Competition for jobs in the document industry of the future could be fierce as mergers, consolidation, and outsourcing force document professionals into the job market. Though your resume may include an impressive history of industry knowledge and experience, there will be plenty of other equally qualified candidates vying for job openings. Individuals who find it necessary to make a job change must distinguish themselves from the pack. This can’t be accomplished overnight. You need to start planning for your next job now — regardless of how secure you might be feeling about your current position.
Your Resume Isn’t Enough
A number of people I know in the print and mail industry haven’t really looked for a job for a long time. Things have changed in the way people get hired. Being good at what you do isn’t enough anymore. Having a stellar resume doesn’t automatically advance you to the front of the line. Your background may distinguish you as a mailing savant, but that may not be enough on its own. Employers may be seeking people with skills to help them administer a multi-channel, data-driven, mobile-first communication strategy. Demonstrating that you’re up to speed on current trends and communication technologies could make a difference.
According to CareerBuilder, over 40% of employers use social media and Google to screen job candidates. I can’t tell you specifically who will hire you next, but I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be a stranger. Before you ever talk to anyone about a job someone in the hiring organization will know a lot about you. What they learn online can greatly influence their decision about whether to connect with you or move on to the next candidate.
Not a Time to be “Off the Grid”
For many people, a prospective employer will find no useful professional information online at all. This is bad, as 35% of employers are less likely to interview candidates they can’t find online. Contrarily, 23% of employers responding to the CareerBuilder survey said they have actually hired employees based on their positive online content. Professional images, demonstrations of creativity, endorsements from others, and number of followers are some of the things that contribute to a favorable online impression. Notice that those items take a while to develop. You don’t want to be scrambling around trying to create an online persona the day you start job hunting.
Fortunately, future job-seekers can start implementing strategies right now to begin building the online reputation that will give them an advantage when they need it. Whether you change employers voluntarily, become a layoff casualty, or wish to move up in your current organization you can benefit from an online image boost. Most of the suggestions below won’t take much effort. Spending just a few hours a week in the evenings will get the ball rolling. The ideas below are free or inexpensive, but be cautious about forsaking a professional presentation to save money.
1. Personal Domain Name: You might not be able to get yourname.com, but you should be able to register something acceptable or professional-looking relating to your work or the position you are seeking (mailingpro-yourname.com, montanamailer.com, et cetera). Some website hosting companies include first year domain registrations as part of their promotional pricing. Having a personal website provides a handy place for a blog, testimonials, articles, or other items useful in presenting yourself as an ideal job candidate.
2. Email: Set up an email account associated with your domain name. Not only does it look more professional than a free email account, it automatically points anyone receiving your emails to a blog or web pages associated with your domain.
3. Curated Google Search: Any hiring company or recruiting firm searching on your name is likely to find references to people who are not you. Your information may be pushed to page five or six of the results where searchers are unlikely to see it. Some Google references may even be damaging (I share a name with a criminal who was in the news for a while. I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea!). Build a custom Google search string to narrow the results. Include a hyperlink to the search string in your email signature.
4. Publish: Anyone can publish articles, comments, and observations online. Write for your own website or blog. Also look for publications, blogs, or online repositories where you can contribute written content, videos, or slides connected with your knowledge and experience in the document industry. Publishing in several venues across the web strengthens your reputation and exposes you to more potential employment opportunities but it takes a while for Google to index sites where your content appears. Newly published content may not show up in search results for a couple of months.
5. LinkedIn: The number one place to search for job talent is LinkedIn. Establishing and maintaining a profile there makes your experience and qualifications accessible to anyone. Make sure it is current, accurate, free of spelling errors, and clearly describes the contributions you have made to your company’s success. In addition to your profile, headline, and a business-appropriate photo lots of other LinkedIn features can be used to demonstrate your value as a potential employee and get noticed by hiring authorities.
A. Contacts – Use LinkedIn invitations to connect with other professionals with whom you share a professional interest. I recommend selectively sending a few invitations a day rather than blasting out to all your Hotmail contacts at once. Customizing the invitation message to tell the person why you think it is beneficial to connect is better than relying on LinkedIn’s default invitation. Invite me! I am pleased to add anyone working in the mailing and document industry to my professional network.
B. Groups – Joining groups associated with our industry allows you to start or join discussions. You can send other group members direct messages, widen your network, and be notified by email so you can participate in group discussions. Relevant posts in groups generate increased profile views which lead to more visibility, more connections, and more job opportunities. Some groups require permission to join so allow time for the moderator to approve your request.
C. Skills – Be sure to fill in the skills portion of your LinkedIn profile. Recruiters use this section extensively to locate job candidates that match requirements listed on their requisitions.
D. Endorsements – These are comments from current and former colleagues, managers, or customers that express their sentiments about working with you. The best way to get endorsements is to give them.
E. Media – More powerful than text, LinkedIn allows you to share relevant knowledge with your audience through slide shows and videos.
5. Google Alerts: I have used Google Alerts for years to monitor mentions of myself, industry news, companies, and individuals. You’ll get a daily email with links to articles published on the web about topics you’ve identified. Use alerts to get informed about company announcements, such as promotions, mergers, acquisitions, or expansions which may present employment opportunities. Topics in the news can be a great inspiration for articles you will post on blogs or your website. Some of the material in my columns in this magazine started out as ideas spurred by Google Alerts.
You can initiate several strategies now that will improve your chances of landing your next job or making a career move. It doesn’t have to be a full time effort – especially if you are currently working. Pick out a few items you can manage and then set aside some time to work on them every week. When the time comes, you’ll be glad you started building a more robust online presence.
HOW TO BUILD CURATED GOOGLE SEARCHES
If someone with your name has a significant online presence, their content may bury your own information deep in the search results. Create curated searches to make it easy for prospective employers to find the online references you want them to see.
1. Craft a search string that limits search results to relevant pages. Use the OR operators, quote marks, and minus signs to refine search results. TIP: Use the form at https://www.google.com/advanced_search to build the search string. Google limits searches to 32 words.
2. Perform the search until satisfied with the results
3. Copy the Google-generated hyperlink from the title bar and save it.
4. Add an image or a “Search for me on Google” text link in your email signature and add the hyperlink to it.
Mike Porter is President of Print/Mail Consultants, a firm that helps companies in the document industry increase awareness for their products and services – which isn’t much different from the objectives of an individual looking for a job. You are invited to visit www.printmailconsultants.com and sign up for his free newsletters.