Dear (LinkedIn) Diary?

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Update, LinkedIn Status, Network Update, LinkedIn Diary

In a prior post, I wrote about LinkedIn content that is perhaps inappropriate for the medium.  In this post I address an interesting twist on that concept – and I’d like your opinion in the comments.

Most of us have shared content on LinkedIn, either an article from an outside source you believed would be beneficial to your network, or sharing an existing post you found on LinkedIn, or publishing a post on LinkedIn’s blogging platform, or maybe even a personal update (ex:  “I’m looking forward to attending the XYZ Event tonight” or “Happy to announce XYZ at this time”).  I’ve always believed that a little insight into you, the person, is a good thing as it helps transform your profile from two-dimensional to three-dimensional.

But, is there a point where your posts can be too personal on LinkedIn?  Is there a point where a personal post can do more harm than good?  Consider this situation . . . Meet Sharon (name and post details changed to protect identify), a professional currently looking for work.  Sharon recently shared these status updates on LinkedIn:

“Received a call from ABCD Company to discuss an open position. I made some resume changes to fit the job description. They seemed interested so I’m excited about the possibility.”

“I had my phone interview with ABCD Company and think it went well. We discussed my experience and willingness to learn new hardware and software. Their decision should be made in a few weeks.”

“As I await ABCD Company’s decision, I have other opportunities I’m actively pursuing and trying to schedule interviews with in Anytown, NY and  Fictitiousville, PA.”

“Today I scheduled a phone interview with a hiring manager at WXYZ Corp. for next Tuesday.”

“My phone interview with WXYZ Corp. went well yesterday.  The level of detail we discussed makes me hopeful.  While I await word from ABCD and WXYZ, I’ve just scheduled an interview with LMNOP Inc.  I’m excited about my interviewing activity and hoping an offer is coming soon.”

So what do you think about this level of personal detail being shared in status updates on LinkedIn?  Do you believe Sharon is successfully branding herself as being high-in-demand, which will help her job search?  Or, do you think that’s off-putting to potential employers that she’s sharing such personal and perhaps confidential information?  I could argue both sides, but I’d really love to hear opinions from recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals.

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Social Media Privacy Check Up – Part 2

In my last post, I discussed how to check your privacy settings on LinkedIn and promised that my next post would cover privacy settings for Facebook.  What prompted this privacy topic were questions that were asked during recent public presentations I made on social media, including:

  1. Should I create a 2nd LinkedIn profile if I’m considering a career in a different industry?
  2. Is there a way I can hide my LinkedIn profile, or parts of it, so that someone doesn’t think I’m over-qualified?
  3. Can I temporarily suspend my LinkedIn profile while I make certain changes?
  4. Should I create a 2nd Facebook profile – one for fun and one for a professional footprint?
  5. Should I create a Facebook business page for myself for professional purposes?

To start with Facebook, let me specifically address questions 4 and 5 above.  The answer to each is a definitive NO.  First of all, it’s against Facebook’s community standards to maintain a second personal account.  Secondly, a business page is meant to promote a business.  If you simply want people to see certain information and updates, but not all (especially the information and updates you consider “personal”) then you need to adjust your privacy settings accordingly, rather than creating a business page.  Here’s how and where you do that . . .

Social Media, Facebook, Privacy, Facebook Privacy, Settings

The fastest way to check your privacy settings is to use the padlock icon in the toolbar.  From there, you can change who can see your future posts, you can see and review things you’ve posted on Facebook (activity log) and you can see how others view your Facebook timeline by selecting a public view (those you’re not friends with) or what a specific friend sees on your timeline.  If you have your default setting for posts set to friends (that’s what mine is set for), then there will be a difference between a public view and a friend’s view.

Each of these settings in the first drop-down menu under the padlock icon should be reviewed in detail.  If you previously had your default setting for posts set to public, consider whether there is something you’ve posted in the past that can be viewed negatively.  In addition to your timeline posts, click on each of the tabs under your banner picture (About, Friends, Photos, More).  Are you satisfied with what can be seen publicly?  Are there things you need to make private (or friends only)?

At the bottom of the drop-down menu under the padlock icon are two links that you should also review:  More Settings and Privacy Basics.  These areas are where you can truly fine-tune your settings.  For example, you can change the visibility of past posts, you can turn on/off whether or not search engines outside of Facebook can link to your profile, and you can review the settings for when you’re tagged in posts.

If you’re looking for work, at minimum you should have your work history and contact information (including links to websites and other social media accounts) visible to the public.  In its 2015 annual survey, Jobvite found that 92% of all recruiters are using social media as part of their job.  While LinkedIn naturally leads the field at 87%, Facebook is second with 55%.  The lesson learned is over half of the recruiters will use Facebook – regardless of whether or not you want to use Facebook as part of your job search.  This same Jobvite article also shares the kinds of posts that recruiters view positively and negatively.  Don’t forget, if you comment on a post on Facebook, others can see that regardless of your own privacy settings!  Perhaps you have some Facebook clean-up to do?

Here’s how I manage my Facebook account…

  1. I’m pretty selective with who I connect with on Facebook.  I treat Facebook as I would my “backyard cookout.”  If I don’t know you well-enough to invite you to a backyard cookout I might have, chances are you’ll have to follow my public updates on Facebook (which I’ve allowed) to see my posts.
  2. I’ve set past and future posts to friends only by default.  If and when I have a post that I do want the public to see (a professional article, a blog post, an announcement about a public speaking engagement, a milestone event, etc.), I will intentionally change the visibility setting for that particular post from friends to public.
  3. I’ve created lists and will intentionally change the visibility setting for a particular post from friends to a specific list.  For example, since I live in Western NY, do my friends and family in Florida need to see my post about a lost dog I’ve found?  Creating and using lists allow you to be a “good citizen” of Facebook by reducing the timeline clutter of irrelevant posts.
  4. Remember that profile pictures and cover pictures are visible to the public by default, so choose them wisely!
  5. I also review every time I’m tagged and decide whether or not that’s something that I want to appear on my timeline.  Please note that if you choose not to have a post you’re tagged in appear on your timeline, it still appears on their timeline.

By knowing how the privacy settings work and how/where to change them, you can continue to use your ONE personal account for personal and professional purposes!

Experiencing Failure

Failure, Success, Failure Is The Road To Success, Quotes, Quotes on Failure, Quotes on SuccessFor most people, the greatest number of “failures” will be experienced during job loss and job search.  If you haven’t experienced failure often or know how to handle it, failure can be a debilitating emotion.  It can impact you negatively today as well as tomorrow.  So what are you to do if you’ve recently lost your job or have spent weeks/months looking for work?

Remember this . . . “You are not a failure; you experienced failure.”  I read that headline recently and it really resonated with me.  When I was downsized in 2009, I did feel like a failure.  I felt as if I had failed my employer, my family and myself.  That’s a tough hole to dig yourself out of emotionally and until you do so, it negatively impacts and handicaps you – especially as you look for employment.

The sooner one realizes the difference between being and experiencing failure, the sooner he/she will start making significant progress with finding employment.  Your new outlook will restore your confidence as you realize that most successful people have also experienced failure prior to success.

You’ll start to see that there’s something to be gained from each experience whether it’s a skill set, a life lesson, a network connection or knowledge that will make you better prepared for what lies ahead.

The holidays can be a hard time for those who are unemployed – I’ve been there and done that.  With a new year comes a chance at a new start.  Once you truly accept the difference between being and experiencing failure, your new outlook will make a difference to your job search.  Obviously, that’s just a part of the equation as you’ll still need to work at personal branding and your personal marketing plan, your digital footprint, in-person and electronic networking, continuing education, professional assistance and traditional search methods.

While there is no crystal ball as to which method(s) will result in your new job, remember that companies want to be successful (and look for successful candidates).  Demonstrate and celebrate your successes and remember that you are not a failure, you simply experienced failure, as have millions before you.

My Top Ten Posts for 2013

2013The New Year holiday is often a time for reflection and for looking ahead.  While circumstances prevented me from blogging as much as I wanted, I still had a successful blogging year!  Below are my top 10 posts (number of views) written in 2013:

10)  Do You Have A Twin On LinkedIn?  Why duplicate profiles exist on LinkedIn and how you can remedy it if you have a duplicate profile.

9)  The $209,200 Question  My answer to the question, “What is the skill a graduating senior would need most in order to secure employment?”

8)  We Take Care of Our Own  What do Bruce Springsteen and networking have in common?

7)  The Value Of First Impressions  How first impressions of schools and universities participating in a college fair passed/failed.

6)  The Secret to a Successful Job Search  My answer to the question, “If you had to narrow down all of the various pieces of job search advice into the singular most important thing someone could do, what would that one thing be?”

5)  Twitter Players  What’s a “twitter player” and how do you spot one?

4)  Follow Up To:  LinkedIn Policy Is Guilty Until Proven Innocent  Responding to reader questions for more information, this follow-up post provides additional detail on LinkedIn’s #swam policy.

3)  Check Your Facebook Privacy Settings Ahead of Graph Search  A review of how to check and change your Facebook privacy settings.

2)  LinkedIn Policy Is Guilty Until Proven Innocent  This was the most commented on post I wrote in 2013, which criticizes LinkedIn’s Site Wide Automatic Moderation (#swam) policy for group posts.

1)  Recent Examples of PR – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly  In any given week, if you look for it, you’ll find examples of public relations; good, bad and ugly.  Here’s what I found at the time . . .

As 2013 winds to a close, I wish my readers a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.  Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing my posts this year.  I look forward to sharing my knowledge, expertise and thoughts with you in 2014.

Marketing and the College Tour

In March I wrote a post about the value of first impressions.  That post was inspired by the different marketing and promotional approaches of colleges and universities at a local college fair I attended with my daughter.  Fast forward four months and some of the booths that grabbed our attention that day were visited recently.

Since I tend to view many things with a marketer’s eye, the college tour experience was viewed with the same scrutiny I applied to the college fair in March.  It’s safe to say that some excelled and others failed miserably.  After visiting/looking at 7 schools in 3 states, here’s what stood out:

  1. Photo editing is a marketer’s best friend.  One school that looked great on the web and in their brochures was the exact opposite in person.  Situated in a very poor part of town, there was no dedicated campus and the buildings were quite run-down in person.  This is exactly why you must visit schools and not believe everything you see in a marketing brochure.
  2. Hospitality goes a long way.  Most schools offered visitors something to drink (bottled water, coffee, tea).  Some even offered cookies.  One offered nothing and pointed to vending machines in the lobby.  You certainly wouldn’t apply to a school based on whether or not the Admissions Department offered cookies.  But, which experience leaves a better taste in your mouth (pun intended)?
  3. Personalization makes a great impression.  Most schools followed-up on our visits with a “canned” thank you note and additional marketing materials.  Thank you notes are important, but they need to be authentic.  We received a hand-written thank you note from the student tour guide at one of the schools (in addition to one from admissions).  That simple gesture made a great and lasting impression!
  4. You need to walk the walk.  If you’re going to tout how state-of-the-art your campus is when it comes to technology, then your admissions presentation should reflect that.  A simple PowerPoint isn’t going to cut it.  The schools that invested in a higher quality multimedia presentation reinforced their claim of incorporating cutting edge technology.
  5. Finding common ground.  A few of the schools had large groups of students/parents for the campus tour.  Most simply split the groups randomly.  However, one university split the groups by the prospective students’ potential major/school.  Additionally, they matched that group with a student tour guide from that same school.  Rather than having a theater major attempting to answer questions about a business major, you had a business major answering questions from prospective business school students.
  6. Kids like swag.  Just like point #2 above, whether or not you receive a coffee mug or t-shirt from the school should have no bearing on whether or not you choose to apply to that school.  But, kids like free stuff!  The schools which made a small investment in a promotional budget sent visiting students home with a positive impression (and created a walking advertisement in the process).

The above marketing observations are certainly not limited to higher education.  These same examples and principles apply to small businesses too.  Think about the impression your action (or inaction) is leaving on customers and potential customers.  Quite often, just a simple shift can make a big difference!

The Value Of First Impressions

I’ve written previously about the value of first impressions.  A few weeks ago I was reminded about how valuable those first impressions can be.  I had the opportunity to bring my daughter to a local college fair with over 200 schools in attendance.  She did some homework ahead of the event and we had a large list of schools we wanted to speak with.

Upon arriving at the event, what struck me first, was that there was an immediate and obvious discrepancy among the schools.  Some had great signage that was branded consistently with their school.  Other colleges simply made do with what was provided by the convention center.  When you see something like that, what’s your first impression?  Is it that one school takes pride in their brand and another doesn’t?  Or is it something more cynical, such as one school charges more in tuition to support its marketing and promotions budget?

A few of the colleges had more than one representative at the table to help reduce waiting times.  As a parent with many schools on the list and many questions to ask, I found that to be very valuable.  But that begs the same questions, doesn’t it?  Is it “smart business” on the school’s behalf or is it flaunting a larger budget that can afford to send two representatives instead of one?

Many of the colleges had large visuals of campus.  Not surprisingly, all of the students look like models and the campus apparently enjoys nothing but  sunny, blue skies and 70-degree days all year-long.  What surprised me was that some schools didn’t have visuals at all, unless you proactively flipped through their glossy brochures.  You can’t flip through a brochure if your booth doesn’t attract the visitor to begin with!  That seems like Marketing 101 to me, and that doesn’t bode well for the offending schools offering a marketing degree.  I think they need to re-take that class, or perhaps take it at a different school that understands marketing!

My final observation, however, was how few schools had promotional products with them.  I was expecting to bring home enough branded pens to supply a few classrooms with.  Instead, we found one school that had postcards of campus images printed in 3-D and another school that gave out small smartphone screen cleaning pads.

After speaking with 30+ schools, I must admit that many of them blended together at the end of the event.  The ones I remembered either had a great representative, or they had the right combination of marketing and promotional collateral to stand out from the crowd.  For the colleges, isn’t it all about making a great first impression at an event like that?  My daughter was able to eliminate many schools from consideration based on first impressions alone.  The rest will be eliminated on other, more traditional criteria.

Does your business actively plan for making the right first impression?  If you’re looking for a job, what are you doing to ensure your first impression is a good one?

Ithaca College, IC, Roy H. Park School of Communications, Cayuga Lake, South Hill

A first-impression of my alma matter, the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, overlooking Cayuga Lake (image via ithaca.edu)

Five Consulting and Job Search Parallels

I recently had lunch with a friend and former co-worker. When we met back in 2010 and compared notes on our respective job search activities, we learned we had competed against each other for many of the same open positions in the Rochester, NY area.  We ended up working together for a large, local corporation. While our contracts there have ended, I am happy to report that each of us has since moved on to new and better opportunities.

She asked how my consulting business was doing.  As I explained the ebb and flow I’ve experienced, five parallels between part-time consulting and job search immediately came to mind:

Rain and drought:  “When it rains, it pours” is the old adage and I’ve experienced that with both the job search and part-time consulting.  I’ve had weeks without a single phone call or email inquiry and I’ve had weeks where I’m seemingly over-booked.  It’s important to not get too high or too low as riding that emotional roller coaster will make you sick.

How hot is the fire?:  Another old adage I used when I was looking for full-time employment was “irons in the fire” to describe how many opportunities were in various stages of progress.  At various times, I had several positions I had applied to, several I had interviewed for, and several I was waiting for an offer/rejection.  Some weeks, with so many “irons in the fire,” the fire seemed quite hot!  Other weeks, I was hoping for a spark, let alone a flame or a fire.  This hot-cold pattern isn’t always predictable, but know that it won’t last forever, good (hot) or bad (cold).

Personal branding:  If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to differentiate yourself.  You must determine what makes you different from all of the other job applicants.  Then, market yourself and highlight how you stand above the crowd.  As a marketing consultant, I too have developed and maintain a personal brand.

Visibility is key:  Without a marketing/advertising budget, I rely on referrals and word-of-mouth for my consulting business.  The key to that is being visible.  Similarly, job seekers need to be visible.  When a job lead for a sales position comes across my inbox, odds are I’m forwarding it to the first person I think of who’s looking for a sales position.

Networking is mandatory:  Whether I’m meeting with job seekers or prospective consulting clients, I try to network weekly (and in-person whenever possible).  The key to effective networking is practicing a “give to get” mentality.  Help the person you’re networking with first.  They’re then more likely to assist you.

For those who navigated the unemployment waters and have landed, what parallels have you noticed?

Are You Still The Rat?

I often think there are two types of people in this world, those who love famous quotes and those who don’t.  Consider me in the latter group, not because I don’t find value in them.  There’s simply a glut of quotes on social media.  For me it’s overload to the point that I tune them out.

The other day, however, one from Lily Tomlin caught my eye . . . .

Rat Race, Running the Rat Race

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” ~ Lily Tomlin

What’s interesting is, my job search a few years ago felt the most like a rat race to me.  I easily logged 60+ hours a week on average.  It felt like a never-ending treadmill of looking at postings, attending networking events, having 1-on-1 informational meetings, monitoring my online presence, speaking with recruiters, preparing for interviews, following-up on applications and interviews, etc., etc.

But this is where I diverge from Lily Tomlin’s quote.  As I look back on my stretch of unemployment, it really feels like a sabbatical since I ultimately re-landed with the company that had down-sized me.  During my job search, I was able to learn new skills, I met hundreds of new people, I sharpened my existing skills, I re-energized my outlook and perspective, and I returned to full-time employment better than I was before.  In that sense, I no longer felt like the same “rat” who had been running the job search rat race.

If you’re currently looking for work, my challenge to you is . . . what will you do now to improve yourself?  What will you do once you return to work?  Will you continue to network and help others as you were helped?  Will you emerge from the job search rat race a new and improved person, or will you go back to your old self?  Will you make personal and professional changes to shorten and minimize future, unexpected job search rat races? Or . . . will you still be the rat running the same rat race?

photo credit: http://www.domainofhope.com

Social Media Days of the Week

In social media, it seems as if every day of the week is devoted to something.  Marketers will use any excuse they can to get their message in front of you.  There’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, Wear Red Day, etc., etc.  This can be both good and bad, depending on your perspective of marketing.

In social media, there are certain “events” that occur on a weekly basis.  Perhaps the most well-known is “Follow Friday” on Twitter (#FollowFriday or #FF in twitter-speak).  This is a way for Twitter users to make a recommendation that their followers should follow certain individuals.  Sometimes it’s for a specific reason (industry, location, interest) and sometimes there’s no apparent reason for the recommendation.

A few years ago, Hire Friday (#HireFriday or #HF) became a variation of Follow Friday.  Job seekers were encouraged to tweet about their job search including location, industry, a keyword or two, a link to a professional profile, and of course include the hashtag.  Those on Twitter, especially recruiters and HR professionals, were encouraged to re-tweet these messages to give job seekers added exposure.  The power of Hire Friday (and Twitter) is real, as I experienced an increase of resume views of 4x-5x compared to other days in the week when I was looking for employment.

I recently read a blog post from CAREEREALISM where they’re trying to encourage “Endorse Monday.”  They’re asking LinkedIn users to take 10 minutes each Monday and endorse people within their network.  This is a great way to be active on LinkedIn and it’s a perfect example of practicing a “give to get” networking philosophy.

Unlike Twitter, where the previously mentioned #hashtags in your stream will serve as a weekly reminder each Friday, I think LinkedIn will need to aggressively promote “Endorse Monday” until this becomes ingrained.  Endorse Monday may not have been LinkedIn’s idea originally, but they’re obviously in favor of it since they referenced it in a Facebook post recently.

As someone who embraces and practices “give to get” networking, I truly hope Endorse Monday takes off!  What other special days do you participate in using social media each week?

Social Media Days of the Week

Five Reasons Why Job Seekers Must Blog

Looking for work is a full-time job but with a horrible “paycheck.”  I know first-hand, as I’ve previously spent an extended period of time looking for work.  I’ve often been asked, “if you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?”

To this day, my answer is always . . . . blog.  When I was unemployed, I had dozens of people suggest to me that I should blog.  At the time, I had my excuses crafted:  I don’t have time, I don’t know what to write, it will detract from more important job search tasks, people won’t find value in what I have to say, etc., etc.

Since I’ve successfully navigated those waters, I can say from personal experience, these are five reasons that job seekers must blog:

  1. Improve Visibility & SEO.  You need to be active and visible if you want to be found.  While Google will find your LinkedIn profile, it simply isn’t enough.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization (improving the natural or “organic” way your site is found via search engines like Google or Bing).  Add to your digital footprint and improve your SEO by creating and maintaining a blog.  Google ♥ blogs because it’s fresh content.
  2. Exemplify Subject Matter Expertise.  What if your resume or LinkedIn profile isn’t read?  What if it’s read, but your expertise doesn’t come across?  Having a blog allows you to demonstrate your subject matter expertise with each post.  Repetition demonstrates your experience and knowledge.
  3. Demonstrate Personality.  By writing a blog, your personality comes through.  Readers get a sense of your style, your passion, your humor.  It takes what’s typically a very 2-D digital footprint and transforms it into 3-D.
  4. Personal Branding & Differentiation.  Most LinkedIn profiles look alike, aside from a few differentiators.  Since you can only customize your LinkedIn profile to a very limited extent, writing a blog allows you to creatively market yourself.  Open jobs often receive hundreds of applicants.  How can you stand out from the competition?  Try blogging!
  5. Proactively Share SCAR/STAR Stories.  A common interviewing strategy is to share a SCAR (“Situation/Challenge/Action/Result”) or STAR (“Situation/Tactic/Action/Result”) Story with the interviewer to demonstrate your experience, problem solving ability and value to the organization.  That’s great, but you need to get the interview in order to tell that story, right?  Not if you have a blog!  SCAR/STAR Stories can be great fodder for blog posts.

And, if you’d like a bonus reason, creating and maintaining a blog gives you the added skill sets of writing, content management, web development, marketing/promotions, publishing and social media!

Is blogging time consuming?  Yes, but make the time – it’s worth it!  Will people find value in what you have to say?  Yes, you’ll be surprised!  If your goal is to be found, be viewed as an industry expert, show some personality and differentiate yourself from the competition, then you must blog!