In a job market crowded with talented and creative candidates, it can be incredibly difficult for job seekers to differentiate themselves. The good news is that there are many useful and effective tools available at a job hunters’ disposal that can help either to maximize the efficiency of a search and/or to stand out from the crowd and catch the attention of prospective employers. I covered this a bit in my 6 Social Media Tools for Job Seekers post from last summer.
The key to successful implementation of these tools is figuring out how to best leverage them to help overcome the many obstacles blocking the road to employment. I highlighted a few of my favorite creative job search efforts in a post last spring. I’ve tried to adopt a similarly innovative approach to own job hunting strategy.
I thought I’d share a few of the unconventional things I’ve put into action to help tackle the challenges faced by job seekers along with a bit of the rationale behind them. Stick around until the end of the post for an announcement about the latest idea I’ve introduced.
I created this site for three primary reasons:
1. It enables the reader to have a much more holistic view of who I am (both personally & professionally) than a resume ever could. It is significantly more dynamic and attention-grabbing than a static resume, not to mention more representative of who I am as a job candidate and what I bring to the table.
2. Perhaps equally important, it simplifies the process of friends and colleagues referring me to their connections. We’ve all had to make virtual introductions before and the most difficult part of the process is composing the description of the person you’re introducing and/or asking them for the key points they’d like you to highlight. Providing a URL for people to pass along can make a potentially cumbersome process fairly turnkey. This is true both in the case of people wishing to introduce you to a specific person via email or to the masses through social media, as shown here:
3. Many of the interactions I have are via social media channels where brevity is important, especially on Twitter where I have a max of 140 characters available to me in a given tweet. Instead of trying to explain my entire background, I can compose a message & close with something along the lines of “My story: http://HireDaveCutler.com” (all the better if you customize a shortened URL, i.e., http://bit.ly/HireDC).
“Dave Cutler’s Job Search” Foursquare venue
Admittedly, this was a bit of a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” example. That being said, I was seeking to accomplish a couple of things with the creation of this venue and my subsequent check-ins to it.
1. Because my outgoing social media messages aren’t predominantly about my current employment status or search, many people to whom I’m connected on various channels are unaware that I’m looking for work. Checking in to this venue serves as a gentle reminder and is more likely to be seen on Foursquare than, for instance, a single tweet on Twitter where people tend to be more inundated with incoming messages. I’ve encountered a few people who had been following me on Twitter for an extended period, but were unaware that I was looking for work until seeing me check-in to this venue.
2. Helping to keep myself top of mind with my network when opportunities arise in a less obtrusive fashion than regularly tweeting about my search.
One unexpected benefit of creating this venue was that a few friends showed their support by checking in themselves. By doing so they shared the venue and, by default, my search with their network as well. Since I left a “tip” at the venue, anyone I’m connected to on Foursquare that checks in receives a message from me on their screen, as noted in the following tweet from Eric Andersen (and shown in the TwitPic link):
One facet of my search strategy that I’ve emphasized significantly is content creation. The same basic principles of inbound marketing that apply for a business hold true for an individual. Blogging, tweeting (especially live tweeting), and sharing photos and videos can boost a person’s profile, raise awareness, improve their search rankings and establish them as a thought leader. Also not to be overlooked is the value of content curation (assuming you’re sharing quality material). I’ve made a concerted effort to be a reliable source for content related to marketing and social media (among other interesting topics). Those efforts have been validated by tweets like this:
I’ve doggedly pursued opportunities to write guest posts and conduct interviews. You might be saying that this all sounds rather straightforward and conventional (at least in the digital age). However, although the benefits of the approach outlined above are undeniable, I’ve discovered that sometimes creating and engaging with other people’s non-traditional content can be more attention-grabbing and lead to more in-depth interactions. For example, when asked to provide a video to a forum managed by a friend on a day when I was home with an under the weather 2 year-old, I coaxed him into making his comedic debut in social media, as noted below.
The video led to conversations with folks I wouldn’t have otherwise met. The moral of the story? Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. You never know what interaction will be the one that results in an employment opportunity.
The Dave Cutler App
My latest idea came about after meeting with the Co-Founder of a startup called AppGuppy, which I profiled in the inaugural episode of my new interview series, entitled “Sitdowns With Startups.”
The app serves as an excellent way to aggregate the various forms of content I’m producing. For friends and colleagues interested in following my latest updates, the app is one-stop shopping for a quick glance at my tweets, blog posts and videos. A prospective employer or new contact can view the same things as well as use the “Links” tab to easily navigate over to my other profiles and sites.
I’m not naive (or self-absorbed) enough to think that people are clamoring for a Dave Cutler app, but it’s yet another way to demonstrate creativity and might be enough of a novelty to pique the interest of someone who might otherwise only glean the information about me that a resume can provide.
If you’re curious about the app and you’d like to download and/or install it, you can do so by visiting http://DaveCutlerApp.com on your smartphone or mobile device, or by scanning the following QR code if you’re reading this on a desktop or laptop:
I would caution against thinking that the use of these methods serves as a replacement for in-person, face-to-face interactions. The two serve as a compliment to each other. For example, live tweeting at a conference (or even following the hashtag) can alleviate some of the awkwardness inherent in the interactions during networking breaks. Recognizing someone from their Twitter profile picture or knowing a comment they made regarding a session you’ve attended can significantly ease the process of introducing yourself and beginning a conversation (all the better if they recognize you and/or remember a tweet you sent).
Do you know of examples of people using social media creatively in their job search? Please share them with me below in the comments. Thanks!