The Biggest Changes to Your Job Search

I was watching Back to the Future II the other day and noticed that “the future” on that infamous Delorean dashboard was 2015. 2015! Where are the hoverboards? Is anyone working on that? (actually, yes!) I find it hard to believe that we are in the year 2015 when 2005 feels like just yesterday.

In thinking of how quickly the last ten years have flown by, it dawned on me that this period has brought about some significant changes in handling a job search. As such, we present to you The Top Three Biggest Advancements in Job Searches, along with how to make some small changes to ensure these new developments work for you.

 

3) LinkedIn: It goes without saying that LinkedIn is one of the job search landscape’s biggest changes in recent years. While some regard it as the “professional Facebook” (not true!) and the profile as “just an online resume,” (also not true!) there is so much more to this significant career platform.

Scary Part: Not everyone loves LinkedIn and many more have just a very basic presence on there, believing they have fulfilled the LinkedIn requirement. Think again! People will look for you on LinkedIn and either not showing up or appearing like you don’t understand it can very easily work against you.

Make it Work for You: We suggest that you, regardless of level or sector, have a presence on LinkedIn and learn at least the basics of how it works, how hiring managers and recruiters use it, as well as a few “best practices” for effective LinkedIn profiles and messaging.

 

2) Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): Not sure what an ATS is? Have you ever applied for a job on-line? If so (and that is the case for most at this point), your resume ­– and whole application – was automatically scanned by a computer program and scored based on how many key words in your application matched the key words for the job description. That score determines if your resume is sent to a hiring manger.

Scary Part: While you may be an excellent fit for a specific role, if your key words don’t match up, you are unlikely to move forward in the process (at least, if you only apply online).

Make it Work for You: Online job searches are great for researching what companies are hiring and you may have to apply online to at least be in their system. Take a second and tweak your resume to reflect their keywords before submitting it; small changes can have a big impact.

Additionally, and this is huge, go beyond applying online and connect with people directly at the organization to learn more about the role and company that can be helpful during an interview should you progress to that part of the process. The mini-goal? Start a conversation ­­– via email or LinkedIn – with an internal source; once you have an “in,” the ATS results won’t matter!

 

1) Social Media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter are now just the basics; Instagram, Vine, and Tumblr are all the rage and who knows what social media platform will be knocking on your digital door tomorrow? Some clients find that knowledge of these platforms are helpful for their job search and others find it to be either a hindrance or not really a source for leads…or is it that they don’t know where to look?

Scary Part: Social media can work for most in terms of finding opportunities (see “Make it Work for You” below) but everyone, everyone needs to put their profile privacy settings on high (for each profile you have) and think twice about what you post. What seems like a good idea in the moment can work against you if you forget that not all of your connections care to see what you did last weekend or are interested in your political leanings.

Make it Work For You: If you are in a sector where knowledge of social media should be on your profile (i.e., advertising, digital marketing, etc.) or are applying to a social media company (a role at Facebook or Twitter, for example), make sure to include knowledge of social platforms on your resume as well as start using said platform more frequently. Companies can track these things and do like to see organic, true familiarity with the platforms themselves.

For everyone else, source leads by identifying some companies you wish to target for your job search and start following them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (at least). Interact with the companies and see with whom you can directly connect. Social media is a beautiful thing if you actually use it for digitally – and strategically – socializing!

 

Bonus! Smart Phones & Tablets: Ah, my iPhone; I don’t leave home without. Know the feeling? So do most hiring managers and recruiters; hiring work is often done on the fly these days, and that includes reviewing resumes for open roles. How does that impact you? See below:

Scary Part: Most “before” resumes that come my way need formatting work in addition to content overhauls. Poor formats are tough enough to read on a regular computer or laptop; add a smaller screen to the mix and your resume will likely head to the “trash” box in a matter of seconds.

Make it Work for You: If you know your resume format is a bit lacking, make some minor modifications to ensure it is visually appealing while still conservative. Some easy changes include updating the font to a sans serif (Calibri and Arial are easy on the eyes), selectively bolding a few key words or phrases that indicate your effectiveness or accomplishments, and using darker, muted colored bullet points (like dark blue or green) can jazz up even the most boring of resumes. Don’t forget to always send a PDF­­ ­­– Word documents can look different from device to device but PDFs are frozen!

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to find a Kickstarter campaign for some of the other Back to the Future inventions that we NEED; who’s in to fund some self-tying shoes? They would look great on a hoverboard!

 

Please note that a version of this post was featured on the Job Hero blog.

 

LinkedIn Series – Expert Power

Career advancement is what we all strive for. Using LinkedIn can be a very helpful tool to show how you’re an expert in your field. Staying current is necessary for both currently employed professionals and individuals searching for employment. That brings us to a very important question:  Actually, have you ever even noticed it?

LinkedIn truly is like the professional Facebook (but so help me G-d if they introduce a chat function); there is now a newsfeed-esque component that you see right when you log in to LinkedIn and that is fed by what goes into your Activity feed and those of your Connections. Go to your profile and look at your Activity feed–we’ll wait.

See it? My guess is that the feed is mostly full of, “You are connected to so-and-so” and the occasional, “You are not following xyz company.” Yawn. That filters directly into the Newsfeed of all your connections and they are likely skipping right over it. Why not REALLY utilize this section and indicate your sector knowledge in the process? Post relevant articles!

You might find it a challenge, being that there are already not enough hours in the day, to post a bazillion articles. Good news: it’s quality over quantity. All you need is a minimum of five minutes per WEEK to utilize LinkedIn for posting relevant news articles and trends that are emerging in your sector. Why would you do this? Three letters: SME. To be a Subject Matter Expert, and to communicate that expertise via LinkedIn is a subtle–but strategic–opportunity to broadcast just how knowledgeable you are of your particular industry.

If you are currently employed it’s not a suggestion but a necessity to know current and future trends. It isn’t only important for you–the professional–but also for your company. Your expert power will speak volumes to your commitment with the company/sector and it will more likely than not give you a better understanding of how your sector is evolving.

If you are not employed, LinkedIn serves as a platform allowing you to connect with the professional world without having to step into an office. Right from home, while your search for a job continues, you can boost your LinkedIn presence by posting relevant articles to your LinkedIn profile. Others will be able to view them and get an understanding of your expert power within a given industry.

In doing so, you are still demonstrating your SME-ness via LinkedIn and that can work wonders for your job search. Hiring managers and recruiters will see this about you and that, alone, can increase the likelihood that they will reach out to connect. The main idea is to continue to grow professionally regardless if you’re employed or not.  Every time you post something on LinkedIn, you are upping the ante on just how savvy you are and the powers that be will respond in kind.

Now that you are up-to-speed on how post sector-specific newsworthy info to your LinkedIn profile, let’s move on to why you want Siskel & Ebert to give your profile two thumbs up!

Until next time, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Profile Basics & Your Resume

You have your basic LinkedIn profile set up and have included (please) a snazzy headshot, but how do you work in your resume? Should your profile and resume match? Although your resume is an important part of your LinkedIn profile, they’re not the same thing. In fact, the two are more like supportive siblings than identical twins: they should complement one another but not match (exception: your basic contact and job info should always be consistent between the two!).

While completing your LinkedIn profile, keep in mind that it should be a good self-representation of where you want to go with your career while indicating that you have the foundation for it (again, similar to your resume…but not identical). Your profile should be straight to the point, but unique at the same time. Remember that others will be viewing your profile. It is a good idea for someone else (who knows you and your work) to review it and provide constructive feedback to ensure you are on the right track. View your LinkedIn profile as your image. Build it accordingly to create a powerful reflection.

Once you have the work/education basics in place, it is time to flesh it out with details. Concentrate on your accomplishments for each role and provide context if that would suit your needs. Additionally, indicate your Core Competencies in the Summary section (though they will be referenced again in the Skills/Expertise section; more on that later!).  Remember to read our post on Resume Don’ts (parts I and II); though it’s true that the two should not be identical, many of our guidelines here still ring true for LinkedIn!

We have much to cover regarding LinkedIn profiles–today’s post barely scratches the surface on how to handle the basic profile. Next up:

  • Creating a strong summary and how to obtain a unique URL.

Other upcoming profile topics include:

  • The importance of outside validation and strategies for obtaining it.
  • Why projects matter and how to work them in to your profile.
  • An overview on increasing your “Subject Matter Expert” presence and why you want to do that at all.

After we cover the profile, we’ll move into the amazing features built into LinkedIn and discuss how to maximize your usage of each one. Until then, remember, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Resource For Success

If there is a heaven on earth for HR managers and recruiters, it is definitely LinkedIn. Over the last several years LinkedIn has quietly moprhed into a vibrant resource for job-seeking and networking professionals.

Why is LinkedIn such a powerful tool in today’s job world? For almost every professional at any level and within (arguably) most every sector, LinkedIn is largely considered the best online professional networking tool out there. It allows you to create a powerful profile in which, if filled out correctly, will display your strengths and experiences as well as best position you for your target audience. Additionally, the platform allows for extensive research into sectors, companies, and people on top of its key messaging system, job board options, and additional perks just for being a member of the site (and a non-paying one at that).

The question remains, though: are you maximizing LinkedIn for your professional development purposes? Moreover, is your profile truly effective? Have you learned effective messaging techniques to utilize in connecting with people? Do you even know what those Skills/Expertise Endorsements are used for and how important they are to recruiters? LinkedIn is more than just a profile platform and it is in your best interest to know how to best utilize it for your future needs.

Stayed tuned and check back to our LinkedIn Series for some key tips essential for your success story using LinkedIn. We will be discussing a range of related topics that will be vital to your ongoing career success; some of our topics will include how to strategically improve your profile, understanding the logic behind your Skills/Expertise (and the endorsements that come with those), the most effective techniques out there for connecting with people, and so much more!

Of course, don’t forget to connect with us on, what else, LinkedIn! Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

Yahoo!’s Big Gamble: The Workplace Flexibility Conundrum

With more and more companies offering workplace flexibility, it came as a shock that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer issued a memo late last month explaining that the company would require all of its employees to come into the office instead of working from home. This decision has received plenty of heat, with some calling the policy change “short-sighted”, “going backwards” and an “epic fail”. After all, 24% of Americans reported working from home at least a few hours per week and 63% of employers reported they allowed employees to work remotely.

Even though allowing workers to telecommute may save the company money in a sluggish economy, some firms are noticing definite drawbacks to having an emptier office. Studies have indicated that employees who work from home are more productive but less innovative – apparently, employees interacting with one another can lead to more new ideas and faster decision making. For a struggling company like Yahoo, having employees in the same place could mean the difference between growth and stagnation.

Job applicants shouldn’t always assume their future workplace will embrace workplace flexibility. It may be an attractive option to work from your couch all day, but it may not be the best decision for your career. Often, employees who primarily work from home miss out on crucial decisions and also may be passed over for promotions or special opportunities partly because they are much less visible in the office environment.

Recent college graduates and young professionals may be searching for jobs with greater opportunities to work from home, but Mayer may have started a trend with more companies focusing on keeping people in the workplace. Workplace flexibility must be kept in balance with other job aspects – how important is it to you to work at home compared to the possibility of job security or career growth? Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important, but no job will be perfect and in this economy, sacrificing working from home just might be necessary.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Proven App: Can You Trust It?

It seems like there’s an app for everything recently – with the help of your smart phone or tablet, you can order Chipotle, check the weekly coupons for Publix and find the nearest ATM. Now you can even find a job on the go with the new Proven application.

Users can browse Craigslist job postings, upload their resume and cover letter and apply right from their computer or iPhone. So far, Proven has received great reviews from users for being easy to use and the numbers speak for themselves – 18K users downloaded Proven in January. Proven received 5 out of 5 stars from users on the iTunes store and the updated version allows users to sync accounts on their phone and computer.

While using the Proven app may seem like the new frontier in finding a job, it also has its limitations. Although the app makes it easy to send resumes and cover letters to potential employers, it also is restricted to positions posted on Craigslist. Not all job postings on the site are exactly what they seem and there is often a larger concentration in service industry job postings. This may require more in-depth searches to find a legitimate posting that is well-suited for an employee. Jobs on Craigslist also represent only a fraction of available jobs, so Proven is not a one-stop-shop in finding your next job.

With other job search apps like JobMo, Job Aware and Ultimate Job Search gaining in popularity, it seems like thousands of people are taking advantage of the convenience of applying for jobs on the go. As so many aspects of our lives are virtual nowadays, it makes sense that we would use technology to apply for jobs. Keep in mind that your online presence should also be kept up to date to best utilize the Internet in your job search. With RYS’ Social Media services, we can help you put your best foot forward in your online job search.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

LinkedIn for the 1%: Yay or Nay?

With the popularity of social media in networking, it’s no surprise that users are increasingly establishing professional connections through sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook. While these sites can be incredibly useful for exploring potential job or partnership opportunities, there are many high-level executives who have a LinkedIn profile typically only updated by their staff – rendering it useless in terms of trying to network with the actual CEOs or CFOs. Now, a new site called Relationship Science is looking to make it easy to connect with the 1%, all for a small fee of $3K .

The upcoming launch of this site, described in this New York Times article, will enable users to enter a CEO’s name and see what kind of primary, secondary, or tertiary connections they already have to said CEO from the users’ own contacts. The search results will show how people are connected (“friend”, “friend of a friend”, etc) and will also judge the strength of the connection, from “strong” to “weak”. Relationship Science won’t post phone numbers or emails of its users, because as RS founder Neal Goldman points out, “This isn’t about spamming people.”

While this may seem like a great service, is it really worth it? Yes and no. For some, Relationship Science can show them connections to bigwigs they never knew existed. These contacts could be the key to being able to get a meeting or interview with the higher-ups, leading to career advancement. Unlike sites like LinkedIn where people need to create their own profile in order to interact on the site, Relationship Science uses the Internet, not the user, to gather information. This means you can still find connections with a company president without he or she having to put their own contacts on the website first.

On the other hand, not everyone needs to engage in this level of networking, and the price tag might not be worth it for most people in the workforce. Another good point is that even though you discover new connections, there’s no guarantee that anyone will respond to you.

What’s the bottom line? While Relationship Science may be worth it for a specific group of people, more often than not, real networking occurs in the real world. Attend networking events, actively update your LinkedIn profile and get to know your colleagues. In short, Always Be Networking! Refresh Your Step’s Networking Skills services can help you maximize opportunities to establish professional connections and career possibilities!

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

LinkedIn: The Ugly Duckling Gets the Last Quack

While our blog has made LinkedIn a focus on several occasions (most recently, here), a recent Wall Street Journal article provides further evidence of how powerful a tool the site can be when used effectively. Though some of the initial points focused on outperformance of the company’s stock since its IPO relative to some of its social media peers,  perhaps the more relevant information for job seekers is the article’s take on what has driven the company’s market capitalization  to more than quadruple since 2011 compared to decreases of 25%-60% for social media “darlings” Facebook, Groupon and Zynga.

 

This article’s main point is that companies both large (i.e.  PepsiCo and Starbucks) and small are devoting an increasing amount of time and resources to find applicants across a wide variety of industries and experience levels. Why? Because LinkedIn’s “pool of candidates is so  large and resumes tend to be more actively fleshed out and updated versus rival job sites and social networks.” What’s more, the article goes on to say, “LinkedIn also specializes in connecting companies with people who may not be looking for a job,” which can be appealing to a company.

 

What does this mean for those of us that don’t care as much about the company’s stock price? As LinkedIn attracts more users and expands its business lines, your LinkedIn presence is as critical as ever. Think that just means updating your profile with your latest job? Think again. There is much more to it and we can help. Whether in person or online and over the phone, we will ensure that you have the tools to maximize the benefits LinkedIn has to offer.

 

Are You Part of LinkedIn’s 5%?

Were you one of the lucky LinkedIn users who received this email?

While you may have at first been thrilled to receive this email, your excitement may or may not have diminished once you realized 10 million other LinkedIn users also saw the same email in their inbox. After so many users were told they are pretty popular on the leading professional social media site, it left many thinking – was the email just a clever marketing ploy or something to be proud of?

Millions of professionals took to their Facebook or Twitter pages to brag about receiving the LinkedIn email, leading to the email story going viral (and lots of free publicity for LinkedIn!). Although many were quick to let others know how popular they were, many more LinkedIn users were skeptical.

“I was thoroughly irritated by that mail. It felt very spammy, a blatant attempt to appeal to narcissism, and not entirely credible. If I’m one of the top 5% most viewed profiles, and I’ve never generated any work as a result of my presence on LinkedIn, then what does that say about LinkedIn?”

“Maybe I expect a little more out of LinkedIn. But in the last couple of days, I got a congratulatory email telling me that I was “one of the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012!” This I seriously doubt. I’m wondering if this is not some kind of a psychological play on their part. In other words, if you find out you’re good at something that you didn’t know about, then it gives you a little boost to go look at it again. And there’s a click for LinkedIn.”

While there are no statistics on who exactly received the email, no college students I know received the email (neither did I!), but Emily Kapit, Lead Resume Writer and Owner of RYS, did. This fact lends credence to the “top 5%” email because it’s highly unlikely that established professionals would be competing with college students for top-viewed honors. In fact, college students are probably the ones looking at professionals’ LinkedIn pages in hopes of connecting with the right people in an effort to secure a great job.

What’s the bottom line of this story? Although this LinkedIn email may have been a nice ego boost, it’s far from an accomplishment worthy of putting on your resume. That being said, having an up-to-date, professional LinkedIn profile will help attract more views, which can lead to more opportunities in your career. RYS is here to help you with our Social Media services to make your social media presence the best it can be. With the help of RYS, you can challenge Presisdent Barack Obama (with 525K+ views in 2012) for the title of Most Viewed LinkedIn Profile of 2013 and wouldn’t that be quite the resume-worthy feat?

It’s Your Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Bored During the Blizzard? We’re Here to Help

With a blizzard about to hit the Northeast, there will be thousands of employees unable to commute to work. While some may be able to work from home, there will be others who are planning on filling their snow days with drinking hot chocolate and catching up on the last season of “Mad Men”. While you should certainly schedule time to relax on the upcoming snowy days, you should also think about using part of your time off to further your career. By just taking out a little bit of your day, you can still be productive in between snowball fights. Here are a few ideas:

  • Update your LinkedIn profile – make sure your photo is appropriate, your skills are up to date and you haven’t missed any connections.   As long as you are thinking about your social media presence, ensure that your Facebook profile settings are maxed out and don’t forget to Google yourself.
  • Check for any advancements in your field – are there any new companies, professional development opportunities or possible changes (mergers, big industry news, etc)? Just being more informed can help you stay ahead in your career; not to mention, you will look extra-informed to the powers-that-be if you show how you go that extra mile to keep up with the company and sector’s current events.
  • Take a few moments to organize and make sure you’re prepared for the week ahead. Are there any projects that need finishing? Any meetings you need to prepare for? By using just a little of your snow day to get ahead, you’ll be ready to go when the roads clear.

Of course, make sure that you use your snow days to relax – read that book that’s been on your shelf for months, reconnect with your family and friends or just watch the snow come down. Making time for your career–especially when you are not under real pressure to do so–can help you go back to work refreshed and prepared. Or, said another way, refreshed, revived, and renewed!

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern