The world of a job seeker has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.
Gone are the days when we aggressively scanned the Sunday jobs section in the newspaper,and faxed off a dozen resumes to company HR departments. Today, there are new tactics and online tools that better equip job seekers for success in a highly competitive market.
For people interested in securing a job with a government contractor, Kathleen Smith, the chief marketing officer at ClearedJobs.Net, offered some important advice during yesterday’s GovWin GovCon Careers Webinar, “Getting Back To The Job Hunt.”
Watch the video presentation from this event below:
Shattering the Myths
Smith said that were a few myths people searching for jobs still operate under. Saying that “today’s job search is different,” she noted that “technology will control your access to employers and their access to you.”
For example, instead of relying on newspapers to identify opportunities and faxing your resume to human resources departments at various companies, the way you will find jobs that are right for you and be identified by employers is through keywords. Keywords highlight the requirements a particular employer is looking for as well as your skills and accomplishments.
This ties into the importance social networks are playing in the job search process. Many people seeking a new job after many years either out of the workforce or out of the job market believe that employers are “just going to have to find me the way I am.” However, employers use social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook to find and screen candidates. So, establishing keywords around your skills, building your online reputation and managing you as a brand are very important.
Of course, when faced with all of these technologies, a mentality that things are too hard can creep in. Smith says that people need to remember they they are “always learning new skills.”
Remember, a job search today will require new thinking. It is not just about what you do; it is about who you are, what you have to offer and how you package yourself. A job search will be an evolving project. And if it helps your thinking: Given the amount of time we spend at work, a job search is a quality of life search that requires your best effort.
LinkedIn is Essential for Job Seekers and Employers
LinkedIn is one of the most important tools for the modern-day job seeker. A network of millions of people all over the world, LinkedIn allows you to highlight your skills and value to a potential employer.
Smith says that to effectively use LinkedIn, you need to “craft your profile properly,” which means including:
A professional picture and detailed summary
A list of accomplishments to show your value
Links to any blogs, Twitter accounts or websites you are associated with
Smith also advises updating your LinkedIn profile “at least monthly” and “more so if in an active search.” This also means providing professional “status updates at least two to three times a week.”
Your network is part of your brand. As such, you need to reach out to all your past colleagues, professional contacts and friends and establish a connection with them on LinkedIn. This is one of the best ways to find out about opportunities.
But don’t just send the same message to each person in a chain email. Personalize your communication and find people you can write recommendations for who can return the favor. Positive recommendations are an excellent way to stand out to recruiters.
Facebook and Twitter Play Important Roles
Whether you are an active user of Facebook and Twitter or have never used the sites before, both are helpful in establishing a positive online presence. Smith says that Facebook users need to be sure to “set up the lists of people you share information with between your close friends and the general public” so potential employers only see relevant information and not too many personal details.
Also, when using Facebook and other social networks, be sure to “like” companies, organizations and government agencies that you are interested in. Smith says it’s important to “be part of key trade association groups in the industry” and customize your bio to include skills and keywords that recruiters can search on.
Last, on Twitter, be sure to “follow companies that you are interested in and/or their job posting feed” as well as follow and connect with recruiters. Sharing professional information is important, but Smith says to focus on “quality, not quantity.”
Put Aside Fear and Promote Yourself
Embracing and implementing new technologies and tactics in your job search can be an intimidating process. But as Smith says, “You really need to take a first step.” So get online, create your online profiles and get started highlighting who you are and what you are capable of in the workplace.
It struck me as I was reviewing my plans for the upcoming Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in June that there is not a lot of attention on using email to reach one’s customer base in the Conference agenda and session discussions about online marketing. In the not so distant past (which means a year in the new technology era), strategic email marketing was still regarded as the most effective and affordable means to reach an audience and maintain a connection.
So, what has changed?
For starters, people are suffering from email fatigue in a substantial way (Wikipedia actually refers to this as “email bankruptcy”, but I’ve since added the term today). According to some estimates email is a $650 billion drag on the economy, because people engage in too many unnecessary responses and waste time reading messages that they either should not have received in the first place, or simply add no value to their overall productivity (I’ve actually been guilty of that several times as I am writing this blog entry).
The other factor is SPAM. Heinz Tschabitscher, contributor to About.com, writes that “spam has turned email into a very costly undertaking,” citing the complaints ISPs have to cope with, the struggles of email users who try to manage their accounts, the inaccuracy of SPAM blockers where valuable email is sometimes lost, and marketing professionals and publishers who constantly try to justify it all. Ben Macklin of eMarketer calls spam “the scourge of the Internet” and organizations like Spamhaus are working to identify known spamming operations to help curb the abuse.
This is not to say that email is no longer a productive solution to marketing and lead generation. In fact, Spam exists not because a group of a few thousand people globally have nothing better to do until they get their Nintendo Wii, but rather because it is highly profitable.
I think it is safe to say that the issue surrounding email as a marketing tool is not a question of profitability. Pound for pound, it still remains highly cost effective and can yield positive results. However, the shear mass of data coming through nowadays and the volume of Spam that each of us receives, truly minimizes the ability of email to really inform and engage people in a way that builds positive brand recognition. If anything, people are shying away from email marketing, because there is a growing stigma surrounding it, but also because they are finding that reaching the “Inbox” is no longer the value it once was.
This leads us to the question, “If not email marketing, then what?”
In our own experience, we have found using social media, such as blogs and webinars, social networking sites (For example, check out our ParentPower community on Facebook and join me on LinkedIn), Twitter, and the like, to be a very helpful way to both discover new solutions and new ideas as well as get more direct interaction with our customers and content providers, which enables us to hear about the user experience first-hand… sometimes as it is taking place. You simply cannot get that from an email that someone may or may not get a chance to read – assuming you reached the inbox in the first place.
The challenge surrounding social media, however, is often overlooked by its dynamic appeal, uniqueness and the subtle suggestion by the news media that everyone is doing it, and if you are not – you’re missing out. In fact, the challenge with using social media and networking is quite obvious when you think about it: it’s time intensive.
Just ask yourself, “How effective would I be if I walked into a room of 50 or 100 strangers, all engaged in their own conversations, and shouted, “I’m offering a 20% discount on a new product that will mean you never have to clean your kitchen floors again!”? Not only would you annoy a lot of people, there is a strong likelihood that you would discourage the very people who may be interested in such a product under normal circumstances from even approaching you.
The truth behind these strategies is that they are based on building relationships (see Livingston on wooing bloggers), and relationships take time. This whole concept of building relationships is what the new marketing paradigm is built around. In the not so distant past (we all know what that means now, right?)… email campaigns were the quick and easy way to broadcast your brand and offerings to the masses. Today, quick and easy is how you bake a cake or clean a toilet bowl (And yes, I lifted that from Tango and Cash). Is it how you run your marketing?
Right now, as you read this, the masses are worn out from it all, and they want meaning… they want substance. On the one hand, this forces all of us in marketing to take on more responsibility and work. But on the other hand, it gives us a tremendous opportunity to provide meaningful solutions to people (fyi – its the customer’s perception of what is meaningful that you need to address) and establish relationships that go deeper than a name on a message.
Of course, this brings us to another solution to the growing decline in the value of email and online marketing strategies, which are desktop applications.
The benefit of desktop applications, more so than one-dimensional widgets or email, is that they are all-inclusive communications vehicles. Not only do they engage your audience by providing a bridge to relevant web content, they provide a one-stop resource for video, audio / podcasts, flash-based games, and in the case of ActiveAccess, include a built-in RSS reader, interactive weather map and links to other resources. The multi-faceted nature of a desktop application, not to mention that the application is on the desktop all the time a person is on their computer, is more engaging for the user, less fatiguing, and helps build a content relationship between the provider and the user that is unique.
What’s more, desktop applications, as a piece to your Web 2.0 puzzle, are not nearly as time intensive as other social media strategies. In fact, they are used to enhance your existing web strategy by providing a portal for your customers to reach you when they are not browsing the Internet.
For more information on how ActiveAccess can help your company or organization, shoot us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.