It is appears that the job situation is improving, albeit slowly. This means that there are a number of job opportunities available for those looking for new jobs. And, thanks to technology, it is now possible to find jobs with a little help from the Internet. And it’s not all submitting resumes to job search sites. Many people malign Twitter and Facebook, but they might actually be able to help you get a job. And, of course, networking still works offline as well.
Build Your Professional Network
Here are some networking tips that can help you grow your professional network, help others, and potentially find a new job.
Build Your Personal Brand
When you are looking for a new job, you are selling a brand. When you network offline, you want to present a professional image. The same is true of your online efforts. Create profiles that are consistent across social media that you are using for professional purposes. A LinkedIn profile is usually a good idea for job seekers, and having a Twitter account can’t hurt, as long as you try to be useful. What you do with Facebook is up to you, but know that, even if you don’t think of Facebook as part of your professional brand, some potential employers will look. Take down questionable pictures, or at least make sure your privacy settings are such that such pictures are not public.
You want to prepare the ground by make sure that your online profiles highlight your good qualities, and what you can do. Don’t make your profiles long, but do make them consistent and relevant.
Use Technology to Increase Your Reach
There are many ways you can leverage technology to grow your influence and reach. This can include becoming a thought leader by starting an industry website, becoming a regular in popular online forums, joining LinkedIn Groups and helping others, sharing helpful tips on social media platforms, and more. Notice that all of these focus on helping others. The more you help others, the more you will be recognized in your industry as someone people should know, and potentially want to work with, or hire.
You can also use technology to create a digital or video resume. This can make it easier for potential employers to find you online.
Look for People, Not for Jobs
Instead of trying to find a specific job, consider looking for specific people. Think about the types of companies you want to work for, and the kinds of things you want to do. You can perform a search for people who work for a company of interest to you, and contact them through social media. Find them on Twitter, LinkedIn (a great choice) or some other social media site. Make sure you understand, though, how this person prefers to be contacted. While making professional connections on LinkedIn is often an acceptable way to approach someone you don’t know, you should be sure to make LinkedIn connections the right way. Also keep in mind that many people prefer not to keep their work and private life separate, and do not appreciate having their Facebook space invaded by work matters.
Offline, this works as well. If there is a place you would like to work, make an appointment to visit with some of the key people. You don’t have to ask for a job up front, but you can make connections and get the lay of the land. Keep in touch, and, later, when the opportunity arises, you’ll already have an in.
Follow Through with Your New Connections
Make sure to follow through. If someone provides you with a referral, make sure that you follow through quickly. Also, if you have promised to provide something by a certain time, make sure that you do. Prove that you are reliable — the kind of person that others want to work with.
Sincerity is important when networking, as is helping others. You are looking for help from others, so you should be prepared to help others. If you can introduce people who might work out for each other, do so. You can also answer questions and mentor. No, you shouldn’t give away everything for free, but you can help as you expect to be helped. Besides, if you are a powerful resource for others, potential employers will eventually notice.
How to Work a Job Fair
With the employment picture still somewhat bleak, many of us are brushing up on our job hunting skills, updating our resumes, and preparing for job fairs. Indeed, job and career fairs are places where you can go to look for work, as well as make connections and do a little networking. However, with the job market what it is, and with many qualified candidates jockeying for position, you will have to be prepared to make the right impression at the job fair.
Before You Go to a Job Fair
It’s best to be prepared for a job or career fair. Before you go, prepare yourself to impress, and have an idea of what companies you want to talk to. As get ready to go, consider taking these actions:
Know who will be there: You can usually find a list of employers attending a career fair. Peruse this list, and identify companies you are most interested in working for. Do some research so that you know what openings are available in the company, what solutions they may need, and the goals the company has. Figure out how you might fit in.
Be ready to sell yourself: Before you go, work on your personal statement (your elevator pitch). Know what you will say about yourself, your skills and what you can bring to the company.
Prepare your resume: Update your resume, and make sure that it highlights the skills you want it to. You might also prepare targeted cover letters addressed to specific companies. You can leave these documents with recruiters at the job fair. Try to tailor your information to company needs. It might mean that you label each resume with a sticky note so that it goes to the right recruiter.
Practice open-ended questions: You can demonstrate your knowledge by asking good questions. Think of open-ended questions to ask at the career fair. You can ask about tips for getting hired at the company, or ask about a position you are interested in. Also, be prepared to ask about what the recruiter looks for an employee. It is important to note that asking about salary and benefits is probably not the best idea at a career fair.
Attending the Career Fair
When you attend a job fair, you want to look the part. Make sure that you are well groomed, and that you are dressed appropriately. While you may not want to go in full business attire, business casual is a must. You would do well to ask the job fair sponsor for information about the dress code so that you are prepared to impress.
While at the job fair, consider networking with other job seekers. Try not to treat them as competition; you never know when a contact made at a job fair can turn into a job offer down the road. Now is a good time to network with new people. You should also show patience. Lines are common, and you should be patient as you wait. Respect the privacy of others’ at the fair. Standing in line offers you a good chance to network.
When speaking with recruiters, be brief. Ask about items of interest, and share your personal statement. Leave a business card, or have your contact information prominent on your resume. Ask for the recruiters contact information, and ask if you can follow up in a few days. Consider sending a thank you email, and expressing your appreciation for the time the recruiter took to speak with you.
Do you have any other networking tips, or tips for successfully working a job fair?