Find a Job that Matters

Ep. 017: The Social Media Job Search, with Joshua Waldman

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The Social Media Job Search, with Joshua Waldman

According to one estimate, 80% of employers Google candidates before inviting someone in for a job interview. What will people see when they Google you? Photos from your college spring break trip to Mexico or an up-to-date LinkedIn page? What impression will you create online? That you’re the life of the party or an accomplished professional?

Using social media in your job hunt isn’t only about playing defense. Facebook and other personal accounts can make a big positive difference in your career.

This week on “Find Your Dream Job” Mac talks with Joshua Waldman, CEO and founder of Career Enlightenment, about how to use social media in your job search. Joshua is the author of Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies, and he’s also written for Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable and the International Business Times. Joshua’s career blog, CareerEnlightenment.com, won the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Career Blog 2013. When he’s not writing, Joshua presents keynotes, trainings and breakout sessions around the world.

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In this 28-minute episode you will learn:

  • Why your online profiles matter
  • Tactics to leverage LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter in your job search and career
  • How to improve your online profiles and use them effectively
  • Common mistakes professionals make with social media
  • How to appropriately send “cold call” requests on LinkedIn
  • A free tool to clean-up your social media accounts

This week’s guest:

Joshua WaldmanJoshua Waldman (@joshuawaldman | LinkedIn)
CEO & Founder
Career Enlightenment
Portland, Ore.

 

Listener question of the week: 

  • I’m thinking about asking to connect with someone on LinkedIn. The problem is — I’ve never actually met them. Is this ok to do?

If you have a question you’d like us to answer on a future episode, please contact Jenna Forstrom, Mac’s List Community Manager at jenna@macslist.org.

Resources referenced on this week’s show:

If you have a job-hunting or career development resource resource you’d like to share, please contact Ben Forstag, Mac’s List Managing Director at ben@macslist.org.

Thank you for listening to Find Your Dream Job. If you like this show, please help us by rating and reviewing our podcast on iTunes. We appreciate your support!

Opening and closing music for Find Your Dream Job provided by Freddy Trujillo, www.freddytrujillo.com.

 

Full Transcript

Mac:                        

This is Find Your Dream Job the podcast that help you get hired, have the career you want and make a difference in your life. I’m Mac Prichard your host and publisher of Mac’s List. Our show is brought to you by Mac’s List and our book Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond. To learn more about the book and the updated edition that we are publishing in February, visit Macslist.org/ebook.

Before you start a job search you need to do your homework, one of the most important steps you can take is to put your online house in order. According to one estimate, 80% of employers Google candidates before inviting someone in for a job interview. What will people see when they Google you? Photos from your college spring break trip to Mexico or an up to date LinkedIn page. What impression would you create online? That you are the life of the party or an accomplished professional. Using your social media in your job hunt isn’t only about playing defense. Facebook and other personal can make a bit positive difference in your career. This week on Find Your Dream Job, we’re talking about how to use social media in your job search. Cecilia Bianco filling in for Ben Forstag as a tool that finds and removes objectionable materials from online accounts. Cecilia also tells us how to handle a common LinkedIn etiquette question. And I talk to Joshua Waltman, the author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies. As always let’s start by checking in with the Mac’s List team. Cecilia this week we are missing our third musketeer.

Cecilia:                  

Yes we are he’s out on paternity leave

Mac:                        

Yeah a big congratulations to Ben and his wife Erin on the arrival of their new son, Oliver Fox Forstag, who has a great acronym that’s off, so I’m kind of puzzled over that. Ben isn’t here but we are very happy for him and his family. Now let’s talk about social media, LinkedIn is the most popular social media site for job hunters. Cecilia when did you first sign up for LinkedIn and why did you do that?

Cecilia:                  

I signed up quite a few years back, my sophomore year when I was applying for my first internship. My college professor had suggested that I get on there and get my experience up there so that when I did apply they would have something to see online that showed my professional experience.

Mac:                        

Did you find that helpful when you were starting out?

Cecilia:                  

Yeah I did it gave them some background before I came in for an interview because they knew where I went to college and if I had any previous work experience. I think it was helpful for me and them.

Mac:                        

Was that a novelty among your fellow students at that time to have a LinkedIn page?

Cecilia:                  

I think so yeah, I think my program which was focused in journalism paid a lot of attention to things like that and getting prepared for a career. I think we were some of the first college students in our grade at least.

Mac:

Cool. Well I first signed up for LinkedIn I think in 2007 and it was so early in the development of the program I remember inviting someone and getting a reply saying well I’ll give this a try I’m not sure it’s going to take off or not. Obviously it has.

Lets turn to resource of the week. Before Ben started his leave he discovered a great tool for job seekers that they can use to identify social media issues that might concern an employer. What can you tell us about that Cecilia?

Cecilia:                  

Yeah so this week Ben planned to share a free tool called Scrubber that makes it a lot easier to clean up your social media profiles. I’m sure everyone has some potentially incriminating posts somewhere on-line that they’re not going to want employers to see. Scrubber is an application that automates the process to find and remove those posts. Ben gave it a test run but before he did he spent about an hour looking through his Facebook posts and only got to the beginning of 2012. He then started looking for a tool just like Scrubber and found it to be pretty helpful. Mac I have a question for you, have you ever actively cleaned up your social media profiles?

Mac:

I have when I prepare to do job searches or I’ve actually gone back and looked at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. I remember a lesson I learned earlier in my career when I was doing media relations in Boston. I had a boss who said don’t ever put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the paper. I’ve applied that rule as consistently as I can to my social media accounts. It’s been a good … it’s a principal that’s served me well.

Cecilia:                  

Yeah that’s a great rule. It’s definitely an important thing to do before you even start applying for jobs because as you mentioned we know employers are going to look at us on-line. You want to be prepared for that. What Scrubber does is scan your social media accounts and it flags anything questionable, any contents such as profanity, references to drugs or alcohol or check-in’s at what we would think as questionable locations. Then it provides a report of all of this flagged content with links to edit or delete each post. It’s definitely going to save you a lot of time when you’re doing this. As I mentioned Ben went ahead and tested Scrubber and he selected just his Facebook and Twitter accounts and I know he was pretty impressed with what the tool came up with.

Mac:                        

What did he find Cecelia?

Cecilia:                  

Well hopefully he doesn’t mind me sharing it’s nothing too embarrassing. Scrubber flagged 120 of his 2600 posts and they were mostly just mild swear words and a couple of references to his favorite beers. He also mentioned that he was cringing at how many cat photos he had posted while going through this process.

Mac:                        

Okay cat photos and videos can be your road to viral success. We have a colleague here at our sister company Pritchard Communications who has a former colleague who has a cat video who has 3 million views and counting. Don’t be afraid of cat pictures.

Cecilia:                  

Yeah and that is a great video we might link that in the show notes.

Mac:                        

Okay.

Cecilia:

Overall when Ben reported back about Scrubber he said it worked out pretty well for him but it did miss some posts that he would see as questionable and it flagged a lot of irrelevant content as well. While he thinks it’s a great tool, it’s still necessary to do some of that work for yourself and really manually go through and just skim your profiles. There is a free version of Scrubber and they also offer a more in-depth premium version for $20. Or by sharing a link to Scrubber on your social media profiles. Check out Scrubber it’s available at www.scrubber.social.com.

Mac:                        

Ben returns the office next week and thank you Cecilia for filling in for him. If you have a question for Ben write him and he may share your idea on the show. His address is Ben@macslist.org.

Now let’s turn to your listeners, Cecilia what questions do you have this week from our listeners?

Cecilia:

Our question this week is I’m thinking about asking to connect with someone on LinkedIn. The problem is that I’ve never actually met them, is this okay to do? This question continues to pop up for us ever since the Kelly Blazek scandal, Mac I’m sure you remember this, but for those of you who haven’t heard of it, Kelly Blazek is a senior communications professional she founded the Cleveland Job Bank and as a result has a very large professional network. A college grad who had never met Blazek sent her a LinkedIn request with a message that did go over so well with Blazek. She responded extremely harshly to this college grad. Her response actually went viral so if you read Blazek’s e-mail, I’m sure you’ll agree with us that it was an error in judgment and really unnecessary to be so harsh. The college grad did approach Blazek in a way that set her up for failure.

Mac we’ve discussed this a lot before, but can you share what you think the college grad did wrong in her LinkedIn request message?

Mac:                        

I do remember this case Cecilia and I think the college grad made some rookie errors here. It’s always important to be clear about what you want and be specific in your request when you’re reaching out to someone. For two reasons, one it makes it much easier for people to say yes to you and it also saves the time of the person that you are writing to. That was an error on her part.

Cecilia:

Yeah I think that was definitely one of her main errors. The other thing was Blazek’s main complaint about her e-mail was that she came off as very expectant and that she was perpetuating this stereotype of millennials and college grads that we just want things without earning them. That makes sense even though Blazek’s response was out of control. If you’re going to request someone that you don’t know on LinkedIn, this is really exactly what do. It is definitely okay to request strangers as long as you are approaching in the right way. When you are sending a cold call request, you want to envision yourself meeting this person face to face for the first time. Think about how you would greet them and how you would introduce yourself. You wouldn’t walk up to them and say I’m looking for a career in X, you would say hello and give a brief introduction of who you are.

Usually when you are connecting with a stranger on LinkedIn you have a reason for doing so or you should have a reason for doing so. Whether it’s a request for an informational interview or you have an upcoming job interview at this person’s company. This reason should help you personalize the message and make it clear why you are reaching out to them specifically.

Mac you get requests on LinkedIn from people you haven’t met all the time, can you give a good example of how someone did this?

Mac:

A couple of examples come to mind, a basic one that I know we’ve talked about this on other shows, is when you make a request for a LinkedIn connection don’t use the default text that LinkedIn provides. Take the moment to personalize the note, use the name of the person reaching out to. Then in a sentence or two explain why you’re reaching out to them. The other example that comes to mind is I’m much more likely to say yes to informational interviews or requests for introductions when people take the time to write a personal note that again, lays out our connection, who introduced or how we might be connected to each other and what they would like to accomplish.

Cecilia:                  

I definitely agree with that, I know I’ve received requests from people who I don’t know. They simply e-mail me and say they’re looking for work and want an informational interview. I’m a lot happier to meet with someone when they explain specifically what they are looking for from me and why they chose to reach out to me instead of all the other communication professionals. Giving some background about why you’re reaching out, such as maybe you want to follow the same career path and you want to discuss that will make the person on the other end fill a lot more comfortable.

Mac:

The comfort not only matters but it helps them accomplish what they want to get out of the meeting. One of the points I always try to bring up when I meet with someone is I want to make sure you get what you need from this conversation. Getting clear about what they hope to accomplish helps them get that done.

Cecilia:                  

Yeah definitely.

Mac:

Well thank you Cecilia, if you have a question for Cecilia her email address in the Cecilia@macslist.org.

These segments are sponsored by the 2016 addition of Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond. We are making the complete Mac’s List guide even better, we’re adding new content and publishing the book on multiple platforms. We are launching the new version of the book in February and for the first time you’ll be able to read Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond on your Kindle Nook, iPad and other digital devices. You’ll also be able to order a paperback edition. Whatever the format our goal is the same. We want to give you the tools and tips you need to get meaningful work. To learn more visit our website macslist.org/ebook and sign up for our newsletter. We will send e-book readers special updates and we will also share exclusive book content and provide you with special pre-sale prices.

Here to talk about your online profile and why it matters is Joshua Waldman. Joshua knows how you can stand out on-line. He is the author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies. He’s also written Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable and the International Business Times. Joshua’s career blog careerenlightenment.com won the About. Com readers choice award for best career blog in 2013. When he’s not writing, Joshua presents keynotes, training and breakout sessions around the world. Joshua thanks for joining us today.

Joshua:                  

Hey Mac, pleasure to be here.

Mac:                        

Joshua you know all about social media and I think when people think about social media and job hunting the first application that comes to mind is LinkedIn. Tell us about the first time you used LinkedIn.

Joshua:                  

LinkedIn, I started using LinkedIn in 2006. Really because that’s what the MBA program I was in at the time at Boston University told me to do. Prior to getting my profile set up I was getting a lot of these come join me on LinkedIn e-mails that I thought were very spammy. I caved in and decided to set up a profile and really glad I did because that summer we were studying overseas for the international MBA. I was actually able to use LinkedIn to meet with executives from around the world to set up meetings and have coffee with these CEOs and CMOs in Vietnam and in China and in Japan where I was.

Mac:                        

When you see people use LinkedIn now, what do people do to stand out what do you see people do that makes you say yes to their LinkedIn request?

Joshua:

If their profile talks to me, if they don’t have a picture I’m not going to accept their request because it just seems like they’re not taking this very seriously. If they’re just using their profile as kind of holding place for their resume it’s not very engaging. First of all resume language is very stuffy lets face it. I think that when you’re on a profile and you’re using a social network like LinkedIn you want to be able to make that connection with somebody else pretty quick. I look for things like are they really telling their story or are they just copying and pasting their executive summary there. First-person narrative is typically a good grammatical signal of that someone has taken the time to write about themselves on-line and that’s usually a good sign for me.

Mac:                        

Be sure to have a picture, don’t import your resume and use the first person when telling your story. When you see people who tell their story well Joshua, what are the things that they do that make you pay attention?

Joshua:

Well what I’m looking for is how they’re going to help me. I think we need to keep that in mind particular as job seekers, it not about oh look at me I’m looking for a job. When people are reading your profile, they’re thinking to themselves how is this person going to help me. When I’m deciding to accept or reject invitations or even just in mails I’m thinking whats in it for me, what am I going to get from this connection. If it’s not imminent, if it’s not obvious within the first couple of seconds I’m really not going to spend too much time trying to figure it out. I think it kind of behooves anyone who is any serious about advancing their career and if you recognize LinkedIn as a tool to do that, make it really easy for your reader to really know how you can provide value to them.

Mac:                        

How do you see people provide that value Joshua? Are there things they do in telling the story, do they publish regularly on the platform?

Joshua:

Publishing has really, really exploded. I’m glad that I started to do it last year, I’ve gotten a lot of traffic to my website. I think when you can tell your story with your voice whether it’s an article you write or you are just sharing articles other people write. I think it makes you a little bit more rounded as an individual you’re not just a profile on there. You have something to say. I think that’s important to do.

Mac:                        

I think that’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen in LinkedIn in the last few years because in the beginning I think people saw it as an on-line resume and then it became kind of contact database, a way of connecting with all of the people in your professional circles. It’s become a blogging platform.

Joshua:

It’s a fantastic blogging platform. I get comments every week. I think if I were a job seeker at a certain level in my career I think I would want to be seen as a thought leader. Even if I wasn’t actively looking for a job, if I was secure in a position that I’m comfortable with I would build my reputation up a little bit by having that library of articles under my belt.

Mac:

What are some easy steps that people can take who are interested in using LinkedIn as a publishing platform? What are two or three simple steps they can take today?

Joshua:

The first step is just to start sharing on it, you don’t have to publish a 500 word article right off the bat. If it’s new to you, if publishing on-line is kind of nascence in your life then you can just take an article someone else has written and share it and provide some commentary on that article. That’s a good way to create engagement in your network. What happens when you post other people in your network will see it when they log in to LinkedIn, it’s on their home page. If they share it or like it or comment on it, your posts now gets exposed to their network. It’s just a great way of growing your personal brand.

Mac:

I think that engagement is so important, I meet a lot of people who think that their challenge is to update their LinkedIn profile and if they do that the recruiters and the job offers will come. Tell us why that doesn’t happen Joshua.

Joshua:                  

It’s very passive, I think you just go on-line and you tweak your profile around a little bit and you hope something were to happen is very dis-empowering. I think yeah it’s important to do that and have a ground work of a good profile. But you’re going to get pretty depressed pretty quick when nothing happens. You have to put yourself out there and publishing is a good way to do that, but more proactive then that is to actually research companies that you’re interested in. Find out who works there that might be a good source for information. Actually reach out to them, I’ve got some templates on my website that people can use for free, but even if you don’t want to use templates the advice is still there. Go find someone to talk to, give yourself a goal, three new people a week or five new people a week and hold yourself accountable to that goal.

Mac:                        

That’s good advice. No how about LinkedIn groups, what do you recommend people do with LinkedIn groups how can they make the most of them?

Joshua:                  

Well groups is very similar to publishing, in fact if you do publish, you can take your article and share it on the groups that you are a part of. Not every group is active, a lot of them are kind of self congratulatory or self promotional. Other groups are really good where they’re talking about industry-specific issues. I had a lot of fun on my alumni groups, not necessarily reconnected with folks I went to school with, that’s more of a Facebook thing. I know that these are educated and serious professionals in that group and we’ve had really good discussions about various topics. Whether it’s your an alumni group or industry group, there’s even alumni groups for companies like people who used to work at Cisco or people who used to work at Intel. There’s really a lot of great groups out there to get involved with.

Mac:

Well social media encompasses a lot more than LinkedIn, tell us about some of the other applications out there like Facebook and Twitter and how people can use them in their job search.

Joshua:                  

Twitter is probably the easiest one to tackle first. Recruiters use Twitter, there’s really no doubt about that. Twitter has changed a lot, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for everybody, but it’s a good way to get real-time job postings. If you’re following a recruiting company in town or you use Tweet My Jobs, you are going to get first notice when jobs pop up. That’s always good because the sooner you can apply the better of course. You can use Twitter to kind of bypass certain gatekeepers, there are strategies around how to do that but really everyone from the CEO to the mail room clerk are probably using Twitter to some extent and it’s a great way to have that one-to-one communication.

Mac:                        

How about Facebook?

Joshua:                  

Facebook is responsible for something like 8 million more jobs than LinkedIn. The reason for that is not necessarily because there is more recruiters on Facebook, in fact I don’t think recruiters use Facebook very much. I think that they try to avoid it. From a company’s perspective they are looking for referrals. Statistically they know that referrals are better employees, they last longer, they perform better and they are easier to hire. Referrals are family and friends of employees. Well guess where your family and friends hang out, it’s Facebook. That’s where Uncle Joey who you haven’t seen in 10 years, sees your post that you’re looking for a job in a particular industry and he thinks, oh you know so-and-so told me about this opening, I’m going to tell you about it and refer you into that position because I know you, like you, and trust you. I think Facebook is a fantastic way to build relationships that leads to referrals and to opportunities.

Mac:                        

Good. Any other social media applications that people should be thinking about, those I think are the big three?

Joshua:                  

They are the big three, there’s a lot of articles about how to use Pinterest and Google Plus. Statistically speaking, there’s really no significant universe of success for those applications. Our time is limited and we want to maximize and use the highest leverage tools that we can. I would say don’t feel overwhelmed by these things, pick one and learn it, understand it and do it well and then move on to the next. Start with LinkedIn and move on to the others and I think you’ll find results happen pretty quick.

Mac:                        

Well thank Joshua. Tell us how you we can find you online.

Joshua:

Well you can check me out at careerenlightenment.com, you can find a couple of really fun free tools to help you out with this. First are those in mail templates that I was talking about you can once you go to careerenlightenment.com, click on free stuff and you’ll see that right there on that page. That will help you kind of kick start, jump start you’re networking activities on there. I also have a LinkedIn profile grading tool so if you’re not sure if your profile is up to par, this took that I wrote is an application on-line will actually give you a score and tell you specifically things you need to do to improve your profile and also that’s available on careerenlightenment.com.

Mac:                        

Terrific we will be sure to include links to all of those tools in the show notes. Thank you Joshua.

Joshua:

Thanks Mac.

Mac:

Take care.

All right we are back in the studio, Cecilia what was the most important point you heard Joshua make?

Cecilia:                  

Well two things I really liked his point about setting goals to make LinkedIn more valuable. Picking three people or five people per week to really build your network effectively I think that’s a great tip. Then I really liked what he had to say about Facebook because it’s not something we talk about a lot. But using Facebook as a way to build your network and get more referrals is awesome. It’s a great tactic and I actually just had a friend get hired through a referral, it’s definitely the easiest way.

Mac:                        

Facebook has such great engagement when I post something on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook I always give more engagement on Facebook. I think the point about having a strategy is right on. I also liked his point about not using LinkedIn as a passively instead think about how you can use it to engage with others and to be of service to others.

We will be back next week with Cecilia, Ben and myself as well as more tools and tips you can use to find your dream job. In the meantime visit us at Macslist.org where you can sign up for our free newsletter with more than a 100 new jobs every week. If you like what you hear on the show you can help us by leaving a review and a rating at iTunes, this helps others discover our show and helps us help more job seekers. Thanks for listening.

 

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Mac Prichard
Mac Prichard publishes Mac's List and owns and operates Prichard Communications, a public relations agency that serves non-profits, public agencies, and foundations across the United States. He also blogs regularly about job-hunting.
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