Being Digitally Approachable in Your Job Search

 Job searches rely on making lots of great first impressions. And once upon a time you could control your first impressions, by actually being there when they happened. It may surprise you to learn that, a long, long time ago (back when I was 40), humans introduced themselves to one another in person. Face to face, not on Facebook or Facetime.

Those days are long gone.

Today, job seekers make most of their first impressions online. You can’t get through a dinner out with friends without someone pulling out a smart phone to look something up. When I recommend a restaurant, or movie, or a beer, where do you go to check it out? You go online. In the office, when you mention you are looking for a solution to an IT problem, and I recommend my IT vendor, what do you do? Do you leap to the phone to call them … or do you check them out online first?

When you Google your own name, what do you see? There is your first impression. Google is the new business card.

Every time someone refers a candidate to me, I check them out online. If they are on the hunt for their next position, I assume they paid some attention to their digital first impression. And I’m often disappointed.

If you are a business professional about my age, and your LinkedIn profile is bare bones, you are sending the message that you are behind the curve with technology. It is assumed that you either don’t understand it, or perhaps you are afraid of it. Like it or not, that’s your first impression, and it is darn hard to shake. The fact that you have not yet found social media relevant to your work, or that you find it a silly waste of time only confirms the suspicion.  You may think that not having a robust online profile confirms that you are a mature, secure, serious professional who has no time to waste on YouTwitFace. But among people who use Google to form a first impression, rest assured, that’s not what they think.

Conversely, if you are an early career business professional, and your LinkedIn profile is bare bones, it is assumed that you know your way around social networks because you are young, so the absence of a professional profile means you are either lazy or perhaps you just don’t understand how things work in the real world. Not good.

So if your current job is quite secure, and if you have no interest in being contacted about a new job, then by all means, feel free to remain digitally anonymous. Put out a big old “Beware of Dog” sign online. No problemo.

But if you are even thinking of making a first impression with someone who is in a position to help you, like an HR professional, or a headhunter, or someone who is well networked … well then, you would be wise to make yourself more digitally approachable.

What to do if a Job Interviewer asks for Your Facebook Password

A new controversy has the business world a-buzz. It has to do with Facebook, and the fact that some employers are asking prospective employees for their Facebook passwords.

Megan Garber, writing for The Atlantic, reports that “Apparently, for the 95 percent of employers who use social media sites to glean information about job candidates, the intelligence available for public perusal is no longer enough. Prospective employers now want to see inside your profiles.”

A Maryland man who was forced to reveal his Facebook password during an interview with the state’s Department of Corrections has sued, and the ACLU will be arguing on his behalf. And then there’s the New York statistician who walked out of an interview after he was asked to provide his Facebook password. These cases aren’t mere anomalies, notes Garber. This is happening more and more frequently.

The practice is being met with outrage and widespread disapproval. “It’s akin to requiring someone’s house keys,” says George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr. (NOTE:  Facebook has since changed its policies.)

The fact that some companies feel free to ask for passwords demonstrates how deep the divide can be between people’s conceptions of online privacy:  Garber notes that common standards about what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to online privacy have yet to solidify in the social environment that Facebook and other networks provide.

“Employers are asking for applicant passwords — in part — because those applicants have availed themselves of social media sites’ privacy features,” writes Garber. Savvy interviewees have made their profiles viewable only to friends and family; employers, who have gotten used to social media recon as an integral aspect of the hiring process, are looking for ways to reclaim the insights those profiles can provide.”

The problem has become widespread enough that lawmakers are proposing legislation to fight against it. In Maryland, House Bill 364 (pdf), proposed in January 2012, would prevent employers from discriminating against job applicants who refuse to provide access to their social media profiles. In Illinois, House Bill 3782, introduced in early March 2012, would do the same. Protections like these, if they’re passed into law, will likely prove important — not just for job-seekers and their online connections, but for the everyday privacy standards that are solidifying as Facebook and its fellow networks make their way from an innovation to a way of life.

Thanks to Facebook’s policy change you now have an easy answer if anyone ever asks for your Facebook password: “I’m sorry, that would violate my user agreement.” And then, we recommend that you seriously reconsider whether you would want to work anywhere that would even ask.

Read More here.

Could Facebook help more in a job search than Linkedin?

Linkedin is a professional network. Facebook is a social network. So which will get you your next job? Turns out, they both can!

Bryce Christiansen from Balanced WorkLife brings us an interesting perspective on how Facebook can be more useful than Linkedin for landing a great job. Bryce gives lots of ways that Facebook can help, even if your security settings are Private.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • It’s more engaging. Businesses can create a page, entice users to it, and then communicate with anyone who stops by.
  • More users. Facebook has over 800 million active users; Linkedin only has 120 million… And, most update Facebook far more frequently.
  • Ads you want. Businesses are paying for targeted ads to Facebook users who match the profile.

Check out the article if you want to learn what Facebook habits you should adapt to have it land you a job.

What Employers Should be Telling Jobseekers

Check out this post by our Strategic Recruiting Manager and social networking expert, Kelly Dingee:  7 Things Employers Should Tell Job Seekers About How to Get Considered.

She’s got great tips for how to make yourself more noticeable and desirable to the people who are looking to hire you.  If anyone knows how to find potential candidates, it’s Kelly.  So take a look at her tricks for making yourself “hireable”.

Top 10 job search best practices

One of the most challenging aspects of searching for a job in today’s tough market is finding “best practices” for getting to the interview stage.  Brenda Neckvatal spelled it out nicely in a post on the Examiner.   She recommends 10 practices that will improve your odds of landing an interview, starting with having a target list of employers and then networking your way in.  I’ve been an advocate of this approach for quite some time now.  Glad to find more people agreeing with me!

Research Your Boss, Before Your Interview

Hank called me on Tuesday last week. He had an interview scheduled for Friday. I like helping give people the inside story on potential jobs, but I had never heard of the company where he was interviewing. Bummer.

But that was no problem, because Hank was way ahead of me. He had already used Linkedin to figure out that my friend Bill used to work at this firm. I have not talked to Bill in years, so I sent him a quick email to ask if he would mind talking to Hank. Of course he was happy to help.

So Hank went to his interview on Friday, having already done some “reference checking” on his potential new boss BEFORE the first interview. (Bill thought the boss was a micro-manager).  Was Bill just a disgruntled former employee?  Is the boss’s management style going to be a deal-breaker? I don’t know, but at least Hank went in knowing exactly what to look for.

We’ve talked before about using LinkedIn to help get an interview, but don’t overlook its’ power in helping you connect with former employees at a company you are considering.  You can use what you learn to help you interview much more effectively.

7 Tips for Connecting via Social Media

We are always saying that social media is vital to your success as a jobseeker. Soren Gordhamer has some great ideas for how to use social media effectively. He wrote 7 lessons for better networking using social media. Here are my 3 favorites:


  • Contact a person through their “preferred communication channel” – it might be their website, it might be linkedin, it might be email…. Research what way they prefer and do that.
  • Don’t say too much. You don’t want to write a really lengthy essay about why you want to connect with that person. Using social media, make it brief.
  • Accept the fact that they probably won’t respond. Don’t take it personally – lots of people just don’t respond to strangers.

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