The first major report on the importance of social media in the hiring process came out in 2009. Careerbuilder.com revealed that 80% of hiring managers use social media in some capacity to make a decision. Yet despite this early evidence, most of us in the career space continued with our comfortable trinity of resumes, cover letters and consulting. I’m sure you’ve found that by now, it’s not just statistics telling you the importance of social media, but your clients are probably demanding it as well. Sure, resume writers can re-do LinkedIn profiles. But is that really the panacea for this sea change? I would argue not. Throwing a LinkedIn profile makeover at this problem is like trying to fill a bucket with an eyedropper.
The hiring managers I speak to are far too busy to scour the internet to find qualified candidates. In fact, we hear about the skills-gap at the same time we hear about massive unemployment. The main reason for this is that companies are as unskilled at finding qualified workers as job seekers are at finding companies to work for.
A proper social media strategy requires a plan, an execution of that plan, and an evaluation of its results. Here is a three-step plan I’ve used with clients that works over and over again. Feel free to apply these steps to your own social media presence, and then share with your clients.
At my local unemployment office, they offer job seekers a LinkedIn profile building class. However, most of the people in that class have no idea what they want to do. When asked, “What makes you different”? They will not have an answer. It’s impossible to build a compelling online presence for a client when the client has no idea what their market position is. Some people call this “personal branding”. However, I find that the words “personal positioning” work much better.
Take a moment to answer the following question: What makes you the best at what you do? Think about a time when you were the most successful in your career. Perhaps it was placing a difficult client in a job that changed their life. Perhaps it was when you made it on TV. What was your role in that success?
There are many career professionals looking for more business. Just as there are many job seekers looking for their next job. Without clarity about what makes you different, it’s going to be hard to build a strong online reputation.
Looking really good online is an easy goal to accomplish. It really doesn’t have to take that much time or be very complicated at all. Remember the three keys of any online profile. LinkedIn is a perfect example, but these principles can be applied to all social networks.
Your Picture: The idea with posting your picture, or that of your client, is to align the image with your positioning statement. If your listening skills differentiate you, strike a pose to convey listening. Use soft, warm colors. If your client is highly analytical, give him a bright background and tell him to look piercingly at the camera.
You headline: LinkedIn’s headline is not a place for just job titles. That’s what people do when they translate a resume to an online profile. Actually, your headline is your 120 character sales pitch. You might consider something more differentiated than “Career Professional”. Perhaps, “My clients find jobs 2.5 times faster using my methods” etc.
Your summary: on LinkedIn the profile summary is typically what someone reads to learn more about you. It’s a narrative. It’s the explanation of what you said in your headline. Tell your story and avoid bullet points. With any social network, the more authentic you can be the better. So use the first person. A career coach friend shifted from 3rd to 1st person and increased her business by three new calls a week.
With a clear position, and a nice looking online presence, it’s time to step out of the comfort zone and begin reaching out to prospects. For your clients this means doing some research on LinkedIn’s company pages to find organizations they may like to work for. Then finding informational interview sources to begin networking.
As a career practitioner, you can use this same principle to find new clients. Here’s how:
Head on over to an advanced People search in LinkedIn
Search for people who use the word “seeking” in their profile somewhere. Typically, if people are advertising that they are seeking, they’re probably having a hard time finding work.
Connect or inMail with them. Use your positioning statement to demonstrate your value and how you can help them do better online by following this three step process.
Take the Next Step
Offering social networking in your business can be a rewarding way to serve your clients as well as open new revenue streams. Don’t let simple LinkedIn profile makeover solutions lead you to believe this is a simple matter. But also don’t let the size of this technology overwhelm you. You can begin to use this clear and repeatable strategy for yourself and for your clients now.
Because social media is important for your clients, and for your business, I’m offering a four week social media fireside chat. This virtual conference call is open to just 200 independent career professionals to discuss your questions, concerns and needs with social media. Calls will be held on 9/6, 9/13, 9/20 and 9/27. Once you register you will be invited to join any of these sessions. Register for the Coaching Social Media for Career Professionals fireside here: http://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EF57DD85884B
Joshua Waldman is an Author, Speaker and Trainer specializing in helping people re-gain control of their careers in today’s economic and technology climate. As the author of “Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies”, he enjoys presenting keynotes and workshops on personal branding, online reputation and advanced LinkedIn strategy. With the mission of helping professionals break away from outdated and ineffective job-searching strategies, he runs CareerEnlightenment.com, a successful career blog. Joshua has been featured on ABC News, CBS, Forbes, Mashable, and International Business Times. For more information about Joshua or his book visit: http://careerenlightenment.com/book