By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter
This month’s Career Collective revolves around careerists and job seekers leveraging Social Media for their job search. In conjunction with my colleague, Miriam Salpeter, I am delighted that more than 15+ career bloggers are participating. Please follow the #CareerCollective hashtag on Twitter; as well, the rest of my colleagues’ posts will be linked at the end of my blog soon.
Like many of my colleagues, I love social media! … and I realize its potential impact (good and/or bad) for job seekers and all careerists in the throes of executing a meaningful search or navigating a focused career path.
Are You Consistently Nourishing Your Career Pipeline?
Although the thrust of this post is for active job seekers, it is imperative to point out that we ALL are job seekers, whether we know it or like it! I own my business, which means that I awaken each day unemployed, akin to a job hunter! Essentially, even though I have current projects in the pipeline, if I’m not consistently marketing and proving my value, that pipeline will deplete.
Thankfully, throughout my 14-year entrepreneurship endeavor, though I’ve had droughts where clients were fewer and revenue was leaner, my pipeline always hummed, even if just faintly, with the voices of job seeking clients.
When the economy tanks, when your career ages, when the need for your talent shifts and changes, or when you experience your own life diversions that temporarily disrupt your focus, the momentum in your career and business is maintained by consistent, regular nourishment. In today’s world, the basic career food groups now include a healthy serving of social media.
I’ve made special effort to not only understand and study the media, but also to participate. Social media, I’ve concluded, is a marvelous tool that careerists and job seekers can (and should) add to their toolkit to not only advance their job search, but to maintain continual career visibility and sustainability.
Here are some of my learnings, including the value and purpose of social media, how to get started, plus a suggestion on what ‘not’ to do when playing in the social media sandbox (tip: keep it real, but don’t let it all hang out!).
Social Media’s Value
- There is no single social media platform (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook/Branchout, Quora, About.Me, ZoomInfo, and the list goes on) that will quench the thirst of your career goals. Like with the single drink from a glass of lemonade on a scorching summer day where the sun perpetually dehydrates your body, your career, with its multifarious and complex demands, will not be fulfilled by the single click of a mouse, the building of a profile, the engagement of a tweet or the inspired thoughts you’ve woven into expert blog musings.
- Instead, consider the social media venues as valuable vessels on which your robust career performance initiatives and learnings are transported into new towns, cities and global communities. It is through these social media arteries that your reputation can extend and perpetuate. Never before has the opportunity to connect DIRECTLY with nearly every recognizable and unrecognizable name been more available than now; gatekeepers be darned, social media (especially Twitter), has flattened the world.
- Getting started on social media is a chicken/egg dilemma; which comes first, the intimate fleshing out of your unique value proposition via a behind-the-scenes process of career brain dump, and then dissecting of that brain dump to elicit only the most relevant and value-focused career message snippets that would then fuel various and sundry social media channels? Or, should you just jump on the social media bandwagon and begin ‘yammering?’
- I would suggest it’s a blend of the two – we all have unique styles and different means in which to flesh out our message; the point is, get traction and get going. For me, though I’d had a modestly leveraged LinkedIn account for some time, it was my signing up to Twitter several years ago that propelled my interest and engagement in social media, and within a matter of a couple of months, it was Twitter that vaulted me from blog-less to blogging now, on average, twice weekly. Because of my blogging, I’ve netted regular, paid blogging jobs and a variety of guest-post opportunities leading to visibility beyond my own CareerTrend walls.
- In conjunction with my propulsion in the social media space, I’ve vetted exceptional resources to rebuild my website from scratch, which required a deep-dive into my current value proposition and thus, a behind-the-scenes introspective process. This, in turn, fueled more meaty and focused tweets and blog posts, new social media offerings for my clients (LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging content services), and the list goes on.
- As you can see, it’s a one-thing-leads-to-the-next scenario whereby, doing, gaining traction, and then being inspired to do something else that relates to what I was doing (for the betterment of my business and for my clients’ careers), occurs.
- Throughout this social media adventure, I’ve met dozens, if not a hundred or more, new folks who have become valued colleagues, friends and often, assets toward achieving goals. As well, I’ve also directly netted new clients and referrals.
Getting Started: Barriers to Entry
- The largest challenge in getting started for many folks may be the quality vs. quantity dilemma and thus the impact on your ‘speed to act.’ Though I heartily believe quality trumps quantity, I also know that many people get stuck and lose traction when they feel they are never satisfied with the quality of their message. As such, they never show up to the game – they never get to play.
- I’d advise that you, at the very least, show up by creating a profile at one to two venues that you may feel drawn to, or, if you don’t feel affinity to any one, then blindly choose two, and just get going. Signing up to create an account is no risk; it just means you fill in the basic profile information, and then leave the rest for time and your inspiration and learnings to enable you to populate your value proposition.
- On Twitter, this means simply logging in, creating a handle (your first/lastname often is preferred by some; in my case, I used my business tagline), and start following a few folks. Watch what others say; then speak up. Or, retweet something of value to show that you are listening and that you care what those folks are saying. Before you know it, you will find that you are engaged, and not just out their talking with yourself.
- For additional tips and best practices on ‘taming the Twitter Wild West,’ you may want to visit my blog post, HERE. Or, for ideas on how to craft unsinkable tweets, click HERE.
- Bottom line: just do it, then adjust your social media sails and chart your course as you go. In times of storms, where you may realize that you are overwhelmed after having joined more than a couple new sites, you may wish to re-think and re-plot your course. It may even mean that you need to dock your social media boat for a bit while you fine-tune your message behind the scenes. Though some purists may say otherwise, I believe that even decisions, like the Twitter handle you choose, can be changed and re-‘branded’ at any point in the game.
A Social Media Don’t
- And final message: Don’t be fooled by the word, ‘social;’ though your genuine personality should pervade your Tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook updates, I am convinced that too much transparency and authenticity can wreak havoc on careers. Always be thoughtful, consider the art of diplomacy and tact, and leave something to the imagination in all social media messages.
- That said, it is worth reasserting not to be timid in launching your social media presence – just remember common sense prevails and will help you keep your head above water. Social media, though important in your career, is not the be-all-end-all, so do not let it paralyze you.
To read what my colleagues are saying on this subject, please click on the links, below:
Make Your Career More Social: Show Up and Engage, @WalterAkana
How to Get a New Job Using Social Media, @DebraWheatman
Social Media: Choosing, Using, and Confusing, @ErinKennedyCPRW
How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman
Updating: A Social Media Strategy For Job Search, @TimsStrategy
Your Career Needs Social Media – Get Started, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland
Job Search and Social Media: A Collective Approach, @careersherpa
How Having Your Own Website Helps You, @keppie_careers
Social Media: So what’s the point?, @DawnBugni
Tools that change your world, @WorkWithIllness
HOW TO: Meet People IRL via LinkedIn, @AvidCareerist
Effective Web 2.0 Job Search: Top 5 Secrets, @resumeservice
Jumping Into the Social Media Sea @ValueIntoWords
Sink or Swim in Social Media, @KCCareerCoach
Social Media Primer for Job Seekers, @LaurieBerenson