Even Conan can’t keep his job, although I am sure many of us would welcome a multi-million dollar payout as he got last week. But as our economy tries to re-start itself, I have seen first-hand how hard it is for people to get new jobs. Over the past seven months, I have been working with our local Regional Chamber and Growth Association in an effort called the St. Louis Job Angels, to help get information about new jobs quickly disseminated to the right people, and also provide self-help and peer networking to job seekers.
The effort was started nationally by consultant Mark Stelzner and has since become very successful here in St. Louis. We have more than 600 people on our LinkedIn group and a new job is posted almost daily. We also send out the postings via Twitter too, although trying to fit an entire job description into 100 or so characters is a challenge. Based on these efforts, I have some advice for employers and job seekers that I want to share.
First off, if you are going to post your opening online, make sure your Web jobs board is both search and Twitter-friendly. Try to have unique and simple URLs that people can email and Tweet to bring job seekers directly to the position at hand. Put all the information about the job on one page, including salary range, prerequisites, and reasonable experiences and skills required. Include a job number or some other identifying string that job applicants can use and reTweet so that others can quickly find the opening. And be specific about how to be contacted and with what information.
You would be surprised (well, maybe not) how many job openings I look at that don’t have this basic information. This isn’t rocket science (and we do have a few openings here in St. Louis for rocket scientists, believe me) and you would think that Al Gore still hasn’t gotten around to inventing the Internet, what with some of the postings that I see.
Some online job boards that are part of individual companies are behind registration walls, so you have to provide all sorts of information about yourself before you can get to see the actual jobs themselves. Bad idea! You want people to browse your board, because they might see something else that they are more qualified or more interested in.
There is a reason not to skimp on descriptions. The more information you can provide the job seeker, the better and more of a match your applicants will be when it comes time to apply.
The unique URL per job makes it easier to reTweet the openings: you use a URL shortening service such as Bit.ly and you can send out the job post quickly without having to worry that Twitter will mangle the URL or that users won’t be able to find it on the Internet someplace.
Some recruiters are told not to divulge the company name for fear that the company will be buried in resumes. Fair enough. But then provide more detail about the job so that applicants can understand what they are getting themselves into.
Also, be fair about telecommuting options. It is time to realize that many of us want to stay put for various reasons. If your management can deal with finding the best candidate in another city, then support this practice. I mean, we are in 2010, people!
Second, spend some time on LinkedIn. Yes, there are still plenty of places where you can post job openings, including Monster, Craigslist, and hundreds of other more specialized sites. And yes, employers should be promiscuous and post openings widely too. But the right use of LinkedIn by both employers and job seekers can be useful.
I keep adjusting my online LinkedIn profile all the time, even though I have had it for many years. I keep forgetting to add particular experiences, or to ask for references from previous bosses. So don’t try to create your entire profile in one sitting, but come back to it frequently. I have some more tips on how to improve your LinkedIn presence here if you want to view my slides.
Most of the people I know are still new at using this service, and some are unaware about the more advanced features such as Groups and Answers that can help augment your job searching and make the service more valuable too. Answers can help build your expertise and demonstrate your knowledge of a topic or niche. Groups can be used, as we do for St. Louis Job Angels group, how to find others who share similar traits and can be quickly scanned for updated information.
LinkedIn can be both a blessing and a curse. Getting groups setup is a slow process, and you have to follow an arcane series of rules if you want to play in their sandbox: for example, as group Admin, I can send out exactly no more than one weekly email to the group. I try not to bury people in emails, but still, sometimes you want to get the word out if we have had a lot of postings or some with very short response times.
Third, become better at marketing yourself. One of my colleagues here and the supervisor of the MissouriCareerSource local office, Frank Alaniz, talks about how to develop a resume that will present your qualifications in a way that a job interviewer or HR screener can quickly see you online. Most employers spend less than three minutes reviewing resumes, which means you have to grab them at hello.
Good luck with your own job search, and maybe you too can host a late-night show in the near future.