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Saturday, March 21, 2015

It’s Time for a Social Media Spring Cleaning!

It's spring! If you are job seeking, you know that employers will be hiring en masse during these next few weeks and into the summer. In our last article, we just scratched the surface on the matter of how important it is to be cognizant of  your social media presence when job searching. Spring cleaning should not only be about tossing things out that no longer serve a purpose, but also about reinventing one’s self. We are going to share some tips on how to put your best foot forward regarding social media.

There is a popular misconception that it’s better to play it safe by having no social media presence at all. This is a similar mindset to how some view the credit: that it’s better to have none than bad credit. However, like establishing credit, if you have no presence on social media, that itself may raise some questions, as the majority of employers admit to doing searches for candidates on social networks.

It is also true that most adults of working age use at least one social networking site. In fact, the Pew Research Center found that among adults over the age of 18, 74% use social media in some form, the biggest users being Millennials  aged 18-29 (89%) and those 30-49 (82%.) 

Your Photos

Many social media users utilize these networks to stay in touch with friends and family. One major part of that is sharing photos of children, life events, and parties. Nobody is going to find fault in your posting pictures of your wedding, your child’s birthday, or a class reunion. What is going to raise red flags for an employer are racy shots of your Bachelor/ette Party, multiple scenes taken at a nightclub or bar, or on Spring Break. Think that only your friends can see them? Think again. 

Despite privacy settings, it has been documented that sites like Facebook have sold user information in the past. Personal data mining sites, such as Spokeo, have made it easier to obtain information about individuals that they may have thought were private, like photos, connections, usernames, and e-mail addresses.  Contrary to the sense of security you may feel in sharing, anything you post on the internet is essentially public. The best rule of thumb is to assume whatever you post can be discovered. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss or colleagues to see.

Google Yourself

Just like actual cleaning, this is something that everyone should do regularly. Put your name in the search bar, ideally in quotations, and see what comes up. Try it again without quotations and variants (i.e., if your name is Robert, try Bob, Rob, and Bobby, as well.) Some of what you find is going to be public records generated from government agencies, such as the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle), your local jury database, or even voter registries. If it’s coming from an official source, there is probably not a lot you can do about that, though you can remove your info from certain aggregator sites. Keep in mind that like your credit score, the Google search results you find are not updated daily. It can take up to a month for Google to index a new piece of data about you. 

Be Accountable

Are there five different Facebook accounts connected to your name? Or an old MySpace account from high school that you haven’t used in ten years? Get rid of them. Google indexes all of those profiles, which will be what comes up when they do a Google search. Close or deactivate any account that you no longer use for that matter. These are all part of your social media footprint and it’s best to remove any clutter. Who you were sophomore year of high school may not be a reflection of who you are today. It is to your advantage to control what information about you is available. 

Plant the Seed

Above I’d mentioned that it may appear a bit odd if an employer searched for you and nothing much comes up. Maybe you have a common name and thousands of hits come up when that name is searched and none of them are you. This is an opportunity in disguise. Instead of hoping that you can’t be found, perhaps you should do just the opposite.
Why would you want to do this, you ask? You are a brand. Whatever skills and talents you possess are part of your personal brand. We have staff whose talents lie in such diverse fields as education, film, and photography, and have effectively created a social media presence to highlight that. 

If you are a photographer and are going in that direction career wise, then it makes sense for you to open up an Instagram account and photo gallery, such as Flickr, or Picasa. If you are a great writer, you can showcase that by opening a blog of your work and posting links to it on Facebook and Twitter. For any professional skillset, if you are serious in your job search, there is no reason why you should not be on LinkedIn, which you can not only use to connect with colleagues and former supervisors, but also share your work on (blogs, photography, volunteer projects, etc.)

Controlling your social media presence—your personal brand- is a must.

  • Delete unflattering photos of yourself and ask that others do too.
  • Get rid of accounts you no longer use.
  • Do a Google search of your name, including any usernames, alias, and e-mail addresses you’ve used.
  • Use social media networks to showcase your talent and get employers to notice you in a positive way.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

6 Things to Do During Your Job Search

Summer is just around the corner and the economy is improving. Now is the perfect time to start applying for jobs, especially if you’re looking for something in the hospitality, tourism, or food service sectors, which are popular in New York City the warmer months. Many other jobs seekers have the same idea.

Here are some tips on having the edge over the competition.

1. Do your homework. 
      Come to the interview prepared with questions and lots of answers. You’d be hard pressed to find a company that doesn’t have a website, and nowadays, a social media presence- use them to research and learn more about it. Take notes about key points and be sure they slide off the tip of your tongue with ease. 
    Ask questions. Show that you are genuinely interested in the position and the company you’ve applied to. However, make sure that you aren’t asking things that you should already know if you had done your research. Nothing turns off an employer faster than an interviewee asking, “So, what do you do here?” at a job interview. At minimum you should know who their CEO is, what the vision for the company is, and who their biggest competitors are. 
2. Hone your phone skills.
      Never underestimate the impact that telephone manners have on your job search success. Out of service numbers, blaring ringback music, returning messages two days later- or not at all (!)- these are all deal breakers for employers. They convey that you aren’t serious about finding a job and aren’t reliable. Not a good premise for a positive working relationship. 
3. Clean it up.
      Not your room, your social media presence. A 2014 CareerBuilder report revealed that over 40% of employers used social media to prescreen potential employees. Common reasons for passing on inviting in an applicant for an interview were inappropriate photos, references to drugs and alcohol, and unprofessional language and behavior, according to the report. Be aware that just because you use an alternate name or use privacy settings, it is still very possible for this information to be found using both your e-mail address and cell phone number. 
4. Get linked. 
       93% of recruiters use LinkedIn, so having a profile on this career networking site is a must. These workforce professionals assist companies by searching for qualified candidates and matching them to job openings. You can also find jobs and crucial information about the companies you are applying to and might even be able to learn about the very person who is interviewing you. Knowledge is power and should be used to your benefit to give you an edge in your job search. 
5. Check your e-mail!
      It is entirely possible that the job you sent your resume and cover letter to will never call you. But not for the reason you’re thinking. Today more companies are using e-mail to invite candidates in for an interview complete with Google and Microsoft Outlook calendar invites with days, times, and locations (yes, you can click on it and the address will pop up on Google Maps!) When you get that invitation for an interview, reply ASAP! 
    On that note, also make sure that you are utilizing best practices in e-mail etiquette. That means using a professional-sounding e-mail address- using your first and last name is a good start-, making sure to check your draft for spelling and grammatical errors, and using fonts that are easy to read. 
6. Get Help from Jobs-Plus
      We are here to assist with all of your job search needs. We offer recruitments and information sessions about jobs. Our team is happy to assist with resume and cover letter writing, mock interviews, promotion and salary negotiation advice, and more. We also have a computer lab on site where you may independently job search, as well as make copies of your resume and cover letter. 
    Visit us during the hours of 9:00am to 5:00pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9:00am to 8:00pm on Tuesday and Thursday, and Saturday 9:00am to 4:00pm through mid-April (every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month thereafter.)
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