Having recently been propelled back into the real world as a mature university graduate, I wanted to share my job hunting experience with you to its eventual victory finding a position via LinkedIn here at ThoughtShift.
I jumped careers on a monthly basis through my twenties landing jobs that ranged from a legal secretary and finance PA to parading around Hamley’s Toy Store as a hippo. This was a time when getting a job was much easier – clearly and don’t knock the Hamley’s job, I turned on the Christmas lights with Will Young don’t you know. Post hippo, I landed a position as a Commercial Recruitment Consultant in 2008 when the recruitment industry was still a candidate led market and businesses knew that good candidates were difficult to find. If you hadn’t noticed already, things have changed. Finding a job in the current climate is like entering a war zone of equally talented soldiers all fighting for their lives and climbing over each other to get into the firing line and get noticed.
What to Expect
Employers are now sifting through the mass of great candidates looking for the one that is exceptional and according to recruitmentbuzz.co.uk there has been an increased use of professional networks like LinkedIn to source good candidates. Meanwhile, candidates are desperately reaching for any job that will interview them and competing against hundreds of job seekers. A major survey found that students will apply for 427,000 jobs by the end of this year, compared with just 244,000 in 2008. Just getting an interview is hard enough but there are now also a lot more task based interviews. I recently was expected to design a full email campaign and a website page using html and css just at the interview stage. From a cycle that used to take weeks, employers are now taking at least a month to select the right candidate. Since the recession hit in 2009 employers continue to tighten their budgets, which means that job seekers are going to have to work a lot harder than they used to, to be worth the money. “But how?” I hear you cry…
Market Yourself on LinkedIn
If you want to get the right job you need to learn to market yourself well and LinkedIn is a good place to start. Once you have completed the basic steps to create your LinkedIn profile there is a lot more you can do to raise your online profile…
1. Create a blog
Using a platform like WordPress, Tumblr or wix.com to create a blog that you can use either simply to share your thoughts on something you are passionate about or to house examples of your work. Share your blog on LinkedIn and post updates when you publish new blog posts. Here is my blog www.jenthered.co.uk as an example.
2. Get Recommendations
Having a good reference freely available for prospective employers to read is a fantastic way to get their attention but don’t just send the invite via LinkedIn, speak to your previous employer or university lecturers and ask them if they are happy to recommend you.
3. Add Links & Files
LinkedIn has a nifty little option to add a file or link to each position on your profile. Having examples of your work attached or linked to the position helps to communicate the job role and your range of skills. Here is a screenshot example from my profile:
4. Write and Share
To get the best results you need to write engaging updates linking to your blog and sharing other relevant updates. Be valuable and prove that you are passionate about the business you want to work in.
Connect with Relevant People
I was looking for a digital marketing job in Brighton so I searched and connected with any business owners of digital marketing agencies. LinkedIn can be restrictive but if you connect using the mobile phone app it doesn’t make you verify your association, which is very useful. In addition, every time I applied for a job I found the contact I emailed with my application and connected to them on LinkedIn, I was then able to use their email to help verify the invitation.
Once you are happy with your profile and have plenty of relevant connections send out a group email to them introducing yourself with a good short paragraph on your experience, strengths, skills and availability for work. This is exactly how I got the interview with ThoughtShift. After sending this message one of the owners got back to me recommending I applied for a position and several others expressed interest in me as a prospective candidate.
Be Creative and Confident…
Even if you are not looking for work in digital marketing, the expectations for digital savvy candidates is still high. When recruiting, employers are becoming more interested in candidates that are able to think ‘creatively’ and have the confidence to work on their own initiative. The smaller companies in particular are looking for all-rounders. With tighter budgets companies are having to consolidate job roles to include a wider range of tasks. Making a portfolio of your work available on your LinkedIn profile will demonstrate your creativity and confidence.
There is Still Hope
Although the recruitment industry has become tougher for candidates, if you are proactive online you can be ahead of the game. I did six interviews when I relocated to Brighton and got offered jobs from four of them and I can confidently tell you that it was my proactive online presence that got their attention. Showcasing yourself well online will help you stand out to employers eager to hire digital savvy candidates. If you put the time and energy into developing your skills and are able to present them well on your LinkedIn profile then you will, like the 90s release from Aswad proclaims, shine, shine like a star!
Good luck, I hope you found that useful. Follow my contributions to the blog to find out more about digital marketing or sign up to the ThoughtShift Guest List, our monthly email, to keep up-to-date on all our blog posts, guides and events.