towards employment would have images related to your work to help build your online brand.

 

Cons: I debated about adding Instagram to this list because it really is based entirely upon photos and videos….but it has sharply increased in popularity. Major companies do have accounts on there just to keep up with social media trends and to market their products to users. Instagram really was designed to have fun with photos (and videos), so you’d have to be creative to think of ways it may help you land a job.

 

As you can see you can use your profile accounts for these sites to help land you a job. It is ok to demonstrate in your profiles for these websites your personality. For example, if on your Pinterest board you have ideas for decorations for your house don’t feel the need to delete it just because you want your board to be more professionally oriented. Same goes if you are a sports fan and you use Twitter to talk about games. If you’d rather not use your Facebook account (or any of the other accounts listed above) towards obtaining employment, just make sure you adjust your privacy settings.

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Old School vs New School #GenerationCompany: 5 Tips to get #Hired

By George Bernocco, CPRW

old fashionednew

One of the most important steps to getting your ideal career with your ideal company is research. Understanding the company will give you an advantage during the hiring process. But we must also look at a company’s hiring process on the whole. Is the company up to date with technology? Are they still trying to catch up? Do they rely on “standard” methods of communication? Does the position you are applying for require you to assist with the transition into newer technology?

Although some of these questions I’ve posed require “insider” knowledge, others can be deduced by you noticing the company’s and it’s employee’s behavior. Also being very aware of what the job posting is requiring from you, especially computer skills may help you get a better idea about where the company is in today’s technological age. Gaining insider knowledge involves listening to any current or former employee’s perspective about their work can also give you clues into the company’s culture.

We are at a stage where more and more careers require some method of computer interaction. However, some companies are still trying to advance themselves into the technological age. Recognizing where a company you wish to work for stands on the spectrum of technologically advancement will give you insight into the job laid before you.

Here are some basic tips to give you an advantage with your job search:

  1. You’ve Got Mail

mail

More and more companies are cutting down on the length of time for the application process. If a company is asking you to submit your application over regular mail, it should immediately notify you that they are not up to date with technology. Also, I would even go as far as to say that because everything is done over mail, the pace of the company is much slower. Asking for your application information over e-mail tells you they are more advanced. In this case, I would recommend sending a “thank you” e-mail after the interview. If you sent a “thank you” e-mail to a company who required everything over fax or postal mail, they might view it negatively.

  1. What’s Up, Doc?

Doc

Understand your file types! When applying for a job on the internet, the website or e-mail instructions may require you to upload a file for your resume or application package. Depending on what they ask for can give you a hint to how advanced they are. For example, asking for a .DOCX file format can tell you they expect you to know Microsoft Word 2007 or later. Asking for a .PDF may require you to have understanding of Adobe Reader and conversion of your resume into that format. Asking for a .DOC or .RTF would signify to me they are not as advanced when it comes to Microsoft Office.

  1. Socialite

social

Any mere mention of social networking sites during the application process should give you a big clue that the company is more advanced. Most likely you might see a way to use LinkedIn to apply for the job on their website (a feature becoming more and more popular). Also, if the company has social networking profiles gives you an idea about where they are on the technology spectrum. Some companies, particularly large companies, will have multiple profiles on a website like Twitter (some geared specifically towards their career openings). Knowing that a company consistently utilizes social networking should get you bonus points when you are asked during the interview: “What do you know about our company?” Getting yourself involved in social networking sites can also assist you with standing out. On the other hand, knowing about this information for a company who is behind can produce a selling point on your behalf. Let the company know you are more than willing to assist in the transition to the technology age.

  1. Have You Heard?

newspaper

How you heard the job and where you found it will provide basic clues to the company. An extreme example would be finding a job in the newspaper versus finding a job on LinkedIn. If the job was in the paper, I might stick to more traditional ways of applying. For example, mailing in my resume (or dropping it off in person) and calling for an interview.

  1. Show Off

webcam

Communicating with the company through the computer may mean interviewing through the computer as well. Teleconferencing gives you a big indication of the company’s stance on technology. Some companies may require you to travel long distances (flight and all) for an interview, as opposed to conferencing over the internet. Having the capability to teleconference and understanding how to use Skype and other teleconference services would be an advantage for you. Fumbling around with your computer during a teleconference interview because you can’t get the audio to work would work against you.

A company is an intricate and complex organization which relies on procedures to function. Companies that fall behind in technology will see themselves struggle to stay afloat. Knowing where a company is technologically will be a great advantage to you in the hiring process. Make sure you are up to date with current technology. Some companies will be hiring to help transition themselves into the technological age. Make sure that is a topic you cover during the interview to really make you stand out.

Re-Boot Your #OnlinePresence

Every new graduate should see the value in maintaining a solid, professional online presence.  Hiring managers and recruiters could be searching for you online at any point in the job search process. Are they seeing digital gold or digital dirt? Your online presence can validate your candidacy and effectively market you to stand out against the competition.

 

  1. Google Yourself

 

Take control of your online reputation. Try Googling yourself to see if you have any digital dirt in cyberspace. Growing up with the internet means you’ve been going online long before you thought about your career. Information about you (good or bad) may still exist in the form of online journals, games, forums or personal websites.

 

  1. Create Profiles on Social and Professional Networks

 

It’s time to re-boot your online presence. Develop new content on social networking sites, blogs, or personal pages to market yourself and your value as a candidate. To show up on the first page of search results, join sites that have a high Google ranking like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Use social media to your advantage: remove any content under your control that is no longer relevant.

 

  1. Complete Your Profiles

 

So you’re on LinkedIn and Twitter. The only way they will help you stand out is if you complete your profiles. Many sites have step-by-step instructions for completing profiles on these networks. These sites are an opportunity to market yourself and complement your resume. They will only be worthwhile if they contain information that isn’t simply a copy and paste of your resume. LinkedIn can showcase your recommendations, endorsements, previous work history, awards, or skills that you didn’t have the opportunity to discuss in the interview.

 

Not completing your profile or leaving sections blank may not hurt your job search, but it is a missed opportunity that most cannot afford in this competitive market.

 

  1. 3 P’s: Public, Professional, and Presentable

 

Employers want to learn more about you and see if the person they interviewed is the same out of the office. If you prefer to keep your profile private, just remember that everything online has the potential to go public. A friend can retweet you from your private Twitter, you can be tagged in posts on Facebook, and friends can take screenshots on any app or platform.

 

Nothing online is ever truly private, so be proactive. Try finding a way to refine your regular use of social media.  Improve your chances of securing a second interview or job offer by showing hiring managers you present yourself professionally.

 

Some employers look up candidates to determine cultural fit.  Sharing your love of hiking may work in your favor, but your political views may be another story. Make sure any questionable content is removed. Leave any groups or unlike any pages that stir controversy or could be seen as a red flag to an employer.

 

And Remember…

 

Taking extra steps to ensure you market yourself effectively will make you stand out from the competition. Don’t overlook these details – start managing your online reputation today!

#JobSearch: You are the #Brand; Your Skills are the #Product

By George Bernocco, CPRW

Brand-Story

If you’ve ever tried to sell something to prospective buyers before, you may understand the concept of marketing. Trying to match what the buyers are looking for with the goods you have to offer. When you create a “Brand”, you are not only trying to match the buyer’s needs but you are trying to distinguish yourself and your merchandise from other vendors/products out there. Making your product stand out from the rest sells your product and thus creates a brand.

When we apply the concepts of marketing and creating a brand to job search, not much has changed. The product you are trying to sell is your skills. To create your brand essentially means that you get your brand name out into the market so that it can be found by interested parties. Word of mouth is a very popular marketing tool, which is why job search networking is crucial. The idea behind having a strong network is to have network contacts recommending your brand name product (your skills) to a prospective buyer (employer). By having more and more people discussing your product, your brand name has begun to develop a “presence”. By having a presence, you’ve become recognizable, memorable, relatable and authentic.

Let’s step back to think about some of the day to day items we purchase. There are some brands I prefer over others, and it depends upon my experiences with these brands. Commercials we see on television, or even before a YouTube video, are all about trying to make a company’s product real to you. When you are applying for work, you are on the business end of trying to make yourself real to a company. Interviews can be viewed as a live-action commercial, or “infomercial”, to the employer. Some commercials are more interesting and relatable than others, which is why we don’t buy everything that we see on TV.

So we’ve established network contacts that will also provide “word of mouth” recommendations about you. Now what is the next step to getting our brand out there? We can follow the business model of how companies get their name out there. Business cards, for example, sell a company’s product easily because they can be passed on to interested parties who have a reminder of their services. They are small little reminders about services and goods that are portable and easy to carry. Networking cards are identical to business cards and with the only difference being that you are the brand and your skills are the products being offered.

To take your brand development to the next level, technology has the potential to move your brand name through the world. Much like commercials have expanded from billboard ads to radio to television and now online videos, we must get our brand out there and up to date with current trends. The internet is an exceptional tool for you to utilize to get your name recognizable. As soon as you created any sort of profile that is visible to anyone else on the internet, you’ve started what we call a “digital presence”. Facebook, LinkedIn, a personal blog, Twitter, and much more can be all tied to your digital presence. You should select each social networking site carefully with the goal of controlling your digital presence. How you market yourself on these websites is imperative to your brand name. An employer wouldn’t hire an potential employee who has images of them doing drugs on Facebook much like you wouldn’t buy a car that catches fire in their commercial, nor would you probably trust the car-maker brand name. To sell your product, you must protect and maintain an “image” for your brand. In regards to your job search, your image should be professional, interesting and relevant.

Be aware of what may hurt your image when it comes to your digital presence. Much like a bad review at a restaurant can hurt its business; a negative search with your name can hurt your chances of getting a job. Your brand must be solid and dependable, which will reflect your product (the work you do).

Being a member of organizations and being published in relation to the work you do also assist with developing your brand. If your name is out there where employers can trace your work, you have successfully developed something that the potential employers can identify with. Just be aware that other information outside of your field could help or hurt. It is important to know what is out there regarding your product.

When you create your own brand and market your abilities as your product, you are answering the employer’s question: “Why should I hire you over the other candidates?” Identifying your strengths as brand name recognition will put you ahead of the candidates. In the end, the employer will select a brand (candidate) that is most in line with their goals and fits well with their corporate environment.

When your #Resolution is to get back into the #Workforce: FAQ

By George Bernocco, CPRW

A new year brings about new promises, hopes, dreams and goals. Will this year be better than the last? In terms of the job market, we hope so. Over 1.3 million people are losing their unemployment extensions at the end of 2013 and now must look to the New Year with uncertainty about employment and employability. Let us look at some of the factors that will come into play for the 2014 job market:

Is the job market getting any better?

Yes. Slowly but surely the job market numbers have gotten better, especially towards the end of 2013. Every state is different, but Connecticut has improved recently in the fourth quarter. Unemployment rates across the board are shrinking, jobless claims are also going down and jobs are being created. The year to come looks promising when we observe what happened to the job market in 2013.

What will employers be hiring for?

Many different sources can point to many different directions, but I feel confident saying that technology and healthcare jobs will be at the forefront of hiring. Especially if any of the jobs cross over due to the new healthcare laws. Technology is an extremely important skill to have, whether is using a computer to creating an “app” for a tablet, the world has become more reliant on technology.

How will employers hire?

Marketing your skills successfully has always been the best way to get employment. I feel that the 2014 year will still be an “employer market” where companies can be pickier about whom they hire because of the amount of job seekers. Continuing to build a digital presence to get noticed by employers will follow through into 2014. Some of the items to obtain employment that will continue are:

  • Professional resumes and LinkedIn profiles
  • In-person interviews and videoconference/teleconference interviews
  • Cover letters and thank you letters; cover letter e-mails and thank you e-mails
  • Networking and social media
  • Online applications

Will I be paid enough?

Across the United States, at least 14 states (including Connecticut), will raise their minimum wages. Some of them are even adjusting their laws regarding how they go about raising the wage every year. The federal government is also looking at raising the federal minimum wage. Average rates of pay across the United States have increased by 3% for 2013, and are expected to continue for 2014.

Moving on towards 2014, our country is recovering from a long and difficult recession. The important part is that we are recovering and it may take a long time for the entire nation to feel parts of that recovery. Continuing to pursue your ideal opportunity, working on your digital presence and networking to break into the job market will all assist you in 2014.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind ?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

new years

Sources:

http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/compensation/articles/pages/2014-salary-increases-flat.aspx

http://www.npr.org/2013/12/24/256879640/living-wage-effort-eclipsed-by-minimum-pay-battles

http://www.careerinfonet.org

http://www1.ctdol.state.ct.us/lmi/index.asp

Saving Face, Booking Your Future: Using #Facebook for #JobSearch

By George Bernocco, CPRW

Facebook_like_thumb

There has been a lot of talk about LinkedIn to get people back to work. In fact, when I was asked to conduct a general social media workshop, the content I was given revolved almost entirely around LinkedIn. I consider myself to be a realist, and to not mention Facebook when talking about social media is incomprehensible. Facebook is wildly popular and trends suggest the social media giant will be around for quite some time.

When I do mention Facebook and employment in my workshop, people suddenly know someone who knows someone that was let go because of Facebook. A general search on Google provided me with multiple cases of Facebook causing people to leave a job unwillingly. Opening up your feelings in such an open forum can come back to you. The news outlets have plenty of examples of those who now regret what they said in a status update or a tweet. The news does not report how many people obtain jobs through Facebook. So how does one gear their profile to get them a job? Here are some pieces of advice:

privacy

Control your privacy

Make sure you get into your privacy settings and know who can see which parts of your profile. This is crucial, because if you haven’t been getting those calls for interviews and you’re wondering why, your Facebook profile may be accessible. Employers who can will access your profile and you want it to help you. The privacy settings can be confusing, but they are there to protect you. Remember that you can control who can see your photos, and other individual aspects of your profile.

professional

Keep it professional

You may find it amusing to have a profile picture from your last Christmas party. You may like to curse out politicians amongst your friends. Just remember that you can be found by people outside your group of friends unless you adjust your privacy. If a prospective employer sees you binge drinking in your profile picture, they will not like it. They will also not be too thrilled with status updates (if they have access to them) in which you decided to swear at someone. These are judgments that will be made against you and will impact your ability to be hired. Also remember that if you are asking someone for a reference, or having someone you know try to get you a job at a company, they may not want to vouch for you because of what they see on your Facebook.

group

Create or join groups

As with LinkedIn, Facebook has groups you can join. These groups may be relevant to your profession. I would recommend joining them and connecting with them. If you cannot find any for your profession, create one. I don’t see a problem with joining groups that are directly related to your hobbies. Just be aware that the employer may have access to the groups you do join. If they do, avoid controversial groups, or ones that may disclose too much information about you. Otherwise, groups are excellent networking tools find out about job openings. When networking through the internet, reciprocity is crucial Help others and they will be more inclined to help you.

help

Ask for help

Not everyone you are connected to may know you are looking for work. I have seen my fair share of status updates asking for a cover letter, a resume critique or where to find a job. The more people on your side for job search, the easier it will be to find a job. Maybe your network doesn’t know of any opportunities at the exact moment you posted your question. Hopefully from then on, you will be in the back of their mind so when they do hear about a position, they will let you know.

Facebook has really opened up the doors for social networking. Just ensure you can gear it towards obtaining employment. We all have our personalities, our personal lives which employers understand. However, it is an employer market in which the companies are looking for ways to cut down on such a large pool of candidates. Facebook can hurt; there is no doubt about it. The trick is to use any types of social media as a positive and by staying professional, managing your privacy and networking, you will have utilized Facebook to help you find a job.

Digital Headaches

The Skinny on On-Line Applications

By Uri Allen, CPRW

One of the biggest complaints I hear from job seekers is how much they hate/loathe/dread the online application. For those with little to no computer skills, online applications are yet another hurdle they have to overcome in order to stay competitive with today’s job market. My boomers (and some Gen X’ers) complain that the online application is just too impersonal and that if they could only talk to someone…in person. My Gen Y and some of my millennial clients complain that the application process is too long and what’s with those stupid tests they make you take? And did they just ask the same question twice? It seems as though each generation has their own complaints but one thing they can all agree on (for once) is that online job applications are the pits. So why are so many employers using this format? For this blog post, I will delve into the world of online applications and see if there is indeed some method to the madness that has so many frustrated job seekers looking to office space their computers.

Don’t take a bat to your computer just yet!
office-space-fax

IT’S A NUMBERS GAME

OK so let’s face it…it’s an employers market out there. With an abundance of job seekers looking for work, employers are often overwhelmed with the amount of applicants they receive when they post a position. For a single job posting, employers on average receive about 250 applications. An article on ere.net went on to post these staggering statistics:

Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening. Finding a position opening late can’t help your chances because the first resume is received within 200 seconds after a position is posted. If you post your resume online on a major job site like Monster so that a recruiter can find it, you are facing stiff competition because 427,000other resumes are posted on Monster alone each and every week (BeHiring).

It’s no wonder with numbers like that, employers needed a way to effectively manage the responses they were getting. With the job market being in the toilet for so long, job seekers find themselves in dire straits and begin to apply for ANY job, even if they were not qualified for it which drove up the number of resumes a potential employer needed to weed out. This weeding out process was costing employers to spend a great deal of time sifting through resumes to find qualified candidates (time=money) and thus, Applicant Tracking Systems come into the picture. These tracking systems (i.e. online applications) allow employers to filter out erroneous applicants and applicants that don’t meet qualifications set by the employer.  This, above everything else, is probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest driving factor in the reason why so many employers are turning to online applications.

Some others boil down to simply convenience. Online applications allow employers to gather LOTS of information and the new applicant tracking systems allow this information to be organized and cataloged alot easier than paper applications. Online applications also level the playing field and give everyone the same starting advantage (so to speak…not so much for those less computer savvy). Whereas in the past an application might be rejected because of messy handwriting, these online processes allow job seekers to neatly and completely fill out applications. Those little red asterisks tell you exactly what you need to fill out and what you might have missed which can be a huge PLUS for job seekers who tend to miss or overlook things on an application.  These tracking systems can also accept resumes and aggregate assessment test results and keep everything in an orderly fashion so that an employer can pull up the information at the drop of a dime. So while it does seem like an impossible inconvenience, there are some pluses for job seekers and some ways that you can make your online application process easier and more effective.

1) Become computer savvy. These days there is really very little excuse for not knowing how to use a computer. They are such an integral part of our society, you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage if you don’t learn how to use one. Visit your local CTWorks or One Stop center and take some computer classes so that you don’t take yourself out of the running for your dream job because you lacked the computer skills to apply for one.

2) Have (and use) a plain text version of your resume when pasting into the text box of your application. Fancy formatting is great if you are attaching it but all that does is jumble up and make your resume look weird when you are trying to paste it into a text box. The folks over at Dummies created this great tutorial that will walk you through the process of converting your resume to plain text. Use a plain text version when pasting to avoid any formatting weirdness.

3) Meet the qualifications of the job posting. If the job posting says the position requires advanced Excel but your computer skills don’t extend far beyond playing Farmville on your iPad, you would fare better to find a position that didn’t include a skill you lack. It’s a waste of time for both you and the employer to apply to positions that you do not meet the requirements for. With such an abundance of job seekers, there are plenty out there that will meet the requirements and all you are doing is setting yourself up for rejection by applying to jobs that you are not qualified for.

4) Fill out all of the required fields. With real information. I was shocked when I heard that someone had recommended that job seekers skirt around filling out their birthdays and social security numbers by inserting all 0’s in to the fields. This is a sure fire way to raise some red flags and get your application tagged for the garbage pile. Employers use this information to perform background and criminal checks, so it’s important that a potential employer isn’t confusing you with someone else with a less savory background. Many employers also use secure sites so your information is less likely to be compromised. For some tips on safe online usage, another one of our CTCG bloggers Erica created a great infographic about staying safe online.

5) Treat it like a paper application. Proofread everything, make sure that all of the information is correct and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Online applications hold the same weight as paper applications are a legal documents so be sure to be honest on the application as well. If an employer finds out you fibbed on the online app, you could be terminated from your position. When attaching cover letters and resumes, treat them as you would if you were handing them to an employer…tailor the cover letter and resume to the position, highlighting how your skills and abilities are a good match to the posting and make sure these are error free.

While the above tips can’t guarantee 100% that your resume won’t end up in the black hole abyss of the internet, they can at least make the process a lot less painful and awful. If you have any tips to share about navigating the world of online applications, leave a comment!

Who are you?

 

Managing your non-professional Social Network during a job search

By Uri Allen, CPRW

think

I love stories and I especially love stories that have a moral to them…think Aesop’s Fables, tortoise and the hare and all that good stuff. Well, today I’m going to tell you a story from the book of Uri’s Fables. Once upon a time there was a girl who had finally found her dream job as a preschool teacher for a local organization in her town. She had a great résumé, aced the interview, wowed the hiring manager, her credentials and references were pristine and she passed the background check. Everything was coming up ponies, rainbows and unicorns for the girl. Shortly before the hiring manager was going to call with an offer he Google searched the girl (as he does for every potential candidate) and much to his dismay he found her Facebook filled with pictures of the girl drinking, partying and general debauchery. He knew that if he was able to find these pictures of the girl than surely the web savvy parents of students could find them as well…and that would be REALLY bad for business. The hiring manager composed a rejection letter, neatly sealed it in an envelope addressed to the girl and picked up the phone to offer the job to another candidate who did not have pictures of herself drinking and partying wildly for all to see on the internet.

Now unlike Aesop’s Fables, Uri’s Fables are true and this was a factual recounting of events that actually took place at an organization I worked for. And stories like these are not uncommon. These days hiring managers are using the web and its vast amount of information to narrow down candidates to only the best of the best. If a job seeker has a less than stellar web presence this could have a direct impact on their ability to become employed. So as a job seeker you have to ask yourself what are employers seeing when they search for you?

The first thing any job seeker should do is fire up their favorite search engine (I’m partial to Google), put their name in the search bar and sift through the results. If you have a common name, you may want to Google-fu and use some search modifiers to weed out the erroneous results. Does your Facebook show up with your shady spring break pictures? Has that Myspace you created years ago when you went through your Goth phase appear in the search results? Doing a web search is often a quick, easy and free way for employers to do a preliminary background check and since they aren’t pulling information with your social AND information that is pulled is public, they do not need to get a release form signed to access this information. If your social networking profiles are public, believe me it is incredibly easy for an employer to find them.

Ok…so that angry, hate and obscenity filled rant over Firefly getting cancelled came back to haunt you. Now what? If you find that some less-than-stellar things appear in the search results, you will want to set about trying to remove them, if you can. Log-in to the websites that they appear on and make the profiles private, delete the offending posts, remove the offending pictures. If you can’t remember your log in information, sometimes an honest and  earnest email can be sent to the webmaster or help desk of the webpage to have the offending information removed. Explain to them that you are in the process of a job search and this offending information is appearing in search results and do your best to get it removed. They may comply but they may not, so be prepared for that.

Now, while this is not a 100% safeguard that they won’t still be stored on the net (often times a cached or old version of the offending info will be stored for a time) they make the information a lot harder to find by savvy web-searching hiring managers. Google and other search engines periodically will refresh these stored caches and your internet offenses will become more and more buried as they are replaced with the new, cleaned-up versions.

The next thing that you should do is make sure all of your non-professional (usually Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, for example) social networking profiles are locked down in private mode. It is a fact that we all (well, most of us) have lives outside of work. It is also a fact that merging business with pleasure or personal with professional is seldom a smart idea. For this very reason, it is imperative to keep the two worlds separate. And while you think the universe may need pictures of every meal that you eat and information about every cause that you support, you never know what is going to offend someone. And the last person you would want to offend is a potential (or current) employer. Another plus to keeping your information private is it becomes a lot harder for your personal business to wind up on those pesky search results and webpage caches. There has been so much controversy, in fact, in the role that social networking sites play in the ability for people to obtain employment,   Facebook has had to address issues with employers requiring (forcing) employees and potential employees to hand over their Facebook log ins (which is a whole other issue all together).

Social media and networking is here to stay. The best advice is to be smart, responsible and make good decisions when you use it and do your best to keep anything that is controversial or questionable out of the public eye. While it might be fun to share those crazy club photos, is the world going to be any less awesome if you didn’t post it? Probably not. Bottom line? Think before you click (like).