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Unemployed? Some tips for job hunting online.

I have a number of friends who are unemployed, and I’m often sharing various suggestions with them.  I thought it’d be useful to them (and others) to summarize those ideas in one place.

However, I’m not going to show you how to find job openings.  You can use LinkedIn, Monster, HotJobs, Craigslist or any number of other services.  I’m simply going to show you some things that might increase your chances of landing an interview once you’ve found a job that you want to chase.  After that, you’re on your own!

LinkedIn

Studies show that 50-80% of employers use LinkedIn at some point in the hiring process.  Here are some specific things that you should look at:

Profile: At the very least, make sure you have an account with a completed profile (photo, work history, etc).

Status Updates: It’s important to post regular status updates so you can show employers what you’re interested in.  For example, some of my recent updates show my family life, social media news, information about the iPad, Twitter usability and things of that nature.

Use the second level: If you find an opening at a company you like, search for that company on LinkedIn.  If you have a decent sized network, there’s a good chance that someone in your “Second Level” works there.  For example, none of my connections work at Home Depot.  However, by searching for “Home Depot” I find that I have over 100 second level connections.  I can find the one that’s closest to the position I’m interested in, then find out who our common connection is, as seen on the right.  By doing this, I can have Roger connect me to Jim, and now I’m talking to someone inside the organization before I even earn an interview!

Recommendations: LinkedIn has a very cool “recommendations” system.  Ask some of your previous employers/employees/clients to write recommendations for you, which will help to enhance your profile.  Be sure to return the favor for them.

Control Your Search Results

I don’t have exact numbers, but we all know that many potential employers are going to Google you.  What will they find?  If you can take control of your search results, you can determine exactly what they’ll find.

The one catch is that you need to have a fairly unique name.  If your name is Jim Smith, it’s going to be difficult to dominate the search results for that phrase.  For many of us, though, you can easily take control.  Use my name for example (Mickey Mellen).  I have complete control over the first five results for my name, and solid control over 9 of the 10.

How is that done?  The simple way is to have active profiles on a variety of different social networking sites.  If you have active accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, those should rise to the top rather quickly.  How do you keep them active?  Read the next section to find out…

Ping.fm

I dicussed Ping.fm a few months ago, and the information there is still relevant.  Use it to post to a variety of services, and those services will slowly rise higher in the search results for your name.  This gives you a great way to have control over a large chunk of the vanity searches for your name, and will show potential employers the kinds of things that you’re interested in (keeping up with industry news, etc).

Once you have things set up, using Ping.fm at least a few times a week; maybe even a few times each day.

Create a custom URL on Facebook

Just a quick tip here — go to facebook.com/username and choose a short address for your profile.  This will help your Facebook profile rank slightly higher for your name, and give you an address you can use on your business card, resume, or anywhere that you think is applicable.

In my case, I changed from a horrible address like “facebook.com/profile.php?id=123456789” to simply “facebook.com/mickmel“.

Use the same profile picture everywhere

As you get more involved in these various services, it helps if you can brand yourself a little bit.  By using the same photo on every site, people are more likely to recognize you.  Once I found a picture I was happy with, I spent a few minutes and created a variety of sizes of it.  Some of them include:

  • 584×876 — Tall image, simply resized to a decent size
  • 584×584 — Square version
  • 133×200 — Smaller version of the tall image
  • 90×90 — Small and square
  • 75×75 — Smaller and square

I put those in my Dropbox folder, so I always have them with me.  Whenever I register on a new site, I can grab the size/aspect that works best for that site and keep rolling.

Don’t be stupid

This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyhow.  Once you control all of the top listings for your name, don’t do anything stupid on your account.  Don’t bad-mouth anyone, post inappropriate photos, etc.  The level of sharing is up to you (some people share personal items, others don’t mention their family), but keep it clean and respectful.

Get a  better email address

When I was reviewing applications for my job at Mt. Bethel, I couldn’t help but take notice of their email address.  If someone submitted a resume with an @aol.com address, I started to feel a bit worse about them.  It didn’t affect who we ultimately chose to bring in, but it gave them kind of a bad first impression.

Lifehacker had an article a while back on this kind of topic.  While it likely won’t make or break you, every little thing you do can help.  Personally, I’d recommend either Gmail or a self-branded address (bob@smith.com), but there are a lot of good options out there.

A few other tools

If you’re a Twitter user, the folks at TweetDeck have a new product out called JobDeck.  It’s essentially TweetDeck with TwitterJobSearch tied into it.  Nothing fancy, but could be of value.

If you need help with your resume, CeeVee could be helpful.  There are a lot of online resume sites, but this one seems to have some good stuff going.  If you prefer a different one, please let us know in the comments.

Any other advice for those that are job-hunting?  Share your tips in the comments.

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

View Mickey's Profile

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