For job seekers, this means a change in job-search approach. Rather than the "find a job" mentality, job seekers must focus on being found. Recruiters are holding the proverbial glass slipper -- looking for the perfect match to open positions. Are social media and web tools the digital fairy godmother that introduces you? Here are ways to make it easier for a recruiter to discover you:
1. Expand your glass slipper's footprint. Posting your resume on mega-job boards and searching for open positions on these boards is only a point of entry for job searches today. It's a foundation -- but it isn't a very strategic or holistic approach. To broaden your digital footprint, start with this checklist: Do you appear on LinkedIn? Twitter? Facebook? Delicious? YouTube or Vimeo? Flickr? Do you have a blog, using sites such as TypePad, WordPress, Blogger?
For an even wider presence, create your own website and register a personal URL for yourself; sites such as GoDaddy.com make it very easy and inexpensive to do. There are also services that offer HTML resume solutions like ResumeBuilder.com and VisualCV. By posting your resume as its own web page, recruiters have a better chance of finding it through a Boolean search.
Once your digital footprint is established, include your information on your e-mail signature to increase connections with those in your network. Cross-post your digital-footprint links on multiple sites. Is your Twitter feed posted on your LinkedIn profile? Is your LinkedIn profile posted on your blog? And so on. Most people still have personal preferences of the social media site they visit the most. The wider your reach, the more likely it is that the right people will find you.
2. Define your magic keywords. A recruiter isn't going to find you by your name. They search based on skills, experience, your work history. Take the time to think it through: If someone conducts a search on Google, Bing or a social-media site to find you, what keywords will they use? Which key descriptors specify your unique skills and where you're located?
Start out with 10 words. Include items such as your title, region, area of expertise and your industry. Once you define these words, make sure they appear on all of your digital profiles. Conduct your own keyword audit to check the reach of your digital footprint. Do all of these words appear in the profiles that describe you to a potential employer? If so, that will make it easier to find you.
3. Customize your handle. If your name is common, think about how you might make it more unique. Can you include your middle initial? Maybe initial your first name or perhaps use your full middle name? If you've taken on a married name, does it make sense to use your maiden name as well -- and hyphenate? As an example, if we search for "Traci Armstrong," we find 9,740 results on Google. But, at the risk of snickers, if we initial the first name and use her married last name "T. Ann Cakebread," the results are far more selective: four!
Be cautious, however, on what name you create for yourself: Don't choose something that makes it difficult for people to identify you. And, whatever identity you choose, be consistent so you appear the same everywhere you post.
Another great tool at your disposal is the vanity URL. Many sites offer this feature; both Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to customize your profile in this way, adding your name to your link. You can claim yours on Facebook or, on LinkedIn, click edit on the Public Profile featured in your profile settings. There is an option at the top of this page that allows you to edit your URL.
Job seekers should also take advantage of signing up for a free Google Profile. This allows you better control of how people see you when you appear in Google -- and increases the likelihood you will appear if someone searches you by name by expanding your footprint in yet another direction.
4. Don't be a wallflower. Having a presence on a social-media site without participating is like going to the ball without dancing. Not much fun and no interaction. The key to successful engagement is to create authentic content and connect with others. The more involved you are in dialogue relating to your expertise area, the greater the chance your dialogue has in showing up in a search engine.
There are tools that make it easier to monitor the conversations of those you'd like to be hired by -- try Seesmic for Twitter, Google Alerts for broad web search or Technorati for blogging entries. When you find a discussion you feel comfortable joining, participate. Most bloggers are desperate to find good, consistent content. In situations where you can lend authentic, credible expertise and opinion, offer to guest blog.
5. Use blogs to show off more than just writing. If you're a writer, blogs are a terrific way to showcase your writing. But blogs can also flaunt visually creative work. If you're a photographer, illustrator or designer, post your recent work on a blog and describe it in short detail. Tag your visuals with keywords that could lead someone looking for your visual style to your posting. Use the vertical your visual category is for (such as automotive or consumer package goods), the style, the client as key words. Well-known blogging sites like Typepad and Wordpress allow for video postings -- if you're a film or video producer, post reels of your work on your blog. And then, make sure all of your digital profiles link to your blog, driving traffic to it and improving your Google ranking.
One rule of thumb: Any time you post something on your blog, invite your connections from social-media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to read your posting. And forward a link of your postings to influencers: those that have a strong following themselves and may pass your info along.
6. Tweet and encourage re-tweets. Encourage re-tweets with a trackable URL shortener and keep your tweet short. Remember, the more click-throughs to any site within your digital footprint will increase your Google ranking. When promoting your social-media postings through Twitter, Organic's group director-search, Marshall Clark, recommends keeping your original tweet well below the 140-character limit.
7. Join groups. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter's group version, Twibes. Look for like-minded people in your industry and find ways to interact. Be open about your job search, join discussions, answer questions and post links to valuable content you may be blogging about.
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