Get Career-fit with Social Media

These days, it doesn’t take long before I refer to social media in my career coaching sessions.

Yesterday, I met a client who was researching artificial intelligence as a potential career option. Inspired by a Social Media Career Cafe session I organised with Natalie Sisson, aka the Suitcase Entreprenuer (that’s me with Natalie below), and attending her BYOB (Build Your Online Business) workshop in Melbourne last week, I suggested he create  a blog, and post his progress.

I couldn’t have dreamt about such advice, when I started career transition consulting in 2008.

Social media is a career catalyst…it let’s you accomplish a lifetimes worth of work in a short period of time. – Dan Schwabel

Just four years ago, my only exposure to social media was via LinkedIn. Despite just about everyone I know being on Facebook, I refused to join. Then in late 2010, for some reason Twitter piqued my interest, and I began tweeting on careers and leadership as @careersheila.

Then, I was asked to run LinkedIn workshops. This spurred me into action to learn more about social media. I wasn’t all that tech savvy, and knew there would be some whippet-smart people in the room. I needed to work out how to give them value from the session. I started following a few social media mavens, and digital nomads such as Natalie Sisson. Twitter gave me access to everything that I needed to know, and so much more.

It wasn’t long before I tippy-toed into blogging, and last year, despite my resistance, I finally plunged into Facebook, and created a page for Career Sheila. Now the LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress quadrella is part of my daily routine. It’s fair to say that I’m a little smitten with social media.

So why do I bring social media into my career conversations with professionals?

Social media offers the tools to empower and energise your career in the following ways:

  • Researching and following prospective employers & people you admire
  • Keeping abreast of ideas & developments in your area of expertise
  • Exploring potential options & pathways, in advance of any career leap
  • Developing thought leadership, and cultivating an online personal brand
  • Presenting a portfolio of your work = a complete picture of your expertise
  • Seeking advice from others, to assist with career challenges, choices & decisions
  • Accessing inexpensive learning & development opportunities
  • Building & extending networks within your profession, and those you’d like to explore
  • Undertaking due diligence for a business, virtual career or self-employment.

These strategies will not only give you an edge during job search and career transition, they’ll help develop your overall Career Fitness – for wherever you’re heading.

[Tweet “Social media offers the tools to empower and energise your career, wherever you’re heading.”]

What a tweetie bird told me…

We’re about to celebrate our third anniversary. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I wondered how anyone could be seduced by 140 characters. But when I realised that it wasn’t all Kardashians, inanity and idle gossip, I tippy-toed my way into the conversation, one tweet at a time.

As someone who stared at a LinkedIn invitation for a year, I could never be accused of being an ‘early adopter’ of social media. Decision made, I took the plunge and created a Twitter account, searched for people to follow, then watched silently from the sidelines.

When I worked out that I couldn’t do too much damage, I ‘retweeted’ someone’s tweet to my ‘followers’, who were gathering momentum out of nowhere. Once I got over those sinister stubby links, my world was transformed by articles and blog posts around the globe. The news updates and current thinking not only kept me informed, it inspired me personally and professionally.

Three years on, Twitter is my bespoke news engine, and takes me on a voyage of discovery in an instant. It allows me to spread the word of others, and gives life to my passions and expertise. Aside from the tweeps who make me smile, I tune in to thought leaders, journalists, politicians, and the musings of ordinary people across the globe. It’s armchair education on steroids.

These days I recommend Twitter for professionals to:

  • Keep abreast of the latest thinking in your industry or area of expertise – whatever your job status
  • Learn what’s happening in organisations you’d like to join, work with or admire
  • Gain insights about the attitudes and priorities of key decision makers and leaders
  • Access information that may not be available elsewhere, and be the first to know about new opportunities
  • Share expertise, offer opinions and connect with new people
  • Find new energy when other channels of communication seem exhausted.

All of which may give you an edge, when you most need it. They’re just some of my reasons for listening to the tweetie birds. If you’re wary, why not sign-up incognito, and follow a few people, companies or associations for a while. And when you do, please follow me @careerstylenote!


What’s in a LinkedIn Connection?

Do you ever think about your why you’re connecting with someone on LinkedIn?

When I joined LinkedIn with some trepidation in 2008, I observed quietly from the sidelines, and tippy-toed around as I tried to make sense of the protocol. My LinkedIn network has grown organically, slowly but surely, one connection at time.

Today, even though I admit to being a little besotted with LinkedIn, I connect cautiously. The truth is, I’m only comfortable connecting with people I’ve met throughout the course of my career. Contacts with whom I’ve had a shared experience, and feel that I can approach anytime.

Sometimes I hesitate before taking action, as their 1st level connections will become visible to mine, and vice versa, in a mouse click. I pause to consider the impact this connection may have on my other professional relationships, as my “little black book” is opened wider to scrutiny, and potential abuse – the very reason that some recruiters hide their connections.

My strategy was confirmed after I read Why You Should Reject LinkedIn Connection Requests. In her post, Mildred Talabi shares how she threw herself into LinkedIn with gusto, opening her network to all and sundry, until recently, when she was reminded:

“networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships”

After some soul searching, and analysis of her network, Mildred realised that LinkedIn is more potent when it reflects real life relationships, and wasn’t going to accept random LinkedIn requests from strangers anymore. Mildred’s epiphany prompted me to revisit the connection criteria and how people appear in searches on LinkedIn. I figured that these guidelines must be there for good reason:

  • On LinkedIn, the basic type of connection is a contact you know personally and who you trust on a professional level.
  • You also have an extended network of connections made up of people that your connections know. Your communication options for your extended network vary based on how closely connected you are.
  • LinkedIn people search generates its relevance score uniquely for each member. As a result, even though a query will return the same results for everyone, the order is determined in part by the Profile, activity, and connections of the person searching.

Put simply, the more you connect with people you know, the better the quality of your 1st connections, and the greater your ability to access and leverage value from your overall network. This is from a personal perspective, and as to how LinkedIn attributes the ‘relevance’ of your profile, when you and others initiate a search.

So next time you’re scrolling through your LinkedIn connections, think about your strategy for extending and accepting invitations, and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does your LinkedIn network reflect your real world connections?
  2. Do you know your 1st connections personally, and trust them on a professional level? 
  3. Are you developing a network of mutually beneficial relationships?

By the way, you too can can generate a visualisation of your LinkedIn network, by visiting

How Recruiters Use LinkedIn

In their 2012 Social Recruiting Activity Report, Bullhorn Reach analysed the activity of 35,000 recruiters across the ‘big three’ social networks – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn was the star, with 48% of recruiters using the platform exclusively to source candidates. Check out their How Recruiters Are Using Social Media INFOGRAPHIC, which illustrates the key findings.

The LinkedIn business case for professional job seekers is further supported by the data underpinning this Social Recruiting: How to use social media to land a job INFOGRAPHIC. This research claims that 98% of recruiters are using social media to find candidates, and 94.5% have successfully hired candidates through LinkedIn.

Given that recruiters are integral to every job search, what do you need to know about how recruiters use LinkedIn, and what they look for in your profile?

Here’s what I learned, when I surveyed some Melbourne-based recruiters recently:

  • Recruiters use LinkedIn to identify candidates, business contacts, information on clients, for general networking, and checking out who’s linked to whom.
  • They refer to LinkedIn from at least three times a week, to several times a day.
  • Recruiters conduct filtered searches by name, location, industry, specific companies, position titles and keywords.
  • They use their LinkedIn networks for referrals & suggestions.
  • Recruiters look for many things in a profile: work background and experience; position title and content; achievements; areas of expertise, capabilities and skills; qualifications and contacts. This varies from one recruiter to another.
  • Profile Information should be up to date, easy to understand, not too detailed and checked for grammar and spelling.
  • To be found by recruiters, use key words appropriate to your industry, responsibilities, qualifications and titles. Make new connections, join groups and advertise your interest in topics.

 What was the best piece of advice?

Take the time to be clear, concise and articulate about your experience and career history – all of which demonstrates a confident profile.

Do you need to review your profile, to be found by recruiters on LinkedIn?