Look around you right now… Chances are people are on their phones, tapping away at their Blackberries, Googling facts on their iPhones, updating their Facebook profile or following David Beckham on Twitter (or is that just us?). There’s no escaping it: nowadays, we need the Internet like we need oxygen. Daily visits to networking sites are simply second nature. But what if you tried to channel your online energy into your career, rather than your Facebook page? In today’s digital age, the career pros say it’s the way to up your game and appeal to employers – you just need to know how to do it. Here, they reveal the dos and don’ts of online-career-building. Social climbers, take note!
Do Some Digging
“Make a list of the people working in your dream career,” advises Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert. “Hit up their LinkedIn Profiles or their employers’ LinkedIn Company Pages, find out what was their trajectory and what skill sets they have.” Such information will help you work on your own skillset, but, says Williams, don’t be put off if your experience doesn’t quite cut the mustard. “If you have limitations (such as degree or age) that prevent you from getting the job done, take a look at what these people did before and after. It may awaken you to other options out there.”
Tracked down your career idols? “Connect with them ASAP,” says Nicole. “They’re the quickest way into your dream career.” If you feel a bit, well, like a stalker, Nicole says: stop right there! “People who are working in their dream careers generally love what they do and are delighted to talk about it.”
Ask the Right Questions
Remember that when you reach out on LinkedIn, you’re not chatting to your gal pals on Facebook – keep career networking professional. “Ask educated questions about how to build the experiences and skill sets you need to break into the career,” suggests Nicole. “Ask whether it’s really worth it too – we often have fantasies that don’t necessarily reflect the reality of the job. This is the ideal person to ask about the day-to-day ups and downs that you can expect.”
Go Beyond the Norm
Reputation.com counsels CEOs, politicians and movie stars on reputational matters. Its PR Director Leslie Hobbs says you don’t have to stop at LinkedIn: “Identify groups, blogs, Twitter accounts etcetera that are industry-specific, and start commenting and interacting with other professionals,” she says. “It’s great online networking and it also gives others a chance to see how perceptive and savvy you are.” The benefit? “Hiring managers love those qualities.”
Be a Social Professional
Facebook has its uses beyond showcasing your holiday snaps, according to advice found on Reputation.com’s Leslie: “Start professionally-oriented social media accounts as well. These are the Facebook and Twitter accounts that you want hiring managers and recruiters to find.” But what does a woman put on them if not our latest photos? “It’s where you’re posting interesting articles on industry topics, sharing professional milestones, and posting content that highlights your know-how.”
Talk it Up!
“If you’ve had a dream career, make sure to add it to your profile,” says Williams, it could help you, or someone else, get ahead: “One of the misnomers about LinkedIn is that it’s only for people with traditional careers. With 150 astronauts and 30,000 wine and beer specialists on the list we can safely say that if you’ve done it, we want to hear about it!” Indeed, when it comes to your next move, it’s the offbeat jobs that could make a difference. “The career experiences that you’ve had make you unique and they may be the very things that differentiate you from your competition,” says Williams. The wackiest she’s seen? “A Mermaid at Atlantis Resort, Bahamas’ who ‘creates her own highly exquisite, artistic, yet functional, mermaid tails’.” Beat that.
If you’re using the Internet to up your career profile, could there be anything you’d rather potential employers didn’t see? Leslie has this advice: “Clean up your personal social media accounts and remove friends who are really acquaintances (or limit what they see). Make sure your privacy settings are strong (while remembering that nothing on the Internet is private), and delete photos that may give a bad impression.” Maybe time to remove those photos of dancing on the table in Mahiki then?
Be Top of the Search
The Internet-savvy should go one step further to ensure it’s their name that hits the top spot when employers search your name. “Link your professional accounts together,” says Hobbs, “LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter … so that they rank more highly in search results.” If you don’t know how, enlist the help of a friend or work’s computer geek!
Seek Out E-Mentors
Twitter isn’t just for finding out the latest drama with Kim and Kanye. There is a whole host of professionals saying far more interesting things – so why not follow them? Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington and entrepreneur Karen Brady are a few career woman who give us serious inspiration!
Unleash Your Creative Genius
A career-driven blog, an online portfolio, an interactive website: nowadays there’s all sorts of ways to sell yourself beyond a basic CV. If you work in a creative field, chances are you can get away with being a bit more offbeat than a financial exec. So why get inspiration from the web product manager who made a CV to look like an Amazon page? Or the journalist who uploaded a short ‘Hire me!’ video? Standing out from the crowd can do wonders in the right industry.
Be Your Own Online Curator
When it comes to the Internet “Do a search engine audit”, insists Leslie. “knowledge is power, but ignorance is not bliss!”
Up Your Profile
Want to make your LinkedIn page more enticing to employers? The site’s very own Career Expert, Nicole Williams, shares her Top 5 tips…
1. To get the full benefit of LinkedIn, you have to put yourself out there. Many people underestimate the importance of filling out an entire profile. That means it’s essential to list all past experience that may reflect your ability to execute and problem-solve, even if you find it irrelevant. Your profile is 12 times more likely to be viewed if you list a past experience.
2. If you include only your most recent work experience, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Be sure to fill out our profile with all of your past experience and relevant skills.
3. Your LinkedIn profile should be the opposite of your CV, which is where you typically only list your most recent work experience. Hiring managers will perform searches for people with 10 years of experience, but if your profile doesn’t include information that far back, you could be missing out.
4. Learn how to customize the URL for your public profile. It makes you searchable.