Find Your Dream Job, Episode 195:
How to Stand Out Online with Employers, with Blake Thiess
Airdate: June 12, 2019
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps professionals find fulfilling careers.
Every Wednesday on Find Your Dream Job, I interview a career expert. We discuss the tools you need to find the work you want.
Today, I’m talking to Blake Thiess about how to stand out online with employers.
Would you like a recruiter to approach you about a job? Our expert this week says it happens all the time.
Blake Thiess is in charge of hiring for a national company that operates in eight states. He says professionals who stand out online regularly get contacted by recruiters. And you can make it happen, too.
Want to learn more? Listen in now at the Mac’s List studio as I talk to Blake Thiess about how you can stand out online with employers.
Blake Thiess is the director of talent acquisition for Prestige Care. It’s a skilled nursing and senior care company with more than 85 locations in eight states.
He’s passionate about training and development and all things recruiting, human resources, and job seeking.
Blake joins us today here in the Mac’s List studio in Portland, Oregon.
Blake, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me, Mac.
It’s a pleasure.
Now, Blake, what do people who stand out online and get employers or recruiters to actually contact them, do differently?
Yeah, that’s a very good question, Mac. I think, when I look back on some of the folks that have really stood out to me online, it’s those that are engaging. So if a recruiter, or a talent acquisition professional, or even a human resources professional, depending on the size of the organization, posts something on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, it’s those that are liking and commenting and engaging in the content. If you do that over and over enough, your name and your brand will be more visible for those that are making the hiring decisions and those in a hiring authority position.
I see that all the time on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active and so, those that do that are engaging, those are the folks that are standing out above, really, the noise.
You’re a recruiter; you lead a talent acquisition team for a major, national employer, so you do pay attention to what people say and do on LinkedIn and other online accounts, don’t you?
Absolutely, absolutely. So, we own and operate over 80 locations in 8 states and while I have a team of 4 teammates, that we all collaborate, I do recruiting myself. I have a list of open requisitions that I’m charged with filling, so 100%, I am dialed into what’s going on, there at Prestige and beyond.
Why does that make a difference for you at your company and also your fellow recruiters? Why do you all care about that? Why does that make a candidate different?
Yeah, that’s a really great question, Mac, and I would say my initial response is, it shows an employer or a hiring authority that you really want it, that you really are engaging with the brand, engaging with the jobs, and engaging with the employer value proposition, really. That’s why I think it’s really important. It shows that you really want it, as opposed to somebody who maybe simply just applied for the job and crossed their fingers that they would get it.
It allows you to really stand out amongst the noise. I know I’m being a little bit repetitive, but I think I need to say it again.
Okay, so that’s the ‘why,’ Blake. Let’s talk about the ‘how’ here, because I can imagine listeners thinking, “Okay, he’s telling me to get online, and that I need to be there regularly. What’s the strategy behind it though?” Are you trying to attract the attention of every employer? Are you focused on a particular company or recruiter? What’s your experience here and what do you recommend?
That’s a great question. There’s never been a better time than right now for job seekers or professionals, just from the macro, to build a brand, to build visibility on their uniqueness out in the marketplace. And that’s what’s awesome about social media, you know, the LinkedIns and the FaceBooks of the world beyond is that we now have distribution channels, which, by the way, they’re free, to push our expertise out there as job seekers.
You know, there’s an example that came up to me recently. An individual that used to work for Prestige in a sales and marketing capacity, and she did a phenomenal job for us, eventually relocated to another state. Did some phenomenal regional sales work and I had always kept in touch with her, via social. She would always engage with my posts, not only on Instagram but LinkedIn and beyond, and she would also post her own things. Her own expertise about the senior living sales space, really, and I just always kept in contact with her and she finally, she reached back out to me and said, “You know what? I’m dissatisfied where I’m at. What’s next for me? What do you have?”
“That’s funny,” I’m not going to use her name, but you know, “I just had this role, it’s going to be open coming here shortly. I’d love to get you on that short list of folks that we’d love to engage with.” Sure enough, she was hired about a month ago and she started on Monday, in a regional sales role for a half a billion dollar senior living company.
She was gone, but not forgotten and, to your point, she paid attention to her personal brand and was she focusing on sharing information in your field? It was professional information, on LinkedIn perhaps?
Yeah, absolutely, she was doing that, and she would be writing blogs or reposting articles that she would find relative to senior living. She was primarily focused in assisted living but she would do that but also she would engage with me on social. Her name and what she was doing really well was front of mind in front of somebody who, really what we do as recruiters, and talent acquisition professionals, we are gatekeepers for an organization. That’s part of one of the hundreds of hats we wear but, yeah, she was engaging with a gatekeeper and pushing her personal brand forward and she benefitted from that.
How important is it, Blake, to identify those gatekeepers, those recruiters, or hiring managers at a particular company that you want to connect with? Can you talk about that?
Yeah, that’s a great question, Mac. I’m going to hearken back to my comments earlier but, it’s very easy to find hiring authorities now. I mean, rewind 12 – 13 years ago it might have been a little more difficult but with the rise of LinkedIn and other social media platforms and beyond, it is very easy to identify who those, not only gatekeepers are, but who those hiring managers could be.
Whenever I am able to connect with those that are looking to either level up their career or “get in at a company,” I always advocate that they connect with those gatekeepers and those hiring authorities online and engage in their content. It allows you to stand out from the rest because, quite frankly, hardly anybody’s doing that.
You’re not just creating content, writing a note, putting it, say, in a bottle and throwing it into the internet ocean and hoping that somebody finds it. You’re actually thinking about who you want these messages to get in front of, aren’t you?
Yeah, there’s a level of intentionality there, or there should be. If you’re really focused on getting in at Nike, for instance, or Adidas, where my wife works, willingly engage with those folks online and it’s, like I said, it’s very easy to find out who these people are because talent acquisition professionals and mid to senior level leaders, they will have a presence online and so you can simply figure out who they are just by basic searching in the search bar on your social media outlet of choice.
Okay, so pay attention to your brand, know where you want to go, and get in front of the people who actually make hiring decisions at those organizations.
I know our listeners are thinking, “Okay, Blake, you’re saying it’s easy to find these people but for a lot of folks it’s a black box, the whole recruiting world.” What are some of your actionable, simple tips about how a listener, say, who wants to work in the sportswear industry or maybe healthcare or the nonprofit world? How do they find the recruiters and the search people in those…in sectors like that?
How to find out who they are?
Yeah, because it’s a big world out there. There are millions of people on LinkedIn, and if you know the sector, or even better: the company, you want to work at, or companies, how do find those recruiters?
That’s a very good question, Mac. Simply put, I’m going to really focus on LinkedIn. Simply put, you would go on the search bar up there and you would type in a company’s name, for instance, Kaiser Permanente. They’re big in the healthcare space here in the Portland market. Putting in Kaiser Permanente, the plus sign, and then recruiter or talent acquisition or let’s just say you wanted to get into a scheduling type role, there might be a scheduling manager job title.
Simply put, that’s what you would do. I kind of want to go back to where I thought you were going to go down in, because I want to bring a lot of value to your audience, Mac.
I get a lot of folks who email me directly and say, “What do you have open?” And I think that’s very lazy. I think the alternative that a job seeker should be doing, in this case, is emailing, “Hey Blake, I recently applied for the community relations director role at your Summer Place Community. I know it’s a sales and marketing role in the assisted living space. I’m very passionate about seniors. I have experience in the sales and marketing space and I have achieved XYZ things.” You know, something quantifiable. “I’m available for an interview Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 8 and 11 o’clock. I’m so excited to talk to you about how I can bring value to your organization.”
See how that message is completely different from the other one? It’s night and day. I am completely more liable or more likely, rather, pardon me, to engage with that individual who said, “Here’s the value that I can bring to your organization and here’s how excited I am.”
People want to work with excited, positive people.
Another thing that stands out for me as I listen to you describe that second message is, someone’s really very clear in a note like that about what they want to do, and when they’re available for an appointment. Makes it easier for you to say yes, doesn’t it?
100%. I think the clearer you can get as to where you’re going, the more success you’ll have. And I mean, we’re talking really macro career development stuff right now but, you know, there’s a lot of people who will email me or reach out to me and say, “Hey, I just want a job in the healthcare space.” Well, that’s very vast, as we all know, here in this room.
Whenever I am able to connect with folks on a more personal level, even outside of work, when I’m connecting with friends or family, I say, “Take time in the classroom of silence, get away from the internet, what you have to do in the family life, professional life.”
Whatever that is for you, whether it’s hiking, for me that’s huge. Whether it’s going to a coffee shop and enjoying tea and coffee and just really sitting down and figuring out, what is going to make me really happy and give me so much intrinsic value that I’m going to stay at this job, with this company for a long time? It’s only until we turn down the noise of life, that we can get clarity.
I mean, we live in a noisy world these days and so I would tell anybody, really figure out what you want to do, and then go after that, just with laser focus.
I love that phrase, “The classroom of silence” because there is a lot of distracting noise out there, isn’t there?
Having a clear idea of where you want to go, I think makes all the difference.
I want to take a break, Blake, because we’ve had a good conversation about getting clear about brand and goals and the people that you want to connect with and so I think our listeners are probably ready to go online but I want to talk about what that looks like in terms of content creation and just maybe day to day.
We’ll be back in a moment, and when we return to the studio, Blake Thiess will continue to share his advice on how to stand out online with employers.
I hope you’re enjoying today’s conversation with Blake Thiess. I think you’ll agree he’s made it clear how important it is to present yourself well online.
But you might be unsure about how to get started doing this. Well, I’ve got a three-part online video course that can help you.
It’s called How to Wow and Woo Employers Online. And it’s free.
You can sign up today. Go to macslist.org/wow.
You’ll learn what employers care most about when they check you out online.
You’ll also get tips about the kinds of content you can create and share that will catch the attention of recruiters.
And you’ll find out about the dos and don’ts of managing your personal and professional social accounts.
Join our course today. Go to macslist.org/wow.
Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Blake Thiess.
He’s the director of talent acquisition for Prestige Care. It’s a skilled nursing and senior care company with more than 85 locations in eight states.
Blake joins us here today, in the studio in Portland.
Blake, before the break, we were talking about, really some foundational work that you’ve got to do before, perhaps, you even get online if you want to attract the attention of employers and recruiters and generate that magical email or phone call that says, “Hey, we’ve got an opportunity here. We’d love to talk to you about it. Are you available?”
The point you were making was, get clear about your personal brands, your goals, companies or sectors you want to work in, and identify the gatekeepers, you called them. The hiring managers, the recruiters, who are making decisions about the positions that a listener has identified that they want.
Now that person is ready to sit down and start creating content for LinkedIn, or FaceBook, or other accounts. How do you recommend people get started, Blake?
Yeah, you know, that’s a great question, Mac. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a writer. I’m one of those weird kids. I actually am doing what I went to school for. I went to school to become an HR professional and now I’m doing it. I am far from a writer myself. I knew, and this is me just personally, if I wanted to “level up” my career, I needed to A) learn how to write very well, but number 2) speak very well in a more public forum and you know, that takes courage.
It takes courage to go out on a limb and do things that we’ve never done before but I think that’s where the good stuff is in life, is out on those limbs of life. For me, it might sound easy but I just sat down and started typing and just let my thoughts flow and say, this is what I have to say on a topic.
In the recruiting world, it’s going to be packaged a little differently but I think the concepts are the same. It’s sitting down and just writing about a topic that you’re passionate about. For me, I always want to bring value to my audience and so I’ve penned blogs and articles that bring value to my audience. All about job seeking for new grad nurses, for instance, or top 5 resume mistakes I see.
It’s finding a topic that you’re really passionate about and just sitting down and letting it fly.
For you, as an HR professional, your audiences are obviously…you want to connect with professionals in the healthcare world, who might be interested in working at Prestige Care, your company, but for a job seeker, they want to do something different, or like you, share their expertise, don’t they?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, find out what you’re really good at and just let your ideas flow on that topic, that industry, some trends you’re seeing, what you think is coming up in the future. I think that’s really key so you can be viewed as a really, quite frankly, Mac, a subject matter expert in the industry. Whatever that is for you.
Okay, now, creating content is hard, even for people like us who write all the time. I do and I gather from our conversation that you’re now doing it almost every day as well, but for people who don’t write every day, what do you recommend they do in terms of…they probably aren’t going to crank out a blog a week but when you think about the job seekers or professionals that successfully stand out for you online who aren’t professional writers, what kind of content are they creating, Blake?
Yeah, I don’t think that you need to make it harder than it’s meant to be. It could be even a simple posting a quote, it can be posting a response to an article you read or a documentary that you watched on Netflix, for instance. Just responding and putting your voice out there. It could be a quick little hit about something. You don’t need to make it harder than it needs to be. Sometimes I’ll just post, for instance, on LinkedIn yesterday, I’ll just post a quote, or, pardon me, just a quick job seeking hit. I think that the thing I posted, Mac, was, “Whenever you’re interviewing, always smile. People want to collaborate and hire other high-energy, positive people.”
It’s just something really quick like that, and it got a lot of engagement.
Yeah, so, you can post quotes or even short updates about what might be happening in your field or at a professional meeting. What about frequency, Blake? Again, when you…you’re online all the time, and when you see professionals that might one day be candidates for jobs at your company or in your field, are they posting every day, once a week?
Yeah, great question, and to kind of hearken back to your previous question, it could be, also, Mac, it could be an article that you read and you just reposted, for instance, and just like, a quick sentence, “Here’s my response to this article.” It can be something as easy as that. Make it relevant to the industry that you’re trying to get in or the space that you’re in for instance.
When we think about frequency, honestly, Mac, I think content is king. I think the more frequent you post, the better because at the end of the day, as a job seeker, you want to be visible because if you’re not visible, by definition, you are invisible, and you want to stand out from the crowd. I would say on LinkedIn, 2, 3, 4 times a day. I mean, I would say that that’s a little extreme but it might get you noticed.
Okay, but I can hear listeners out there thinking to themselves, “I’m doomed. I don’t have that amount of time, Blake. Should I even try if I can’t post 2, 3, 4 times a day on LinkedIn or another social channel?”
I think you try. I think you have to try because if you aren’t trying then you’re just going to be like everybody else, in my opinion, so yeah, maybe not 2, 3, 4 times a day, but try to get in a cadence. I mean, I have a schedule next to my desk. You know, on Mondays I’ll post something like this. On Tuesdays, I’ll post something like that.
I think if you get in a cadence, it becomes easier.
Okay, and I just want to come back to why this makes a difference because you and your fellow recruiters and HR managers, you’re on LinkedIn every day, aren’t you?
Absolutely. I mean, I have my applicant tracking system up and then the next tab over is LinkedIn and other social networks, absolutely.
You do pay attention to what pops up in your feed and the people who appear there regularly, don’t you?
Absolutely, absolutely we do. I mean, that’s really just the crux of our conversation, Mac. It’s those that are visible that are bringing value to the space and show their expertise in the space. Those are the ones that get noticed.
Okay, and how should people, in addition to sharing information about developments in their industry or opinions about trends in their professional world, how should they talk about themselves?
There’s a really fine line, you know, where you don’t want to come off as, for lack of a better term, Mac, braggy, but I would say you just want to bring your expertise in the space or really share what you’re doing.
Here’s a great example: I’m going to share that I had a conversation with you and I’m bringing value to Mac’s audience and it’s not for my own vanity because I could care less about that, it’s all about documenting the cool things that I’m able to do and the great value I’m able to bring to the space.
Okay, so, talk about accomplishments and involvement in professional events, but any don’ts that you recommend people keep in mind?
Yeah, I mean, I guess I would say, you have to take extreme ownership and accountability for your career. No one is going to illuminate your success; most managers, leaders, aren’t going to do that. You have to be your own advocate. I think that’s so important and it’s not being…you just have to be your own advocate because no one’s going to do it for you.
Back to your question about some of the don’ts…you know, I would steer clear of anything political online. I would steer clear of any sort of potential insights or opinions that might rock the boat, as it were. I think you always keep it professional. I think your online life and offline life really should be aligned, is what I would say to that.
We’ve been talking a lot about LinkedIn, Blake; do you have recommendations about other social channels that might matter to recruiters? For example, Twitter or even FaceBook.
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think Twitter isn’t that big for recruiting. By my own admission, I’ve never recruited somebody off of Twitter; certainly, it can happen. I know in some industries, I know in tech, you know, there’s Twitter chats, things of that nature, so that’s a great way to connect, potentially, with hiring authorities. I mean, it’s the same thing as LinkedIn but kind of packaged a little differently. You put in your two cents on a topic because Twitter really is an ongoing conversation, just online. I think there’s some opportunities for job seekers there, especially if they interact, not only with the hiring authority but with the brand.
For instance, we have a Jobs at Prestige Twitter handle, we can level that up a lot I’ll say that, but you know interacting with a brand on all social channels can really help get you noticed.
Okay, and 2 things I want to touch on that we didn’t at the start of the conversation, we kind of took them for granted but it is, when recruiters are looking at candidates, they do pay attention to everything that a candidate has posted online. Including things that might be unflattering. You talked about political opinions. That’s really important to recruiters, isn’t it, what they find out online about a candidate?
Absolutely, and we live in such a digital world anymore, that it’s out there, so I would strongly encourage any job seeker, especially when you’re starting a job search and you’re an active job seeker, really get your social media channels in alignment and make sure you’re not posting content, photos, videos, what have you, that could be construed as something that would not allow you to see success or make people think you’re not a strong candidate or a strong professional.
Really err on the side of caution, I would say.
Okay, and also, you kind of take it for granted as a recruiter that people will have an online presence. Is that a red flag for you, if someone doesn’t have a LinkedIn account?
Honestly, it isn’t. One of my best friends is a dentist in my home town of Salem, he has no social media presence at all. So, it’s becoming more rare, right? But it wouldn’t preclude anybody from employment. I think you use social media, as a job seeker, as a tool.
Well, Blake, what’s next for you?
Yeah, great question. I think for me it’s just sharing the Prestige Care story. We’re family-owned and operated, and have been around for over 30 years. We’re headquartered here in the Portland area, just over the river in Vancouver, Washington, and [I’m excited to] just be able to connect with people.
Talking about the great healthcare career opportunities that we have at Prestige and beyond and really just our strong “promote from within” culture, and we have some really exciting projects that I’m working on. Including a formalized internship program. We’re looking at paying for people to go from LPN to RN, for instance. We have free CNA classes at Prestige.
Really kind of honing those things into a nice digestible format. It’s a really exciting time at Prestige. We’re doing some phenomenal work.
Well, terrific. I know people can learn more about your company and those programs and opportunities at Prestige by visiting prestigecare.com/careers.
Well, Blake, given all the useful tips you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want our audience to remember when they think about how to stand out online and attract those employers and recruiters?
That’s a really good question, Mac. I think I would, to that question, I would say be overly active. Put in your two cents over and over and over and ultimately, be visible. I think that is just so key and do it at scale. Especially if you’re between jobs. You know, just because you post something or comment or like something, does not mean that you’re going to get noticed. You have to continually do this. You have to continually keep trying, keep trying and keep engaging and I think those that do that over time, at scale, are getting the wins.
Terrific. Well, thank you, Blake.
One word stood out for me in my conversation with Blake: focus. If you’re going to get online, you can’t create and post content willy-nilly. You need to know what you want, who you want to reach, what you want to say, and you’ve got to pay attention to your personal brand.
There’s a strategy that has to drive that and when you think about everything involved, it might seem overwhelming to you.
If you’re not sure how to get started with creating an online presence that’s going to generate those calls from employers and recruiters, we’ve got a class that can help.
It’s called How to Wow and Woo Employers Online.
It’s three parts, they’re relatively short, just 10 or 15 minutes, and it’s a video class.
You can get it today by going to macslist.org/wow.
Again, it’s free. macslist.org/wow.
Well, thanks for joining us this week and I hope you’ll return next week when our guest will be Chris Villanueva. He’ll talk about how to deal with gaps in your resume.
Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.