If you’re looking for a new job, chances are that you’ve already got a few references in mind that you know you can count on to give you a glowing review when the time comes. But what if I told you that sometimes you don’t get to choose your references? And no, I’m not joking!
Starting to panic? You shouldn’t… at least not yet anyway! Let me explain… When it comes to hiring new employees, employers make lots of checks on applicants, and, as I’ve explained before, one of these checks includes browsing candidates’ social media profiles on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
While that’s not new news as such, you might be surprised to learn that simply looking at your activity is only half the story. What do I mean? Well, in addition to looking at what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to on these platforms, employers are also considering who you’re connected to and if you have any connections/followers in common.
Why? Well because if you do have any mutual connections, the employer might be tempted to ask these connections how they know you and what their initial impressions of you are. OK, now’s the time to panic! Just kidding.
While not every employer does this, some definitely do – and in these situations, the employer will probably listen carefully to what their connection has to say about the candidate. That said, if the feedback is less complimentary, the employer might be tempted to discard a potential candidate altogether.
So, what should you do to ensure a reference from a non-preferred contact doesn’t cost you the job?
1. Be Professional
Whatever role you work in and whoever you come across, it’s always important to be professional and polite – even if someone’s desperately trying to cram their latest product down your neck on every platform going! Even if something doesn’t work out with a potential client or you feel you’ve been screwed over by someone, try to keep calm and think twice before posting or replying to someone – because, as we’ve just explained, it could come back to bite you at a time when you’d least expect it.
2. Think Twice Before Making A Connection
Yes, yes – when it comes to job seeking, it’s all about having a big network and making the most of it. But as we’ve just mentioned, you don’t know when this connection might be called into question, so if you’ve had a run-in with someone before and you suddenly get a LinkedIn connection from them, you might want to think twice before hitting that ‘Accept’ button. Remember, if the employer doesn’t know that you know that person, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ask them for a reference.
3. Tighten Up Your Network
Have a look through your LinkedIn connections. If you spot any connections who would be less than complimentary about you if given the opportunity, it might be time to hit that ‘delete’ button. Yes, it may seem cruel – but would you rather lose them as a connection or keep them and have the worry that they might cost you a job opportunity later down the line?
As I said before, not every employer will go down the route of checking their connections against yours and asking for references – but some will – so it’s important to keep this in mind when building your network and applying for jobs in the future.
Of course, you have to ensure you have the technical qualifications for the job you are seeking, but you also want to ensure you will fit in with the culture. After all, you spend approximately a third of your waking hours at work, so you want it to be a place where you are comfortable spending time. Here are some questions to ask during your interview to help ensure you’ll feel at home.
1. What’s your employee attrition rate?
Okay, you don’t have to ask this straight-up, but you can allude to it through questions like, “How long have you worked here? Have most of your colleagues been here that long as well?” If there is high turnover, it’s likely that there are problems with their culture. Office drama between colleagues, a lack of voice, bad management, etc. can all contribute to making people leave the company quickly. And a place where people are constantly trying to exit is not one you want to enter.
2. How often are new ideas pitched and discussed in your office?
With this question, you can find out the level of input you’d be able to make depending on your level or rank within the company. Can you, as a marketer, sit in on a product meeting? Can you provide input on marketing issues?
One quick way to discover how collaborative an environment is, is to see how your interviewer answers the “ideas” question. And it’s a much more pointed way to learn the truth than by asking “How team oriented are you?”
3. What position did you have when you first joined? How have you grown?
If growth and new opportunities are what you’re after, make sure you don’t end up at a dead-end job. If you want the chance to move up and take on new responsibilities, this is your chance to ensure you’re not looking for yet another new job a year or two down the road.
4. How do you measure success in your office?
Are metrics focused on time spent in the office or results achieved? This could be a tough one to answer but could give you insight into the degree of freedom offered as well as the challenges and responsibilities available.
5. What is your review process like?
How often do reviews occur? Does only your superior conduct the review or do they solicit feedback from peers and others? What about weekly or monthly 1 on 1 meetings with your supervisor? It’s a good idea to understand what the review process is and how you can solicit and provide feedback.
What other aspects of company culture and office behavior are important to you? Most companies that care about culture will give you clues about it on their site. For example, some company websites include a blog about their values. A quick search before the interview should give you all the clues you need to build personalized company culture interview questions.
This is your chance to show them that you’ve invested the time to really get to know them and that you’re excited to learn more! What does it mean when they say they “value change”? What’s their motivation behind team outings?
At the end of the day, it’s about getting to know yourself and what you want out of a job. What will make you happy even after the honeymoon phase is over? If you’re able to answer that, then you’re already halfway there to finding a company that’s the right culture match for you!
LinkedIn is the largest professional social media platform. It’s a great way to stay in touch with colleagues past and present, as well as a terrific place to look for that next gig. However, LinkedIn is definitely all about business and is not the place to post your “Red Solo Cup” pictures.
Like most professional groups, LinkedIn has an understood etiquette that members should follow. Not following it can get you ostracized from the group. Here are some of our top tips for making sure you remain in good standing.
1. LinkedIn isn’t a popularity contest.
LinkedIn is about building your professional network. Be purposeful in how you connect with people. Don’t just randomly connect with people that you have no affiliation. Always be professional. If you ask someone to make an introduction for you, take the time to explain why you would like the introduction. Remember, your connection is putting their reputation on the line to make the introduction for you.
2. Don’t use InMail to spam other users.
No one likes spam. And if you are indiscriminately emailing people, you are spamming them. Sending out copy/paste InMail messages to your professional connections or fellow group members is the quickest way to sever relationships.
3. Don’t abuse your connections’ email addresses.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it happens over and over again – do not (I repeat: DO NOT) abuse the email addresses of your LinkedIn connections by subscribing them to your newsletter or signing them up for whatever it is you’re trying to sell… unless you want to make yourself appear downright inconsiderate and tacky. If that’s your goal, then by all means – spam away.
4. Don’t treat LinkedIn like Facebook.
This should be obvious: don’t post anything on LinkedIn that you wouldn’t put in a cover letter to your future boss. Unfortunately, there are an alarming number of people on LinkedIn who use inappropriate pictures as their head shot. Leave the bar pics, bikini shots, and pics of you cuddling your newborn or pet cat for Facebook. When in doubt, have a friend take a head shot of you dressed professionally and standing in front of a solid background. Oh, and for heaven’s sake, use your legal name – not your unprofessional nickname.
5. Don’t treat LinkedIn like Match.com.
Newsflash: LinkedIn is NOT a dating service and using the site to hound people for dates is not OK. An alarming number of people have indicated they’ve have been propositioned on LinkedIn. There are plenty of dating sites on the internet – and LinkedIn is not one of them.
6. Don’t abuse recommendations.
Would you put down someone you’ve never met as a personal reference on a job application? I have had people I’ve never met (never even heard of!) ask me for a recommendation. Too often people solicit everyone they’ve ever encountered for recommendations. A good rule of thumb is this: if you wouldn’t put someone down as a reference on a job application, you probably shouldn’t ask them for a LinkedIn recommendation.
With a little common sense and forethought, you can use LinkedIn to promote your personal brand and help you advance your career. Just remember to treat it professionally and don’t publish anything that you wouldn’t put on your resume. With that as your guideline you are sure to keep in everyone’s good graces.
What exactly is a headhunter? A headhunter either works for the company (usually called a recruiter) or a headhunter works for themselves on a commission basis recruiting specifically requested types of employees for a company. Some facts about headhunters:
UniversalClass.com’s definition of a career coach is “a person who is committed to helping clients find their own success.” A career coach is much like a traditional coach: someone who takes the time to give the client the tools needed to succeed, but then stands on the sidelines to watch how the person uses those tools and cheer them on.
A career coach will help you with the basics such as resumes and cover letters, but they go deeper with you. They’ll ask you why you want to change jobs, what work you are looking for, what you want to achieve in your work life, and what you’ve done so far in your job search. As your coach, they will talk to you about the things you can do to be successful in your job search, and they will tell you what you need to stop or avoid doing as well. Good coaches are honest and direct. If, in their opinion, you are not qualified for a position you want to apply for, they’ll tell you, tell you why, and work with you to determine the qualifications you need.
A coach will help you practice interviews, help you write and critique your “elevator speech,” and coach you through your first efforts at networking. A career coach will teach you how, not do it for you.
When should you think about hiring a career coach?
The big difference between a career coach and a headhunter is that a headhunter will just find you a job, and a career coach will help you decide what kind of work you really want and then work with you until you find it. It takes time to find the right job. It takes patience as well as work on your part. Making an informed choice on who to ask for help is an important step in the right direction.
Networking as a job seeker is about making genuine contacts and building long term relationships with other people who can either help you find a job directly or connect you with others who can.
There are two types of networking: Informal - this can be done almost anytime you talk to someone, casually mentioning that you are looking for a job can be a great conversation starter - and Formal - this involves going to business specific social events, meetings, or associations. Often there are others there who are also networking. If you think you will have trouble “stepping out there” during face-to-face conversations, you can always start your formal networking online via job forums and career networking websites as well as social media platforms. The key to successful networking is to make sure that you treat all your networking contacts with genuine appreciation and professional respect.
In person, face-to-face networking can be hard to begin with. Start slow, schedule at least two or three events a month, and find groups that you want to join and build relationships through the monthly meetings. Most hiring managers will look at the resume of someone who has been referred long before one that comes in among the big blob of online applicants. That is why developing relationships is so important.
Networking is a two-way street. It’s important that you make yourself available as a potential resource for other network members when they are looking for a job or they ask you for help. Give help at least four times as much as you get help.
How do you start a conversation? How do you get the information about yourself across to someone before their eyes glaze over and they start nodding uncomfortably? Start by saying “Hello, my name is…………. How are you today?” You’ll always get an answer. Another good question is “What brings you here today?” If they say, “networking because I am looking for a job,” Bingo! A fellow sufferer, and you can go from there! People you meet should remember you and what you do, the best way to achieve this in a short amount of time is to have an “elevator speech” ready.
An “elevator speech” is a 30 second commercial selling yourself. Think about introducing yourself to someone you see in the elevator - how much time do you have to talk before the door opens? You should prepare one as soon as you decide to go job-hunting. Short and sweet, it very briefly describes who you are, what you do, and if you are introducing yourself to a potential employer, why you are the perfect candidate. Practice it in front of someone who will give you genuine feedback, then practice until it sounds natural!
Lou Adler, CEO of the Adler Group, says that 85% of critical jobs are filled via networking of some sort. Networking starts building relationships and being different. Considering that most jobs come through personal connections, building your network should be a high priority on and off the job search.
Networking takes time and relationships won’t develop overnight, so be patient. By making a point of consistently meeting new people, you will learn from others about your industry, profession, and the companies you’re interested in.
In this Internet age, it’s smart to have an online presence and there are easy – and safe – ways to do it.
One of the best sites is LinkedIn with more than 16 million users in the U.S. You can create a free professional profile where you control the content. Then your name and a link to your profile are indexed on the search engines like Google, Yahoo and others. And because it’s known as a professional networking tool – unlike online job boards – you don’t have to worry that your boss will assume you’re job searching if or when they find your profile there. EBR has prepared an easy to follow guide for new LinkedIn users. Email us at info@EBRhrexperts.com for a free copy of our LinkedIn guide and to receive our newsletter.
LinkedIn is not the only site you should employ. Create a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ that shows your accomplishments, where your strengths are, and what you can offer future employers.
Do you already have a Facebook or other social media page? Take a critical look at them. With the high costs of recruiting, training and retaining top talent – from entry level to senior executives – employers must be cautious about who they’re hiring. If a recruiter is considering two college seniors for the same position and she comes across an online profile for one of them that brags about rowdy parties and drunken escapades, she might think twice about that person – and will likely lean more toward the candidate who has a clean online profile – or none at all.
If there’s information on your personal webpage that you wouldn’t want your current or future boss to see, then change it and be choosy about who is allowed to post to your page in order to keep out questionable content. If you Google yourself and find content you don’t like but can’t delete or change, be prepared to explain if asked.
Establishing your social media isn’t just about updating your Facebook page. Most companies have a website of some kind these days. Look up and like the pages of the companies you are interested in. Many companies post their job openings on their websites, so make a habit of checking them every two or three days. Subscribe to Google Alerts so you can stay abreast of what’s happening with them and in the fields you are interested in. LinkedIn has groups you can join that focus on different career fields, find some that seem interesting to you and ask to join. And after you join, don’t just stalk around the edges of the group!
Have a plan for establishing your social media presence: Create a relevant profile, actively network with others online, become known as a resource - answer questions, offer info about other relevant sites - give 4 times more than you get. It is not appropriate to ask these group members for a job, however. If you get info about an opening, great, but don’t ask and put them on the spot.
As well as LinkedIn, we recommend Indeed because it actively pulls job postings from other sites, which can give you an even broader overview of possibilities.
Successful job searches can take a while and they are work. The time you spend creating and maintaining your social media presence will be worthwhile and will bear fruit but limit your time on the computer. Job searching requires “in person” networking in addition to having an online presence. Don’t spend so much time online that you shut yourself off from the real world.
A successful job search should begin with a clear road map. Some things you should consider before you start thinking about what kind of job you’re going to look for: Where do you want to be? Do you like where you live now, would you rather live someplace else? Would you like to travel in your job? Should you try to get a job located in an area where you can pursue further education, or a favorite activity? Do you want to work in a stable, routine environment or are you drawn to being involved in a start up?