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How job seekers can use today’s digital market

The 2011 job market is ending on a positive note. With unemployment shrinking to a mere 8.6% — its lowest level since May 2008 — and a steadily growing economy, businesses are planning on hiring and recruiting even more as their confidence in customer demand builds.

How Job seekers can use today's digital market

In this new, growing market, those seeking their next dream job should cultivate their presence and contacts strategically in places where employers will be on the lookout for the best talent. According to the MSU survey [PDF] of more than 3,000 companies conducted last month, social media has flourished as a burgeoning recruitment strategy, becoming a more mainstream approach for companies of all sizes and industries, even the most conservative. For job seekers, social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter have established new ways getting discovered by employers, as well as directly reaching recruiters and hiring managers.

Here’s the scoop on what job seekers should know in order to be successful in today’s digital job market.

Your Social Media Profiles Are as Important Your Resume (If Not More Important)

The MSU report asserts that 36% of companies surveyed are using social media for recruiting. In today’s competitive market, recruiters look for the most current information on candidates, which is readily and easily available on social networks. Job seekers should actively include links to their complete and up-to-date Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter profiles in their applications. When creating your profiles, do not just import your resume — it often contains too much detailed information. Rather, build your profile from scratch with a concise description of your prior experience to grab a recruiter’s attention. To make yourself more discoverable, search engine optimize your title and skills.

Be sure to use social news streams as a dynamic extension of your traditional resume. Employers are interested in candidates who are passionate about their work. Job hopefuls should share interesting and relevant news about your industries and areas of expertise, demonstrating their knowledge and establishing yourself as an essential player in the fields. While the social news dialogue ought to maintain a professional tone, you should also reveal yourself to be a fun, authentic individual.

80% of Success is Showing up

Social media enables us to stand out, to be more noticeable, to differentiate ourselves from the masses and to tell the whole story behind and beyond a one-page resume. When contributing to your news streams and profiles, choose current topics of interest, start participating in discussions about your professional field and industry trends, and share your own hands-on tricks of the trade. Many companies are now making use of Facebook Pages that are dedicated exclusively to careers and hiring. These pages are generally run by recruiters and talent acquisition professionals that are looking to attract and hire candidates. Savvy job seekers should make use of these pages and proactively ask questions about job openings, the specifics of a company’s interview process, or any upcoming career events. Responses are generally instantaneous, and you will quickly establish connections within the company.

Additionally, every field has its own industry thought leaders broadcasting on Twitter. You should follow the influencers in your field, contribute to the discussion and share it with others who might be interested. Take advantage of @-mention feature to keep participants engaged and include hashtags to increase the visibility of your tweets.

You should also join LinkedIn Groups related to your field or moderated by a company you are interested in. Since hiring managers are always on the lookout for team players, you should establish a reputation by sharing your opinion, answering questions and offering advice in the group discussion forums. Join specific company groups to gain additional insight and keep up on the latest hiring news. Recruiters are very active in these groups, and taking steps to establish a positive LinkedIn presence will help to assure that you get a call.

Social Networks Enable Direct Interaction

There was a time when contacting recruiters on job sites and boards was difficult, and proactively reaching out to hiring managers was nearly impossible. Social media has created a culture of openness, and has all but eliminated the ‘black hole’ that resumes have fallen into for decades. Many companies even highlight their recruiters on job postings; not only can you contact a recruiter directly, but you can often view recruiters’ and hiring managers’ social media profiles before contacting them.

Job seekers need to connect to recruiters who are hiring in their field and location. If you don’t know them directly, subscribe to them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to stay current on all job openings, and work towards developing a positive relationship with them.

Your Networks Help You Find Jobs (and Help Employers Find You)

More companies than ever are cutting their job advertising budgets, opting to channel their recruiting efforts through referral hiring. The MSU report indicates that 44% of companies use referral hiring, and 49% tap into alumni networks in order to recruit. Companies are drawing on their employee’s social networks to share jobs and attract the most qualified candidates. The more extensive your personal network is, the greater your odds of encountering these unadvertised job opportunities.

Grow your networks by reaching out and connecting to people with whom you have either professional or personal relationships. If you don’t know the person well, begin by subscribing to their feed or ask a friend for an introduction. As in real life, opportunities can arise from any connection — a co-worker, a friend, a neighbor, etc. Many companies publish their job openings and career events on their Facebook Pages, so connect to the pages of companies that are of interest to you to start receiving active job openings in your news feed with little effort.

With the economy on the mend and hiring rates rising, job seekers should not hesitate to break into the social media sphere. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter offer an abundance of ways to connect with companies, foster your professional reputation, gain exposure to job postings, and ultimately, realize your professional aspirations. Establish your online professional brand and presence now. Your dream job is waiting for you.

Facebook Timeline is your digital resume

For those of you who don’t know (have you been living under a rock?), Facebook is slowly debuting the Timeline to its 800+ million users. Currently, this update is available for those who opt in, but it’s rolling out to replace the Facebook profile we’ve all come to know, love, and obsessively study.

As much as jobs folks like me like to think Facebook users automatically think about their careers when Zuckerberg rolls out a new feature, I’ll admit that it’s not the case. So, I’m here to say the new Timeline profile format has made Facebook more job-search friendly than ever. After all, it’s a resume. That’s right. When you stop and look at it, Facebook’s Timeline is effectively a resume. From the giant cover image at the top to the chronological organization down the line, your Facebook profile is a resume for your life, not just your career.

What Does This Mean?

In recent years, it’s pretty common knowledge that an increasing number of employers are turning to the likes of Google and social media to learn more about applicants and current employees. Once Timeline goes 100% live, expect this number to explode.

Until now, the Facebook profile has provided a current slice of a user’s life. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty details or look a week, month, or year into the past, it takes some searching and clicking. With Timeline, employers can learn more about users by searching specific time frames and seeing how the details mesh together.

Ultimately, Facebook is going to become the go-to site for more curious employers and clients. Personalized and manicured Timelines are simply going to be more attractive.

How Can I Use This To My Advantage?

Don’t spaz. Fortunately, the Timeline makes presentation easy for those of use who aren’t as Facebook-savvy as we’d like. Privacy settings will remain the same, posts will fall into place, and you’ll find that mixed media fits into a pretty snazzy arrangement.

​Check the locks. It’s true that no privacy settings are going to be changed. However, those dorky status updates you wrote in 2006 are going to be a whole lot more accessible on your Timeline. Facebook gives you seven days to review the new format before your Timeline goes live, so do your due diligence now.

Pick your crowd. Along with overall privacy settings, your Timeline is going to work a whole lot better if you refine your audiences. Organize your business contacts into a list so that they’re the only ones who can see your industry-specific content. Personalizing your profile to fit the crowd will make your Timeline look so much better.


Facebook Timeline is your digital resume

Customize. One of the most striking differences you’ll find in the Facebook Timeline would have to be the cover photo. It’s smack dab at the top of your profile, so make it nice. Pick something that works for everyone who could possibly see your profile. You already know that picture from the New Year’s party isn’t going to work.

Prioritize. If you’re an active user, then all your content isn’t going to fit on your Timeline. While Facebook automatically guesses what content is important enough to be expanded, it could definitely use your input. Expand the information you think is important so that it can be seen by the right people.

Do you think the Timeline is similar to a resume? How else can it be used in the job search? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

How to promote your website content

OK, you’ve got a great new site and planned out a fail-proof content strategy. You’re going to be posting all sorts of interesting and insightful blog posts and newsletters, and everyone is going to come to read it. Then they are going to hire you to do work. Right? If you build it they will come. Isn’t that the way it works?

Not really…

While we are big proponents of a strong content strategy, simply putting the content out there is not going to drive traffic from far and near to come visit your site. You have to spend the extra time promoting your content as well. Producing the content is the first big step, and it is definitely going to send you in the right direction, but promoting that great content is just as important.

Newsletter Promotion

One great piece of content that is actually a promotion tool as well is an email newsletter. Just to be clear, when I say “email newsletter,” I am referring to long-form content that is well-writen and is distributed via an attractive email that includes a graphic, an abstract of the article, and a link back to the site.

The email should alert subscribers and drive them to your site to read the content, not deliver it all straight to their inbox. If you just deliver the full article, then it just becomes content, not a promotion tool. However, by providing an abstract of the article, then drawing the readers back to your site, you not only are promoting the newsletter content that lives on your site, but it also makes the reader aware of the other content you have to offer.

I would also recommend watching the webinar by Dan Zarrella called “The Science of Email Marketing,” to learn more about the best times to send your newsletters, the best words to use in subject lines, as well as some real data about frequency and the importance of subscriber freshness.

Blog Digest

While on the topic of email marketing, you should also consider putting together a digest email that promotes your short-form content (think: blog posts) by sending out a weekly or bi-monthly (or whatever frequency is appropriate) email that includes a list of recent content with links back to the site.

A digest can serve as a reminder to the user of all the content you are continually publishing. A relative few people utilize RSS readers, as most would prefer to receive the updates right in their inbox, so we suggest giving them this option.

Promotion through social media

I hate to be one to jump on the bandwagon, but the fact of the matter is that social media is one of the best ways to promote your content, if you do it well. You must determine what social media platforms are appropriate for your target audience. Is Facebook the way to go, or are most of your users active in LinkedIn? Or maybe they’re early adaptors and you want to promote on the new Google+.

Odds are, it is a mixture of social media avenues, and a mixture of active and passive promotion. Active promotion refers to you actively posting your website content to your social media pages. Passive refers to enabling sharing options on your site to leverage the social networks of your readers.

What we do to promote our content through social media is not going to work for everyone, and what others do probably won’t work for us. But, I will use Newfangled as an example.

Whenever we send a newsletter or post a new blog post, we promote it by first tweeting about it. Usually Chris Butler will tweet it once it is published, and it will usually get a couple of re-tweets from others in the office.

The other social media avenue we utilize is LinkedIn. We started a group on LinkedIn which is fairly active, and we promote discussion in this group. Because of this small, engaged audience, it makes LinkedIn a good place for us to promote our content as well. Joining active, tightly-focused LinedIn groups can be very beneficial because it enables you to reach a very targeted audience. Some other niche groups I would recommend are the PJA Advertising: This Week in Digital Media group, or the HOW Mind Your Own Business group, just to name a couple.

Use your website

Sometimes the best promotion tool is your own website. A website that is focused on content strategy should have various avenues to promote the all-important content.

For example, we have the ability to publicize newsletters and blog posts in specified areas of our homepage so that they are seen as soon as a user hits the site.

Another way we publicize within the site is our related content sidebar widget. If you look over to the right on this page, you’ll see a sidebar widget at the very top that suggests other related articles that you may enjoy. This is a more passive promotion, but we have noticed that it can be quite affective.

Make it personal

Occasionally taking the time to send a uniquely crafted, regular old email to someone who you think would enjoy reading and benefit from the content can really stand out. Promotion doesn’t always have to be to the masses – it’s OK to promote content at an individual level.

These are just a few examples of how to promote your content. Clearly, there are other ways to promote your content and your brand, but remember, writing the content is only half the work. The other half is getting it into the hands of people who want to read it.

What you need to know about Google+ brand pages

Google has decided to breathe down Facebook’s neck with a new social network that looks an awful lot like Facebook, only with a plus sign attached. Soon we’ll see a Google+ version of Facebook’s wildly popular product pages, even though Google’s group product manager, Christian Oestlien, announced today that it would temporarily be shutting down non-user profiles, while opening up a beta program for those who apply.

Before we can predict Google’s upcoming “public” version of product pages, we need to acknowledge the differences between Facebook and Google’s strategy. Even though Google presented the world with a product that is 97% similar to Facebook’s product, it is attempting to differentiate itself by fulfilling a real need in the social world — the need to divide your friends into different groups, just like in real life.

Google is attempting to distance itself from Facebook by mainly creating “circles” that allow you to divide the people you know into groups and share individually targeted content. This might seem like a small difference, but in the social world, a slight change in delivery can completely affect the nature of the interaction. For example, Facebook requires that you accept every friend, but Twitter makes it a bit easier for people out of your network to follow your newsfeed — creating a more “open” environment.

All of our clients at FanGager, including global organizations like American Express and Microsoft, are looking for methods to target specific audiences on social networks — like posting wall messages for women only. My assumption is that Google will attempt to capitalize on this void, and apply the notion of building individual audiences to its version of pages. This will allow page owners to communicate with different groups through one main page.

So, according to this logic, the products page will only look similar to personal profiles when logging in. Perhaps in addition to asking what circle they want to join, surfers will also be asked if they wish to join circles based on a specific category — such as those looking for discounts, for brand fans or for fans of the brand’s spokesperson. This way, they can choose the value they get personally when visiting the page.

The next stage will be combining all of Google’s unique abilities into a section of the product pages, such as its map services and the business services basket. This may include the unique features of Google Analytics, which could feature not only the page’s results, but more importantly, the movement from the Google+ page to the website; linking the visitor’s social engagement with sales and other ROI goals.

So, who wins and who loses when Google+ launches its own version of Facebook product pages?

Short-term loser: brands First of all, Google+ shut down any brand pages already created and is now controlling access to a beta program that will be great for brands that get in early like Ford and MTV but bad for everyone else. It creates a period of uncertainty for brands, as well as another platform they need to be concerned about.

But on the plus side, this delay will give brands some time to get used to the platform and start developing a strategy. Brands will still have to train its social media managers and focus resources that may already be taxed by other social sites for the new marketing platform. But, for now, brands can figure out how, and if they should, create messaging that will be consistent across all its social networks, along with the daunting task of managing more fans.

In the long term, brands could be the overall biggest winner of the targeted “circle” trend. If all moves forward as it should, and other sites catch up to the trend, brands will be able to develop more individualized messaging that will meet specific ROI goals — i.e. sales, website traffic, etc.

Immediate winner: fans and customers Once the pages are officially launched, fans will be able to create their own experience and conversations with brands. So, instead of receiving “white noise” from product pages, they will potentially receive what is only relevant to their individual interests. This can include information on specific discount promotions, customer queries on individual products or issues and other unique requests. Basically, they will now have the ability to get what they really want out of the brands they follow.

Facebook The social network will do what it always does — pressure itself to be better. (As shown by yesterday’s new product rollouts.) Expect it to continue to expand its product pages with new applications and services. Sure, it’ll probably add similar Google services (its only fair), like more advanced data analytics and targeted fan engagement activities. But I don’t think Facebook is worried, yet, due to its current social dominance.

Content future of Google+

I have been spending time on Google+ since its launch, and though people on Google+ are talking a lot about Google+ (isn’t that breaking the first rule of fight club?) every day I begin to see its potential take it into different directions — not based upon the platform itself, but rather based upon its interoperability with Google’s other properties. Seamless YouTube video integration. Real-time photo sharing via Google Photos. Music library streaming via Google Music. Document sharing. Connections via Google Talk. Surely, more features will be rolled out over the coming weeks to millions of users still trying to figure out the purpose of the platform. And that’s the beauty of platforms — the users get to figure out how they are ultimately used, and shape their evolution.

But it seems that there is a path that Google+ is headed down, with or without our complicity: a media-sharing and discovery powerhouse. Its tight integration with Google’s own suite of content creation and consumption products and properties make Google+ a wonderful real-time content-sharing and discovery engine. As we have seen with Facebook, nothing engages consumers like good content in their social networking streams, and there is no shortage of that in the Google ecosystem to proliferate and reverberate through Google+’s echo chamber.

Echo chambers often start out as just that, until they become more mainstreamed. Twitter has been on this path for years, and is about to take their next great leap, iOS5 and iPhone integration. With “Share With Twitter” an option throughout the new iPhone operating system, millions of people will be introduced to a service that has been differentiated enough from Facebook to attract celebrities and their fans, as a means of constant connectivity — especially around spur-of-the-moment photos and videos. With a Twitter/Apple alliance, more photos and videos will be shared via Twitter than ever — putting Google in a position to defend their territory.

Enter Google+

Play around with Google+ for 10 minutes on an Android-powered phone and you’ll get an idea where this is all going — to the same place that Twitter is: real-time multimedia content sharing and discovery. Photos you take get instantly uploaded to the cloud (via your Google account) and displayed in your streams, and +1s on links and content get factored into Google’s search algorithms — and your profile. If you want further proof that Google is in the content sharing/discovery/curation/programming business more than ever, take a look at YouTube’s experimental redesign.

I have ranted a great deal about the importance of brands’ commitments to making their content portable (and better and more plentiful), and it seems that will never have been more important than it will be within weeks, when critical masses start adopting the new features of platforms and gateways that they know and love, connecting to each other around content that they all find relevant, sharing it with others they know will care.

Brands are about to get two very important content distribution channels (in addition to Facebook), and should be developing their content distribution strategies now, if they haven’t already. Facebook will likely remain a channel for consumers to have a relationship with the people and brands they “like,” but Google+ and Twitter look to be on a collision course as channels that may drive significantly more content shares and views due to their platform, device, and software integrations. Add Google’s Search and product importance into the mix, and you don’t just get distribution, you get filing, storage, and streaming as well.

Google+ is not a fill-in-the-blank-killer just yet. But it will impact the way we find and share the stuff that we find interesting — especially for those dependent upon Google products and mobile devices. If you’re a brand, figure out how to get interesting very quickly, as the quality of your content is going to affect how and why people engage with you across every device and platform.