02 May 2011
Every time I speak with candidates, I always ask them about their LinkedIn activity. If you are an active job seeker, selling yourself via social networking is a critical element of your job search campaign. You must be proactive and you must be visible. There’s a lot of competition out there, and effectively separating yourself from your peers is what will ultimately make the difference in the success of your search. You are essentially a product that needs to be sold. Ask yourself: “What makes me better than other, similar products that are being considered?”
Being an avid user of LinkedIn myself, I’ve learned a lot… and continue to learn. And I have a reason to believe in its power, considering I’ve landed my last three jobs due to connections I’ve made (and relationships I’ve built) on LinkedIn. The following is a list of what I feel are some of the most important aspects of LinkedIn – a “cheat sheet” for job seekers if you will. This is based on what I’ve taught myself, as well as tips I’ve learned from LinkedIn/social networking gurus, Neil Schaffer and Lewis Howes (who have both written excellent books on the subject – and are both people you should be linked to).
- Make sure that your profile is 100% complete (and make sure to add specific keywords and skills into your summary). This greatly increases your visibility. Similar to Google analytics, you will show up higher on the list in search results.
- Make a point to get grow your direct network to100 people or more. Connect with LinkedIn’s most “linked” users. You can find them here: http://www.toplinked.com/toplinked.aspx. Most have contact information either at the top or bottom of their profiles.
- Use a photo of yourself… smiling. Users are more likely to connect with you… as it’s more welcoming :)
- Update your status regularly. It shows that you are active!
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who you don’t know (we are living in a “pay-it-forward” society, and this is what social networking is all about).
Once you’ve done this, here are some Intermediate Tips:
- Join relevant LinkedIn groups. Think about starting your own group (I started one called Texas Interactive, which now has close to 700 members). Get active in your niche! Also, the more groups you’re in, the better. And… if you don’t have an individual’s email address, but share a group with him/her, you can connect that way.
- Become an “open networker.” Join groups such as LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) and TopLinked. Get into the habit of accepting everyone’s request to expand your 1st degree network… which will ultimately expand your 2nd and 3rd degree network. And don’t stay in a “box” – expand to new individuals who don’t yet know what you have to offer!
- Participate in group conversations. Represent yourself as someone who is knowledgeable in the subject matter by providing valuable content. If you have a question about something, utilize LinkedIn Answers (http://www.linkedin.com/answers/). Whatever your query, there are plenty of industry professionals out there who are happy to assist you (going back to the pay-it-forward statement).
- Write recommendations for others. The more recommendations you have, the better. If you give a lot of value, you will receive a lot (according to the ‘rule of reciprocity’).
- Utilize LinkedIn’s “Advanced” search option. This gives you the ability to narrow down your search; locating members based on things like keywords, geographic location, company/school, industry, etc. Advanced search also supports “Boolean strings,” which allow you to narrow (or broaden) your search in a very specific—effective—manner. Learning how to use Boolean operators and formulate strings is not as complicated as it might sound, and there are many sites/tutorials that can assist you with this. I personally like http://www.internettutorials.net/boolean.asp.
- Use LinkedIn as a cross-referencing tool. For instance… if you apply to a job online (and know the name of the company), you can often times locate the hiring manager on LinkedIn — or at least locate someone who can get you to the right person. This can be an effective tactic for getting past gatekeepers.
09 November 2010
I’ve just returned from a managers meeting at our corporate HQ. While there, we covered lots of the topics expected - sales, management, hiring, best practices, how to grow and mentor a team etc. But one of the most surprising topics covered was - vacations.
I am one of those managers who is guilty of putting off vacation time until the end of the year and then not being able to use it. l do like folks that put in tons of hours and are fully engaged in their roles at work. But also I have also seen the effects of burn-out. I have learned over time - that taking time off is, in fact, an important element in keeping employees performing at their best. So I thought I would share the research finding I received from our communications team.
If you’ve been handing out an unspoken pat on the back to employees that work more than 40 hours each week and rarely take vacation, you’re likely not alone. According to the American Workplace Insights survey conducted by Harris Interactive:
It’s time to rethink your strategy. All work and no play may or may not lead to dull employees, but it will directly and negatively impact your bottom line. The following are a list of eight reasons to encourage your employees’ regular use of paid vacation:
Put a cap on accrued vacation payables. When an employee’s unused vacation time is allowed to accrue for an extended period of time, employers are left holding the bag if that employee leaves the company or suddenly decides to take many weeks at one time. A “use-it-or-lose-it” policy encourages employees to use their earned vacation time within the calendar year, and protects your balance sheet from an unlimited or unexpected payout.
Rested workers result in reduced premiums. The hallmarks of workaholism include fatigue, poor health, and stress, all of which lead to an increase in worker’s compensation and health insurance costs. Keep your employees healthier and safer while minimizing the premiums you pay, by enforcing necessary breaks in engagement and regular time off.
Increase output with higher productivity and accuracy levels. Studies have shown that productive, successful employees are those who take vacation and occasional time off to relax, rejuvenate and refresh. Upon return from vacation, their renewed sense of drive and determination can provide both short-term and long-term boosts in productivity. Additionally, the necessary rest and replenishment will help them avoid costly mistakes, which overworked employees are more apt to make.
Employees that get away are more likely to stick around. When you consider the total cost of recruiting, hiring and training new employees, turnover expenses can be devastating. Help improve employee morale when you facilitate, and even encourage, employee retention through the use of vacation time and an environment that supports employee-centered work hours.
A change of scenery promotes ingenuity. Hum-drum routine rarely leads to inspired thinking. When on vacation, we often find ourselves in a new environment, and going through different routines. By being forced to behave and think differently for a period of time, we gain fresh perspective, creative inspiration, and new ideas. It is impossible to put a dollar value on the innovation and ingenuity that will result for your company when you encourage your employees to take vacation as a sabbatical.
Happy employees minimize risk and adversity. The ever-elusive office culture – you tout it to recruits, but do you really understand its value? Overworked employees are cranky employees, and are often the cause of infighting as well as office politics. They are more likely to berate their boss, resent coworkers that don’t work as hard as they do, and even resent the job itself. Your entire office, and its work product, suffers the effects of an overworked employee. You can prevent unnecessary crankiness on your team by simply making it clear that working long hours and foregoing vacation are not the way to get ahead.
Reduce unplanned outages. Overworked employees may take fewer vacation days off, but the tradeoff is that they likely will require more sick days. Additionally, if your employees are nervous about how you will react to their vacation request, they will be more likely to procrastinate – leaving little time for a back-up plan – or even play hooky. Conversely, employees who feel open to use their vacation time at their discretion will more proactively plan for their outages and have fewer sick days. Foster an environment that supports your employees’ efforts to balance work and their personal lives through paid time off, and the result will be loyal employees that won’t leave you hanging.
Detect and deter fraud by interrupting individual controls. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ (ACFE) 2010 Report to the Nations, a typical organization will lose 5% of its annual revenue to occupational fraud and abuse. Fraudulent behavior often requires complete control over an activity by one or more persons to cover up the paper trail, and is difficult to maintain while out of the office for a week or more. In fact, refusal to take vacation was one of the key red flag behaviors identified by the ACFE in their study. While the reality of these statistics is unpleasant, companies must acknowledge the need for a required vacation policy to help detect, and ideally deter, any existing or potential fraudulent behavior.
31 August 2010
We have the pleasure of welcoming our newest addition to the Paladin Team and the new voice of Paladin - Cindy-Lee Pijoos. Cindy is taking over my role as Recruitment Coordinator. She will be the point person for our working Associates and initial inquiries from Candidates and Clients.
Cindy’s story about finding Paladin is a classic case study for how social networking can help you find a job. Recruiters, mentors, bloggers, and even Forbes continuously buzz about personal branding and networking through online communities to find a job. After reviewing Paladin’s postings online, she contacted me through a direct message on Twitter. Her social media savvy gained her an interview, and her experience and professionalism won her the role.
Cindy graduated with an integrated marketing communications degree in PR. She comes to us originally from Cape Town, South Africa and has lived in various cities before settling in Chicago. She thoroughly enjoys volunteering, cooking, and networking - so be sure to introduce yourself at the next event.
As we welcome Cindy as the new face and voice of Paladin, I am personally taking the next step in my career. I have recently accepted a position in social media, which will be a new challenge I am very excited to take on. My passion for interactive, online marketing has spooled through my experience at Paladin. I am happy to have had a chance to hone my social media experience in my Paladin role and look forward to staying a part of the extended Paladin family!
03 June 2010
We are happy to announce a few new enhancements to the Paladin web site! After weeks of brainstorming, mock-ups, and opinion-gathering, the new Paladin splash page has features that will appeal to job seekers and employers alike. Needless to say, we want our viewers to have a successful web experience. We understand the importance of a user-friendly environment – and the ability to locate specific elements without having to go two or three layers deep.
To begin with, the site has a cleaner all-around feel. The softer image of pastel-colored pencils replaces the harder image of the three solid-colored category boxes. As the eyes shift from left to right on the page, the viewer immediately sees “How can Paladin help you?” They have one of three options to click on that are highlighted during scroll-over: One for employers, one for job seekers, and one for our associates.
Heading back to the left side of the page (under the pencils image), the viewer sees a simple, straightforward paragraph on what we do, who we work with, how we operate, and why we’re different from the rest. Directly to the right is a Job Search column that allows the job seeker to search via keyword entry, or by selecting the geographic location or job category. Adjacent to this column is the Available Jobs section, which gives job seekers direct access to immediate openings. The last column to the right features thumbnail images of our talent Portfolios. A potential employer can easily click on an image that will take them directly to an imbedded version of that individual’s portfolio.
The top and bottom tabs of the page have remained the same, to comply with traditional professional home page standards. The social media directory is clearly noticeable as well.
In summary, Paladin’s home page is now easier to navigate than the previous version, allowing you to find what you’re looking for in a much shorter period of time.