As I take a break from working on the first batch of resumes for 2013 (the world didn’t end…yet), I think about how thankful I am (and you should be) for the internet (and Al Gore or whomever else invented it) and subsequent proliferation of online resources. To celebrate the fifth day of the new year, here are five simple (and perhaps obvious but important nonetheless) ways to use the internet in achieving your career goals.
1. Take Control of Your Social Media: Google yourself and search for yourself on Facebook, (and while you are at it, Friendster, Myspace and Livejournal [for those of you who that know what those are]). As I have mentioned in a previous post and reiterate to my clients all of the time, maintaining a respected social media presence is critical for career development, especially as more and more HR departments incorporate online searches into their recruiting process. Better that you find an unflattering picture of yourself or inappropriate blog post from 5 years ago than someone recruiting you for an opportunity.
2. Research! Use sits such as glassdoor.com to learn more about specific industries that may be of interest to you. Sites like these contain very helpful information including job descriptions and general compensation parameters that you can use prepare for interviews or explore other industries if you are looking to make a switch.
3. Research Some More! While it goes without saying that company websites should be a critical part of any job search or interviewing process, take it a step further and make sure you visit news outlets (WSJ.com, NYTimes and Yahoo Finance among others) to obtain relevant company and industry news and information that may not be on the company’s website. Doing so will not only demonstrate that you have taken a sincere interest in the organization but can also give you the edge to make your cover letter or interview stand out. Bonus tip: remember to review investor reports and filings for publicly traded companies as they can contain useful information about a company’s performance as well as data on new business lines.
4. LinkedIn, FTW. As I have also recommended in the past, LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful tool when used correctly. Once you are satisfied with your profile (don’t worry if you aren’t, we can help!), use the site to join industry group and connect with colleagues and friends, which can significantly increase your own network and therefore allow you to facilitate introductions with relevant contacts. Networking with professionals can give you a credible “in” with someone at a company in which you are interested and provide “insider” knowledge that can make you stand out from a pool of other well-qualified applicants.
5. Alumni Awesomeness. Remember college? Those carefree days of class, parties, and hanging out with friends? Want to relive those days? Buy a time machine. Want to at least use your college connection for the greater (career) good? Connect with your alumni group online and look people up in your area. See someone at a company you are considering? Contact him/her and start a conversation. As per any good networking message, make it less about you looking for a job and more about your common connection, interest in the organization, etc. Given that you are starting with a “warm” connection, your alma mater may be your link to a great career step!