You have heard it before, Job Hunter. As soon as you hit send on that job application, your prospective employer is going to Google you. Every picture. Every record. Every mention of your name.
Yet this isn’t the old scour-every-picture-of-a-red-plastic-cup advice they tell college kids. According to a new survey by Bullhorn, a Boston recruiting technology company, everyone who has any interest in hiring you is looking for you online.
The biggest mistake job hunting military spouses will make is to ignore the new importance of your online persona -- what is there and now what isn’t there.
In a poll of 1,848 staffing professionals from all over the country and all types of business, 98.2 percent said that they used some form of social media in their recruiting process this year.
It does not matter what field you are in: Employers are searching professional online communities such as LinkedIn, BeKnown and BranchOut to find applicants for every job from low-skilled, low-paid positions such as cashier or truck driver to Fortune 500 CEOs.
While LinkedIn is the largest, it is not the only network out there for professionals to stalk. If you’re already on Facebook, consider BeKnown and BranchOut. BeKnown, a social media tool developed by Monster.com, and BranchOut are applications that work within the Facebook account you already have to build out your professional network.
Much like Candy Crash or Farmville, these apps allow you to spend your Facebook time doing something other than stalking your ex -- but in this case, they give you some professional oomph.
No matter which tool you choose to use, it’s important to get your professional self online. Employers are not only looking at what you have done, they notice if you have no presence at all.
Be there with the right stuff
If this is all news to you (or if it is totally discouraging), you are not alone. I recently spent a morning with resume expert and career assessment goddess Susan Guarneri to give us tips about what we can do right now to get that interview.
I asked Susan to help me workshop my very lacking professional profile into something a potential employer might notice.
“No one’s going to look at this the way it is,” she said, taking me by surprise.
I had all the basics -- a brief employment and education history, some endorsements from former colleagues, a relatively current picture. I had filled out the profile, and it ticked off like my resume, although admittedly a relatively tired version.
What could be so important that I really need to put it out there for the entire world to see? Is it really necessary to add more?
Susan’s answer came without hesitation. “If you just have this really skimpy, mediocre profile, you’ve succeeded in shooting yourself in the foot,” she explained. “It’s not just a question of being there. It’s being there with the right stuff.”
Heather, a Marine Corps wife hoping to get back into the workforce after years of raising young children, was baffled. “You have more here than I do!” she exclaimed when I showed her my profile and Susan’s suggestions for fixing it. “Mine is just bare bones. I didn’t know anyone really used these.”
LinkedIn started out as just another social network. We knew it was theoretically work-focused, and if we even bothered to sign up for an account in the first place, we probably did not do much with it. Like mine, yours might be sitting fallow from neglect.
Fast forward to 2013: Your online digital persona is a very big deal.
In the last few years, LinkedIn has become such a source for finding candidates that even the conventional recruiting firms are getting nervous. “Even though LinkedIn’s original vision was to become a professional social network to bring people together, it has become “the place” for professionals to network, look for jobs, and be found by employers,” said corporate HR analyst and Forbes contributor Josh Bersin.
BranchOut and Beknown have come later to the table but are still important to consider. Being in every avenue can only increase exposure.
And that’s true for you whatever your next professional move may be. Not planning to apply for a job until next year? Or maybe you are waiting until the kids are off to college? You need one. When it comes to making and maintaining an online profile that matters, you are on the hook, too. In today’s world, you need a great professional profile if you have a job, plan on having a job, plan on applying to a job -- ever.
“If you want a prime job, you have to do a prime job of selling yourself online.” That’s the best advice you can get from Guarneri, and we couldn’t agree more. With help from the experts and our guides to getting your professional profile up and running, you can make sure that as you navigate multiple PCSes and numerous job markets, employers not only find you online, but they find you there with all the right stuff.
And since they are looking, you will want to start today.