Don’t Suffer from Job Application Phobia – FAQ

I was on Twitter the other day and a young lady commented, “Having to fill out the job application makes you not want the d*mn job!” It was at that moment that I knew it was time to write this article as I totally agreed with her and felt her pain.  During your job search, you will probably fill out several LONNNNNNG online applications.  It can be a very frustrating and tedious process; however, you needn’t suffer from job application phobia.  While each application is different, there are some general guidelines that can be used across the board.  I hope my responses to these FAQs help get you through the process while keeping your sanity!

1) Why are job applications so long and detailed?

Sometimes I secretly think they make them so long to see if you actually really want the job and want to go through and answer all their questions!!  But seriously, filling out the job application is very important and should not be minimized as employers use this as a screening device. If they see a half-completed application, they may assume that the person is not really that serious about the job and you will most likely be skipped over for the interview. Employers have carefully designed their questions to get the information they need to determine if you are a good fit.  The saying is true: “Resumes tell the employers what YOU want them to know and job applications tell them what THEY want to know.”  So be prepared to spend 30 minutes to an hour per job application.  In case no one has told you, looking for a job IS a job!

2) Do I have to fill out the entire application?

No you don’t, but keep in mind that might cost you the chance to interview.  If you want to proceed to the next step, you definitely have to fill out at least the required fields.

3) Should I have my resume and cover letter prepared beforehand? 

YES!! This will save you a lot of time.  Having your cover letter and resume already prepared means all you have to do is upload it or copy and paste it.  Some applications require a cover letter and some don’t, but it is better to have it prepared beforehand then to have to stop in the middle of the process and develop one.

4) What information do I need regarding previous/current jobs?

Most applications want information on the last 3 – 4 jobs you’ve had.  So it would be a good idea right now while you’re thinking about it to make a list of pertinent information for those jobs.  You know they are going to ask for this information so having it already written down BEFOREHAND will save you so much agony!!!  You should have the following information:   A) company name and address, B) supervisor’s name, title, and phone number, C) hire date and end date, D) starting and ending salary, E) your job title and accomplishments and F) reason why you left that job.  Basically, your success in filling out applications will be determined largely by how prepared you are.

5) What if I worked for a company that no longer exists or my supervisor no longer works there?

Just give the most recent contact information that you had for the company and/or supervisor.  You can explain in an interview that the company shut down or your supervisor left.  If just your particular location doesn’t exist anymore, give the information for the main office or headquarters. Human Resources should be able to verify the information employers need.

6) Should I submit my references at the same time as my application?

If you are given the option to include references, I would go ahead and submit them.  Now remember, your references should be 3 people whom you’ve had a professional relationship with for about a year.  That could be a supervisor, co-worker, professor, or someone you’ve worked with in a volunteer capacity – not family or friends.  Your references should be up-to-date and not go back to someone you had a relationship with more than 3 years ago, but there may be some exceptions.  I normally update my references every 6 months whether I am looking for a job or not.  That way when the time comes I already have the people and information I need.  Oh yeah, be sure to give your references a copy of your resume and give them a ‘heads up’ if an employer will be calling them about you.

7) Why do they ask you your graduation date from high school and/or college?

My guess would be to try to figure out your age.  Most people graduate high school at 17 or 18 and college at 21 or 22.  So depending on the year of your graduation, they can add it up and figure how old you are.  They may use your age to discriminate against you if they feel that you are too old or too young. I only fill in the graduate date if it is mandatory.  (If you haven’t actually graduated yet, you can put the month and year that you plan to graduate.)

8) What should I put as my reason for leaving a job if I was fired?

You can write “would like to discuss in the interview.” That way you can explain the circumstances surrounding your termination.  Now you can’t do this for every job, but if there is one job that you feel needs to be explained in person, then it is acceptable.  I was a hiring manager for a number of years and when I saw that someone wanted to discuss in the interview their reason for leaving a job, that did not stop me from calling them.  (Tip:  Make sure when you discuss it in the interview, you discuss it positively.  See my blog:  “How Do I Talk About Being Fired In an Interview?”)

9) What should I put when asked about desired salary?

Always give a range if you can such as $50,000 – $55,000/year or $20.00 – $25.00/hour based on research you have done in your field or what was mentioned in the job description. Having a range gives you more flexibility when it’s time to negotiate.

10) Is it okay to put “see resume” anywhere on the application?

Absolutely not!!  More than likely you can just copy and paste the information directly from your resume.  Don’t be lazy!!  Remember, applications are part of your first impression.

11) What should I put if an answer is required but the question doesn’t pertain to me? 

You should write “NA”  or “Not Applicable.”

12) Is it okay to say that I don’t want my current boss to be contacted?

That is perfectly fine. I always say that I don’t want my current boss to be contacted because I don’t want them to know that I am looking for a job.  The only exception was when I was transferring to another team/location within my same company.

13) Do I have to answer questions regarding ethnicity, sex, veteran or disability status?

No, you don’t have to answer these questions.  Ideally, these questions are asked to ensure fair hiring practices of all genders and ethnic groups.  As a hiring manager I had to submit a form monthly to my corporate office detailing how many male, female, Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, etc. applicants I had.  This was to ensure I was giving everyone a fair chance and wasn’t just hiring people who looked like me (African-American women).

I have seen an increase in applications wanting to know if you are a veteran.  My personal belief is that due to reports in recent years that veterans are not able to find jobs once they return home, companies have been given incentives to hire them.  As far as the disability question, it should be done to assess what additional assistance would be necessary for disabled candidates to be able to perform the same job as everyone else.

Now of course, all of the above information could be used to discriminate against you.  That’s why I said you don’t have to disclose that information and you can simply select ‘I prefer not to answer.’

14) Do I have to give my social security and driver’s license numbers?

Only if it is mandatory.  Other than that, you can leave it blank or put “will provide later.”  This information really shouldn’t be needed until the background check is done and you can provide it at that time.

15) What does the fine print on applications really mean?

This is the part normally at the end of the application and you should definitely read it carefully.  Most of the time it is regarding the truthfulness of your responses and confirming you didn’t knowingly give false information.  Some applications may have statements authorizing them to do a background, employment, and credit check.  So again, make sure you read the entire application and are in agreement with what you are submitting.

16) Is it okay to email my resume and cover letter to someone at the company AND submit an application?

You always want to be mindful of the directions in the job description.  If it says “No emails or phone calls,” then make sure you follow instructions.  Of course, if you personally know someone who works at the company and want them to pass your resume/cover letter along to the hiring manager, that is okay.  Just make sure you always submit the application regardless because there are legal ramifications regarding companies not following the proper hiring procedures.

17) How long does it take to hear something after I have submitted my application?

That depends.  It could be 3 – 4 days up to 3 – 4 weeks or more.  How long it takes could be determined by how many applications they get, how soon they are looking to fill the position, how busy they are or when Human Resources gives them the green light to start setting up interviews.

BONUS TIP:

PROOFREAD! PROOFREAD! PROOFREAD!  Most applications give you the opportunity to proofread before submitting.  It is very important that you take the time to do this so that you don’t have any mistakes or misspelled words. Also don’t use abbreviations.

 

10 Tips to Getting a Job Long Distance

There used to be a time some years ago when employers would readily hire candidates from out-of-state.  Not saying that they don’t still do it, but I believe they don’t do it as much.  Now, it is still possible to relocate to another city, but you must have a strategy and let employers know your value.  In other words, why should they hire you over someone else who may be local?  They are probably thinking it will take you longer to actually be able to start the job and you may require relocation assistance and these wouldn’t be issues for a local candidate.

I have relocated twice in my career.  The first time I relocated from Missouri to Dallas and the second time was from Alabama to Dallas.  (Yes, I relocated to Dallas twice!)  Since I have been asked about this subject a lot recently, I thought I would share some of the bumps and bruises I encountered when relocating and give you tips to get around them, which should make your transition smoother.

1) START EARLY IN YOUR JOB SEARCH

You should start your job search 6 – 9 months in advance to give yourself plenty of time to plan.  Since you will be relocating there are a lot more things to consider than if you were just getting a job across town.  Starting early gives you time to save your money for the actual move.  You will also need to use your vacation/sick/comp time sparingly as you may need this time to make multiple trips to your desired location for interviews and house hunting, etc.

2) TAKE YOUR ADDRESS OFF YOUR RESUME

This is to level the playing field so employers won’t automatically discriminate against you because you are not local.  Yes, your phone number will still be there, but employers know people have cell phone numbers from all over so this doesn’t necessarily give away that you live somewhere else.

3) LOOK AT JOB WEBSITES SPECIFICALLY FOR YOUR TARGETED AREA

So, if you wanted to relocate to Dallas you would look at  ‘jobsindallas.com’ or ‘dallasnews.com’ or ‘dallasjobsite.com.’  You can also simply Google the job you are looking for in the city you are looking to move to.  For example, ‘Engineering Jobs Dallas, TX.’  You may be surprised at the results and discover more companies that hire for your position than you think.  It also might not be a bad idea to work with a head hunter/recruiter in the area.

4) PICK 10 COMPANIES YOU’D LIKE TO WORK FOR

You will have to do some research because you MUST target your job search.  If not, it may take longer for you to find a job.  Pick 10 companies you are interested in working for.  Once you have identified those companies, submit your resume whether they have a job opening or not.  60 – 80% of jobs are never advertised.  They may not have an opening now, but they may once they receive YOUR resume.  Once they see your resume, they may realize that they need someone like you at their company.  Remember, you want to relocate so you have to BE BOLD!!

5) USE LINKEDIN TO CONNECT WITH EMPLOYERS

Go to the ‘People’ tab on LinkedIn and do an advanced search.  Enter the zip code of your desired location and select the industry to find employers.   You can also look for those who  have a certain title and work for a certain company…particularly the 10 companies you identified.  Be sure to personalize your invitation request when you connect with these employers.  Flattery still works!  You can say something like ‘Hi Ms. Smith, I was very impressed with your profile and I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’

That’s it…..nothing more…..at first.  You must have a very subtle approach.  After they have accepted your connection, wait about 2 weeks and then mention that you are trying to get some tips on the industry.  Ask if they could give you some advice and perhaps some feedback on your resume.  BINGO!!  You get your resume in front of an employer.  You will just have to feel them out after that to determine your next steps – informational interview, asking to pass your resume on to someone else, chatting with you on the phone, recommending job websites, etc.  Under no circumstances do you ever start off by saying “I WANT A JOB WITH YOUR COMPANY!”

Also, join groups on LinkedIn for your desired industry and location.  If you want a teaching job in Dallas, you would join ‘Educators Dallas-Ft Worth.’  This will connect you to more employers and also other professionals in your industry who may be able to give you some insight.   People are nicer than you think but DO NOT STALK THEM!!

6) CHANGE YOUR HEADLINE ON LINKEDIN

This is the part immediately under your name on your profile and it is a way to market yourself.  You want to definitely showcase your 3 areas of expertise so employers can find you.  You can say “Human Resources professional seeking opportunities in Recruiting, Employee Relations, or Workforce Planning.”  Now be careful…..because your current boss may be watching!  So if you think that might be the case change “seeking opportunities” to “with expertise.”  This will at least let an employer know what your experience is in.

Also in the Summary section on LinkedIn you can actually say you are looking to relocate.

7) SET UP A SKYPE ACCOUNT

Do this if you haven’t done so already.  This will come in handy for your interview and again level the playing field.  And of course, practice answering interview questions on Skype (see my blog “How to Prepare for a Phone/Skype Interview”).

8) WRITE TARGETED COVER LETTERS

Your cover letter is your time to make a personal connection with the reader.  This is where you can mention that you will be relocating in the near future.  If you are willing to pay for your own relocation, then say that as well.  You can mention that you will be in the area soon and you would love the opportunity to interview (see the next tip).  Most importantly, let them know that you are available for a traditional, phone, or Skype interview.

9) PLAN A TRIP TO DESIRED LOCATION

This is probably the most strategic thing you should do if you want to relocate.  Plan a trip during the work week so you can do interviews – informational and traditional – whether you have any real job prospects or not.  You have to show employers that you are serious about moving and have to make interviewing you convenient for them.  Remember, you are at a slight disadvantage than local candidates by being out of town.  So you have to take the extra step.   When you connect with these employers (Tip #5), try to set up an informational interview FACE TO FACE.  The whole point really is to turn the informational interviews into real interviews, so you should treat them as such and be prepared.

(I did this and it works! I had sort of been getting the run around by an employer I really wanted to work for.  I’d had numerous phone conversations with this employer and he seemed to like me but was hesitant to make me an official job offer.  So, I planned a 3 day trip to Dallas and left him a message letting him know when I would be in town and I would love to stop by just to chat with him in person.  Once I made it to Dallas, I called him again and he told me to meet him for lunch.  I did and the next day he officially made me a job offer!   I would like to believe my assertiveness had something to do with it.)

10) DO RESEARCH ON SALARY / COST OF LIVING

Now, I didn’t do everything perfect on my first relocation to Dallas.  This is where I messed up because I didn’t quite realize the difference in the cost of living.  So consequently, I didn’t factor that into my salary negotiation.  I now know how important it is so make sure you have done the appropriate research to know the difference.  You can use www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator to figure out the difference between your current city and your desired city.

So there you have it….ways you can position yourself to get a job long distance.  As I mentioned before, it’s not impossible but you do have to be strategic and have a definite plan of action.  These tips worked for me and I’m sure they will work for you as well.

Happy Relocating!!

8 Things to Consider When You DON’T Get the Job

There will be times when you seem to do all the right things and STILL don’t get the job.  Maybe there are some mistakes you are making that you are not aware of, or honestly, it may not really have anything to do with you at all.  Employers sometimes post jobs and go through the interview process even though they already know they are going to promote someone within the company.  Depending on their company guidelines, they may have to post jobs anywhere from 14 – 60 days just to give others a chance to apply.  At any rate, there will be a time when you don’t get a job.  Here are some tips to help you assess the situation:

1.  LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

I know it’s disappointing but it’s not the end of the world.  You didn’t get the job, but you did get an interview which means you were qualified.  Don’t start doubting yourself and your skills.   Think of it as a learning experience.  Every time you interview you get the chance to practice selling yourself, get feedback on your resume and find out what employers in your industry are looking for.  You are just getting more prepared for your next interview.

2.  SEND A THANK YOU TO THE EMPLOYER

Even though you did not get the job, you still want to be professional.   The appropriate thing to do is thank the employer for the opportunity to interview and ask that they keep you in mind for future opportunities.  You never know……something could open up in 3 months or that employer could refer you to someone in his network.   I would imagine most employers don’t get a thank you from candidates that they did not hire, so sending one could prove very favorable for you.  Remember to always be professional – whether you feel like it or not.

3. GET FEEDBACK FROM THE EMPLOYER

Either call or email the employer and ask them for feedback.   You want to know what you can do to improve your interviewing or negotiating skills.  This is strictly for your professional growth – not to ask them to reconsider their decision.  Keep in mind, some employers will give you honest feedback and some won’t, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.

4.  CONNECT WITH THE EMPLOYER ON LINKEDIN

AFTER you have learned that you definitely did not get the job, then you can connect on LinkedIn.  Don’t connect while you are still waiting to hear back.  It may come across as too pushy or make the employer uncomfortable while they are trying to make a decision.  Connecting with them on LinkedIn is a way to stay in touch with the employer as sometimes they post job openings to their network.  Also, every time you post something or update your own profile you show up on their homepage as well and it reminds them of who you are and what you do.

5. EVALUATE THE PROCESS

After you have gotten feedback from the employer, you really should do a self-assessment to see what you could have done better.  Did you match the style of the interviewer?  Were you likeable? Did you have SPECIFIC answers to questions?  Did you follow up to the interview in a timely manner?  Were you on time and dressed professionally?  Did you ask questions in the interview?  Did you negotiate your salary appropriately? Did you follow ALL the instructions you were given during and after the interview?  Was there something that came up in your background check that could have prevented them from hiring you?  Did your references/previous employers say good things about you?

6. PRACTICE INTERVIEWING

I strongly suggest you practice answering interview questions EACH and EVERY TIME you have an interview.  Even the most seasoned professional should practice answering questions so that it comes across natural and addresses the employer’s needs.  Interviewing is not just simply rattling off answers to questions – you MUST have a conversation with the employer and have SPECIFIC examples of your experience.  Every time you practice you will come across more polished.

7.  REASSESS YOUR JOB SEARCH

You want to make sure you are applying for jobs that adequately fit your skill set, interests and career goals.  This will keep you from getting to the interview and realizing that the job is not a good fit for you.  Your job search should be targeted.   It really is a waste of time to apply for every job you come across.

8.  KEEP GOING

The best way to get over a job that you didn’t get is to keep applying for more jobs.  You shouldn’t suspend your job search until you have actually landed a job…..and there is a job out there with YOUR name on it.  So keep going!!! You didn’t get the job this time, but I am confident you will nail it the next time!

The 8 Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make

1)  Not Catering Resume | Cover Letter to EACH Job

Yes, this is time consuming but very necessary.  If you have 1 resume and cover letter that you send out to 25 jobs you have just wasted your time.  Employers are telling you exactly what they are looking for in the job description, so use that as your “cheat sheet” and cater your resume/cover letter accordingly.  Plus employers want to feel like you want to work specifically for them.  The cover letter is where you can make a personal connection with the reader and show the research you have done on the company.  You should mention accomplishments on your resume that directly relate to the job description.

2) Not Networking and Making Connections

60% – 80% of jobs are never advertised so if you are not networking to access the “hidden market” you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.  You should network before you really need to and have job prospects before you need them.  You never know who you might meet now that may be able to help you in the near future.  You should also have business cards with you at all times so those you meet will be able to contact you in the future.  When you meet someone connect with them on LinkedIn within 24 hours while they still remember you.  Be sure to personalize your invitation to include when and how you met.

3) Sticking to Traditional Methods

The days are long gone where you can just see a job online and apply and wait for the phone to ring.  That alone does not guarantee you a call for an interview.  Just like you are looking on the internet for a job so is everyone else.  You have to think of non-traditional methods that will set you apart from other candidates.  Some of those methods would be asking for an informational interview or connecting with employers first on LinkedIn; then very subtly asking them for tips on breaking into your desired industry or asking them to review your resume.  You can also mail your resume to an employer using snail mail.  Everyone likes to receive something in the mail so that will get the employer’s attention.  Also, sending a video resume, which is  your 1 -2 minute commercial, is a definite way to make yourself stand out.  You can send it to an employer right along with your regular resume.  Creating a “brand” on social media is almost necessary these days no matter what your industry is.  If you position yourself correctly you can let the job/employer find YOU.

4) Disqualifying Yourself on Social Media

Now, while it is important to create a “brand” on social media, it is equally as important to do it the correct way.  93% of employers nationwide use social media for reasons to hire or not hire a candidate.  Because they receive so many applicants, employers will Google your name and look you up online for reasons to eliminate you.  Those reasons might be inappropriate pictures, profanity, discriminating remarks, or negative comments about job/supervisor.  I would suggest you Google your name once month to see what an employer will see when they look you up.  If there is something out there that may raise a red flag, delete it.  Having more “professional” things like a LinkedIn profile, professional Twitter account, blog or portfolio will counteract anything negative that may be out there.

5) Not Marketing Yourself Appropriately

Your resume, cover letter, online presence and professionalism in person are how you market yourself.  They should all match and you should be the same on paper, online and in person.  If someone didn’t know you and only had to use your resume, cover letter and online presence to “judge” you or initially get an idea of who you are, what would your image be?  Think about your top 3 areas of expertise.  Does your brand match up with those 3 areas?

6) Poor E-mail Etiquette and Written Communication

I recently had someone whom I’d never met send me an e-mail like this….

             hey dena its michael, here is an updated resume…thank you so much for taking time out of your day and helping me with my resume!

This was all the e-mail said….nothing more.  So, I explained to this person that if I had been an employer I would have deleted it without replying.  An employer is very busy and receives numerous job inquiries so time is very critical.  They are assessing you in various aspects and you never know what will cause a red flag.  You should never send an e-mail like you would send a text message.  If you’re not getting any responses to your e-mail, it could be your e-mail etiquette.  You always want to be very professional and use correct grammar.  Address the employer by Mr./Ms. with their last name until they tell you it’s okay to call them by their first name.  You can’t say you have great written communication skills on your resume and have a poorly written e-mail or cover letter.

7) Not Answering Interview Questions Adequately

There are several types of interview questions – traditional, behavioral, hypothetical, etc.  You should be prepared to answer all of them and you MUST practice. Even the most seasoned job seeker should practice answering questions in a manner that comes across natural and conveys what he/she can do for the employer.  That should be your focus – letting employers know what you can do for them and how you can solve a problem or fill a need that they have.

Traditional questions generally relate directly to the job duties and are asked to understand your background and experience better.  Behavioral questions are asked to see how you would handle certain situations.  Have SPECIFIC examples prepared for these types of questions.  Hypothetical questions are asked to see how well you think on your feet and perhaps to see what reaction the question will get.

For tips on answering the various types of questions, read my other blogs, view my videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com/denabilbrew) or look up the various types of interview questions on Google.

8) Not Following Up

It is very important that you follow up as that could be the difference in whether you get the job or not.  You want to follow up to an interview or networking event immediately – preferably within 24 hours.  Send them additional information about you – LinkedIn profile, letters of recommendation, portfolio, etc.  Thanking the employer for his/her time is a nice gesture and proper etiquette.

 

How Do I Turn Down a Job?

The key is to be professional and put yourself in the employer’s shoes.  Remember, he has gone through a long, rigorous process and in the meantime that workload for the open position has gone undone in his office.  He has a void to fill and probably needs to fill it pretty quickly.  He most likely received 100+ resumes for the position, conducted 5 – 6 phone interviews and selected you and 2 others to come on site for an interview.  Out of all those potential candidates, he picked YOU.

So, it is very important that you do this professionally and don’t burn any bridges.  You never know, you may want to work for this employer or do business with them in the future.  Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1)       DO IT ASAP

You want to do it as soon as possible so the employer can extend the job offer to the #2 candidate.  Again, put yourself in the employer’s shoes.  You would appreciate a speedy response if it were you, so reply to them quickly.  Pick up the phone and call the employer as soon as you know you will not be accepting the job offer.

2)      THANK THEM FOR THE OFFER

You want to make sure you thank them for thinking enough of you to extend the offer even though you have decided not to take the job.  It’s just nice to be nice.

3)      BE HONEST

You don’t have to go into a lot of detail about why you are turning down the job, but you can let them know that you have accepted another job or just don’t feel that the job is the right one for you at this time.

4)      PUT IT IN WRITING

They extended the job offer to you in writing so when you turn the job down, put it in writing as well.  Putting it in writing after you have made the initial phone call is just being professional.  Also, they will have it on file if they need to give it to Human Resources.

HERE’S AN EXAMPLE:

Dear Mr. Jones:

Thank you for extending to me the opportunity to join your team as a Marketing Analyst.  While I am appreciative of your offer and admire the work that your company does, I do not feel that it is the best fit for me at this time.  I have accepted another job offer which I feel more closely meets my career goals.  Thanks again for the job offer and opportunity to meet your team and learn more about your company.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

5)      STAY CONNECTED

It is a good idea to connect with them on LinkedIn just to keep them in your network.  They may want to offer you a job in the future or you may want to apply for another job in the future.

Social Media & Your Job Search – How to Let the Job Find YOU

Social Media is everywhere.  Let’s face it…you can’t go too long without checking your Facebook page, tweeting on Twitter, pinning on Pinterest or looking up something on Google on your mobile phone.  This is the world we live in.  You can find whatever you need or practically whoever you are looking for through Social Media.  So why not use this to your advantage in your job search?

There used to be a time many years ago when job seekers had to actually “pound the pavement” to look for a job.  They would look through the newspaper to find openings and call the employer or go to the location in person to fill out an application and submit their resume.  In the 1990s the internet came and people could search for openings that way.  They would identify companies that they were interested in and submit their resume on the company website.  Then the new millennium introduced job boards where you could upload your resume and search for jobs all in one place.  Now, we have social media where you can basically let the job find you — if you use it correctly.

93% of employers say that they utilize social media in their recruiting efforts.  They use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a few others to find out additional information about candidates.  If they have several candidates to choose from they will use social media to decide who they will call for an interview.  They use these tools to find out the good and the not so good.  The benefit to employers is speed, transparency, authenticity and an overall view of candidates.  They are also looking for ways to “weed” candidates out such as unprofessional pictures, profanity and poor communication skills, discriminating comments based on race or sex, negative comments about employers and lying about qualifications.

Knowing this information you should be careful as to how you position yourself on the internet.  The truth of the matter is if you’re not using social media and an employer can’t find you, you may be viewed as out of touch and/or irrelevant.  Keep in mind, your “brand” should be the same no matter what medium you use.  If you have enough positive stuff out there the negative stuff will go down to the bottom of the pile and perhaps never be seen.  Here are some tips to help you use social media effectively.

1.  Google yourself at least once a month.  This will help you to see what an employer sees when they search for your name online (and they WILL search for you online). You may find some things out there that you didn’t even know existed.  When I googled my name a while back, I found an e-mail I posted to a Yahoo group back in 1996!  Thankfully it wasn’t anything that could harm me all these years later.

2. Delete anything that could raise any red flags.  You never know what might turn a potential employer off so don’t give them anything that might raise an eyebrow.  If you even think for a second that it might not be appropriate, it probably isn’t….so delete it!

3. Have only professional pictures that are accessible to the public.  Think carefully about what pictures you post.  Some pictures should be reserved for family and friends only.  You should think, “Is this an image that I want a potential employer to see?”

4. Don’t just use social media for personal purposes.  It is a great way to connect with potential employers and industry leaders.  You can follow companies and find out the latest happenings.  You can network with people in your industry and get some insight.  You may have to have a personal protected Twitter account for family and friends and a professional public Twitter account for networking.

5. Set up a profile on LinkedIn.  This is the #1 way to network these days and a great tool to meet potential employers.  I recently heard an employer say that if a candidate does not have a LinkedIn profile, she won’t even consider them for an interview!  Yikes!! Also, be sure you have 100% profile completeness.  You won’t be taken seriously with a profile that is half complete.  (Read my blog:  “LinkedIn 101:  10 Tips to a Superstar Profile“)

6.  Use social media to position yourself as an industry leader. You can write blogs. You can tweet helpful tidbits on Twitter.  You can join a conversation on a LinkedIn group.  Share your opinions and knowledge with others.  You never know who may like what you have to say.

7.  Develop a website or online portfolio.  This is a great way to include your experience and qualifications all in place.  It allows you to be creative and will enhance your resume and other traditional documents.  It ultimately gives an employer more insight into who you are.  Be sure to include the link to your website or portfolio on your resume, e-mail signature, and LinkedIn profile.

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If you need career assistance, please contact Dena Bilbrew at resumelady101@gmail.com.