Although you may hear that job hunting has changed, it really has not. The tactics and the tools may have changed, but the core strategy hasn’t. Think back to the fundamental truths of employment:
These three basic truths have not changed over the past century. Technology may have multiplied the number of tools and the level of noise in the hiring process, and economic conditions may have created greater challenges and opportunities, but these three fundamental, foundational stones have not changed.
Take a closer look at these three anchor points.
Businesses only hire people they know about.
In the past two decades, the tools available to employers and job seekers have exploded. Word of mouth and networking are perhaps the oldest tactics for making connections. Newspaper classifieds are another old method. But their age doesn't make them invalid as a tactic. As information technology has exploded, new options for making that visible connection have multiplied. While these new platforms seek to make it easier, the reality is that they make it harder. There are more ways to make connections, but more is not necessarily better. In fact, more avenues create more confusion.
One technological innovation that has moved to the forefront is LinkedIn. The site is designed to facilitate connections between job seekers and the job fillers. While the concept of the jobs board is not new, LinkedIn has created the most perfect tool for making that connection.
If you are not using LinkedIn in your job search, you are overlooking an important tool. The facts and the numbers prove this. In the latest financial reports from LinkedIn, the company claims that hiring solutions accounted for over 50 percent of its total revenue. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates. Talent acquisition managers (the new term for company recruiters) use LinkedIn to find candidates. Companies list available jobs on LinkedIn. Every professional group on LinkedIn has a specific interactive forum tab that focuses on searching for people to fill jobs.
If you are not using LinkedIn in your job search, you have a poor job search strategy.
Businesses employ resources to create wealth.
Look hard at what you do. If you are unemployed, look hard at what you did in your last job. How did you create wealth for the business you worked for? In that job, how did you help to control costs? How did you help to increase revenue? How did you help to improve cash flow? How did you help to reduce risk?
Many resumes highlight the functional tasks people do. In doing so, those resumes fail to highlight the value the person created for the business. When you list only the functional tasks you perform, you are assuming that the recruiter, the HR manager, or the hiring manager understands the intrinsic worth of those functional tasks. That is a disastrous assumption to make, because in most cases the people making the decisions are ignorant of the value of these functional tasks.
Make it easy for the recruiter, the HR manager, and the hiring manager to understand the value you are able to create. Briefly touch on what you did at your previous job, and always illustrate the value you create. If you can calculate the dollar value of your work, then use the numbers. If you can't calculate the dollar value, illustrate how you created value.
Look at your resume and look at your LinkedIn profile. Are you just listing the jobs you did? Do you provide some idea of the value you create? Employers are looking for people who create value, and they will naturally be interested in people who know how to define the value they can create.
If you do not define the value you create, you do not differentiate your abilities from everyone else's.
Businesses are a collection of people.
Just about any business of any size is on LinkedIn, and you can learn a great deal about the companies listed and their cultures by examining LinkedIn profiles. People list the companies they work for in their profiles. This is your gateway to understanding the culture of an organization.
Pick a company. Type the company's name into the search window and LinkedIn will provide a list of current and past employees. Then you can start looking at their profiles. Don't just look at one or two; look at as many as you can. When you are looking at these profiles, you don't have to spend a lot of time studying each one; you want to look for patterns, because those patterns can reveal a great deal about the company’s culture.
How large is the company, and how many current employees have a profile? Are those profiles heavy with information? Look at the level of employment that people have in the company; are they mostly worker bees, middle managers, or executives? How long do people typically work at the company? Who are their previous employers?
All these questions can give you insight into the company. If everybody has a thin profile, it could indicate that people are worried about their jobs, worried that their employer might take some action against them. Thin profiles could also indicate introverted behavior. Conversely, a thick profile could indicate that people want to get out of the organization. Or they could be advertising how great the organization is by showing off all the things the individuals who work there can do.
When a lot of people in one company post their profiles, it tends to suggest that the company is socially focused. It also says the company may have a relatively open social networking policy.
If you really want to know more about a specific company, you can be bold and send a message to someone who is working in the department you are interested in. Ask questions about what it's like to work for the company. Be upfront and honest about your reason for making contact. If you take the bold and honest approach, most people will make the effort to respond and give you an honest opinion in return.
If you are not looking at who works for a company, you are ignoring an important way to understand the culture of the company.
These are just a few ideas for how to use LinkedIn to assist your job search. We’ll revisit this in another article.