For veterans entering the civilian job market, there are many Internet tools available beyond the large search engines and the transition services offered through the VA. Consider sharing your expertise with prospective employers through an all-out social media campaign. Not sure how to build your own personal brand and promote it effectively? Here are some tools to get you started:
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com) can help veterans find or create a group related to their professional interests. Maintaining a professional profile on the site is free and participating in group discussions helps to network and expand connections. Other handy features of LinkedIn include:
- Once you’ve entered all your affiliations (like alma mater, previous companies you’ve worked for, and division of the military) you can use search features to locate other people you know.
- If you are not sure which group is a good match, LinkedIn will make suggestions based on your profile information.
- Use LinkedIn to check out corporate profiles and keep a list of companies you’d like to contact for prospective employment.
Be a guest blogger
Another great way to get your name and expertise noticed is to pick a few top notch blogs in your field and get into comment discussions. Once you get a good feel for the blog audience, consider pitching a few guest blog topics to the blog owner. Connecting with other professionals with a blog shows that you are interested in being active in your field. It also demonstrates that you:
- possess professional communication skills.
- can respond appropriately to a topic and to others, even if you disagree.
- keep up with your field and have an authentic interest in pertinent topics.
Build a professionally focused Facebook page
A professional focused Facebook page can be a great place to share content about your area of expertise with others. Pages where links to related professional organizations are neatly displayed with resources for less experienced members of the field to explore have been known to be hugely popular. The “wall” posts revolve around new developments in the field or discussion about other blogs or current articles. This approach can be effective to increase:
- contacts (both now and in the future).
- visibility for jobs– you never know “who knows who” until you start connecting.
- engagement in your personal brand - FB is all about sharing so go ahead and tell people about the topics in your field that are relevant and engaging.
Join the Professional Organization(s) in your field
In addition to hosting regional meetings and offering additional professional development, joining the professional organization(s) in your field or in the field you are interested in often provides:
- online forums and discussions of pertinent topics.
- national conference opportunities and job fairs.
- a job posting board.
- career mentoring.
- community involvement and networking opportunity.
Twitter is another resource for job seekers. You can follow certain companies you are interested in and be instantly connected to your network of contacts when jobs open up. In addition to Twitter, there are currently at least two dozen different social media sites that you can use to connect to others, but the ones mentioned here have the largest potential for professional connections that may lead to jobs.
Collectively these tools can help you build a personal brand, share your knowledge with others, and hopefully speed up the job search process. Here are two good resources for using social media to build a personal brand and assist you in your job search. See: http://www.business2community.com/linkedin/using-linkedin-to-build-your-personal-brand-0102824 and http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2011/01/18/how-job-seekers-can-build-their-online-brand
Finding a job can uncover some obstacles. But with social media and the awesome events sponsored by professional organizations, veterans can connect with others while searching for a job to help diminish the impact of the obstacles. The great thing about building a professional profile and working on a personal brand is that once you get it going you just need to maintain it. Then it has a way of sustaining you over and over again offering many ongoing opportunities.
While transitioning out of military life into a civilian job can be a challenging adjustment, it helps to develop a support system and career network that will evolve with you as your new life unfolds. In addition to all the traditional tools available like official transition services and Internet job boards, utilizing social media effectively can help you leverage increased visibility and help you maneuver past the competition into a top job of your choice.
If you build your personal brand and expose it proudly you just might find that perfect job faster than you think. Your perfect place in the global marketplace may just be a few short clicks away!