Posts Tagged ‘ LinkedIn ’

“I Need To Tell You Something About Your Skills…”

“…As of right now, they mean precisely…d*ck.”  –Tommy Lee Jones, “Men In Black”

The same could be said about your resume.  You know–the paper one?  The one you forget about for months or years at a time while you have a job, and scramble to update when you suddenly don’t

The truth is that paper resumes are fast becoming a formality.  A pleasantry, if you will.  They used to be the Head Cheese, the Big Ticket To The Job.  Sometimes, the only ticket to a job, if you haven’t taken the time to network properly.  No more, and here’s why.

First of all, hiring managers (and every other manager) all know that nobody’s resume is the one, single, accurately-descriptive manifesto about you.  That one time you had to figure out where the circuit breaker box was turns into “Troubleshooting of complex electrical systems.”  Knowing how to check your email turns into “Extensive experience with the latest technology.”   The fact that you’ll talk to anyone makes you “Highly outgoing, and fearlessly able to engage potential customers”…to say nothing of whether most people actually like you.  They might give you credit enough for coming up with that little blurb (or at least finding someone smart enough to do it for you), but they know that the real meat is in the interview.  That’s what the paper resume was for–to get you the interview.

Hell, the interview itself is almost becoming obsolete because of this next point:  Your web presence is only getting bigger.  Thanks to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Naymz, and every other social media website out there, people have more access to you without your knowledge than ever before.  And it’s not slowing down.  It’s well-known that employers these days use whatever tools they have at their disposal to investigate you before they decide to spend the time to bring you in and talk with you.  They do this because they understand the benefits of getting a “feel” for what kind of person you are, and will scan what they see online for inconsistencies on paper.  Potential employers of mine have open access to my LinkedIn profile, both of my blogs, and limited access to my Facebook profile.  Sometimes, they even run credit checks.  I’ve come to grips with this (with the exception of the credit check, which I find incredibly invasive), and embraced it.  In fact, this is what you need to do.

You'll Still Need To Embody This, Of Course...

If you haven’t already, you need to go through every public profile you have, and flush it of any content you think might circumvent your right to the Fifth Amendment.  Pictures of you the first time you got trashed and slept in front of a toilet, other peoples’ dirty comments, any status updates which could have an “-ist” connotation attached to them…basically, anything you wouldn’t say to or show your grandmother.

Use sites like LinkedIn to the best of your advantage.  Fill out your profile, be honest about your goals, and put more on there than a simple vomiting of your work history.  Use their widgets, like the Personal Book List, or the space for Extra Licenses and Experience.  Throw in your hobbies.  The more things a potential employer might have in common with you, the better a shot you’ll have at a connection, which could lead to an interview. 

Take it to the next level, and find it in yourself to ask some key people at work to vouch for you.  People who have a written, public recommendation on LinkedIn are far more likely to score an interview than those who don’t–mainly because whoever is looking at your profile looks at a recommendation almost as a favor (someone already did some of the legwork for them). 

Finally, nip it in the bud:  Google yourself.  Do some digging on yourself, and see what you find.  Search for yourself using variants of your name, or by misspelling it.  See who else shares your name (if anyone), and look into them, too.  Imagine the surprise if a potential interviewer does a search for a candidate named Jennifer Jameson, and Google suggests Jenna instead.  Know ahead of time what the employer will find, and if it turns out that damage control might be needed, do your best to take care of it. 

The fact is, your resume is no longer on paper, it is alive and already speaking for you.  Make it say what you want it to.

Humble Pie Tastes Like Beer!

Yesterday evening, I more or less “hosted” the first “official” Happy Hour event for a LinkedIn group I’m part of here in VA (if you aren’t a part of LinkedIn by now, you are either behind the times, or foolish–just my humble opinion). The main reason I did the “hosting” is because I happened to be the one who stepped up and said, “Let’s make this group work for us!” and all I did was set up a date, time, and place for the meeting to happen.  After all, I figure there isn’t much purpose in wasting time setting up a profile on a website if you aren’t going to make use of the contacts you can meet through it.  I figured that if I could loosely facilitate some relatively impromptu networking, it would put me in a better position to be that guy who puts people together who need each other.  That’s my ultimate goal, I guess–when two people don’t know each other but for because of you, and a friendship or some business referrals come out of it, it’s a happy day for everyone.  I like to be the guy who introduces people to each other.

So anyway–all day, I worked at my job, the same way everyone else does, and all day, all I could think about was this event that was to take place tonight–right after work, in fact.  If one could’ve listened to my internal monologue over the course of the first hour or so, it would’ve sounded something like this:

“Hey, what do I care if no one shows up?  It’s Happy Hour–I get to sit around and drink beer regardless.”

“Hmmm…maybe I should’ve prepared a speech or something for this?  Nah, that’s silly…no one will come to hear a guy give a speech at happy hour.  Do yourself a favor and keep everything short and sweet.  And sit up straighter.”

“Man…it’s been about half an hour and no one is here…It’s okay, I’m cool with it…but if I really was, would I have to tell myself I am?  I guess I’ll sit with my hands folded…no wait, that’s too proper…don’t slouch, it makes you look submissive…but it looks weird if I just sit with them both on the table like this…here, I’ll put out a few business cards arranged in a fan pattern so it’s obvious I’m not here waiting on a girl or something…the server just gave me a funny look about the cards, what was that about?…maybe if I face this way, toward the door, people will see me…well of course they’ll see you, you told the host guy at the front to point people in your direction.  Stop slouching!

“So for next time, I guess I’ll try a Friday night, or maybe something a little more structured, or maybe I’ll put more effort into hyping it more…or maybe I should– “Actually, yes I am with the LinkedIn thing.  Thanks for coming!  What’s your name?”

And then it happened.  The first–and only–person to come up and greet me last night was a gentleman (we’ll call him Jim) who I found to be a perfect example of the type of people I was hoping to meet at this event.  I have a couple of very close friends (and many great acquaintances) who I’ve met at these meetings because I tend to connect well with people who have a “How can I help you?” mentality rather than a “How can you help me?” one–and Jim was definitely the latter.  I enjoyed his company (and found the Martzen at this brewery to be fantastic), and we called it an evening around eight o’clock.
Humble Pie Should At Least Taste Good!

Despite “only” one person coming, I think it was a success if for no other reason than the fact that I got a lot of great, hard data to draw from the next time I try to organize one of these things.  I learned some lessons about the crowd in this area of the country, and about timing, and even managed to test my own confidence (and succeed).  I really have always been confident enough to go to dinner by myself, but I’ve never been left alone at my house on Party Night.  I guess that’s why all of the Greats say that humility is a virtue worth embracing.  Who wants some pie?

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