Ten Quick Tips
This chapter is a free excerpt from A Crash Course In Cover Letters: Adapting An Old School Tool For Your Digital Job Search.
No matter how confident you are in your social media skills, we can all use an occasional refresher. Keep these quick tips in mind the next time your job search takes you online:
- Assume that anything you post online can and will be attributed to you, no matter what privacy precautions you take. This doesn’t mean you have to self-censor to the extreme, but it does mean that you have to be willing to stand behind and take responsibility for your digital paper trail. If you can’t defend what you’ve said or done and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror, think twice about saying it—online or off.
- Set up a Google alert for your name. If you’re being mentioned online, you want to know when, where, and by whom.
- On a related note, Google yourself to see what comes up. In particular, pay attention to which details of your social media profiles are accessible in search results and revisit your privacy options for those accounts accordingly. Can strangers only see your name and location if they happen on your Facebook profile, or can they note your birthdate, hometown, and current employer, as well as browse through your album of past profile pics at their leisure?
- Make sure you use a professional email address for all job-related correspondence. At its safest and most foolproof, that's some iteration of firstname.lastname@example.org. This one is a no-brainer.
- Create a job application email signature that includes your name, number, email address and a link to your professional online presence (portfolio, LinkedIn, etc.). If you already have an email signature that includes personal links (blog, Twitter, Facebook) that you don’t want to share with hiring managers, edit it to ensure that your meticulously-crafted cover email and resume aren’t undermined by a link to your tumblr devoted to pictures of Ryan Gosling in suits.
- Update your definition of networking. It now includes participating in Twitter chats, joining LinkedIn groups, commenting on blogs within your industry, participating in free webinars and reaching out to peers and thought leaders via email to let them know if you find a piece of content they’ve created particularly interesting or useful.
- Follow Twitter accounts that regularly tweet job leads or job ads for your area. Try searching “jobs + <your city> on Twitter to see what comes up. For example:
- If you’re in an industry that appreciates this kind of effort (think media, advertising, tech,etc.) consider creating an infographic resume, or at least registering yourname.com and developing a simple site that provides an overview of your work experience, links to past work. a summary of the type of opportunity you’re currently seeking and plenty of ways for visitors to connect with or contact you.If you want to get really creative—and you know the company you’re targeting will appreciate it—you can even make a site customized to grab their attention like this job hunter keen to work with hot start-up Shopify did.
- If you’re looking for work while already employed, update your LinkedIn consistently instead of sending red flags to all your connections—including your current employer!—by overhauling your entire profile at once. For more LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts check out this advice from one of my Forbes colleagues.
- IRL still exists. Online job search efforts should supplement your in-the-flesh efforts, not replace them. Meeting people, mining your network for leads and getting/keeping active in your field requires shutting the laptop at some point.
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