You Too Can Find a Job Online



Photo: ChiBart

Eric Barker

Last month, Eric Barker received his MBA. Unfortunately, he still lacked a job… So he hopped on Facebook and spent $50 on ads targeted at people who worked at Microsoft. As he describes it:

…it’s been wildly successful. My ad got over 50K impressions, over 500 clicks, and more than 20 people contacted me directly offering everything from a LinkedIn connection to the email addresses of recruiters to sending me the job description for specific roles in their division that they offered to submit my resume for.

Eric isn’t the only person receiving job offers through social media. Maia Bittner received job offers as a result of her activity on Brightkite, Twitter, and Yelp.

Brightkite is a social networking tool where users check-in at their current location and they can see people nearby:

I updated my status on Brightkite to indicate that I was at the DMV to register my car–apparently, sent up an alert system anytime someone checked in near them. They checked out my profile on Brightkite, saw my personal website, which includes my professional background, and sent me an e-mail saying, “Hey, can you come talk with us about a job?”

Then, last February, she tweeted, “Going to my last day of work at Spock.” A friend at Apple knew someone at Zecco who was looking to hire a community manager, and introduced them via Facebook. “We met up, but the job description wasn’t a good fit, so I passed.”

Finally, a few months ago, an entrepreneur trying to launch a competitor to the online review site Yelp ran across a bunch of reviews Maia had written about Boston restaurants. “He found my homepage via my Yelp profile, and contacted me asking if I’d be willing to write a bunch of reviews under contract.”

While Maia–who is currently involved in marketing at–might be an extreme case, more and more people are using online tools to find jobs.

LinkedIn, a professional version of Facebook that focuses on business networking, has experienced a surge of growth. Job searches on the site rose 51% in February over December, according to David Hahn, LinkedIn Corp.’s director of product management.

In other recessionary times, we have seen people lean on education and go back to school. This is the first major recession where you have a tool like LinkedIn and can use your professional network more effectively.

Detroit, home of the struggling auto industry, has been the site’s fastest-growing region for networkers, said Kay Luo, LinkedIn’s senior director of communication. And when Wall Street powerhouse Lehman Bros. fell apart last autumn, Lehman employees tripled their site activity on LinkedIn.

But even as more people are hitting the job boards, the number of good canditates hasn’t increased. Dirk Zondag Jr, a recruiting manager with the Elevate Recruiting Group, says:

We are seeing a lot more noise, in regards to resumes coming in, and people on the job boards. Last summer, from posting jobs, I would receive maybe 8 resumes a day from direct applications, and now may see upwards of 50 a day. The number of quality and relevant resumes seems to be the same however. For example, last summer, 8 resumes would give you 1-2 good, relevant people, where now, 50 resumes, may as well result in just 2 quality, relevant people.

In a great blog post titled, “Why hiring is paradoxically harder in a downturn,” Auren Hoffman wrote, “the amount of resumes from C-Players massively increases while the amount of resumes from A-Players probably remains the same.”

With all this noise, how can you be sure to stand out? According to Dirk, it’s all about consistently broadcasting yourself:

People can better utilize social networking by keeping constant, and keep updating. You need to be constantly ‘broadcasting’ your radio signal. LinkedIn even has a status update section much like a tweet.Now, if you put up just one, it may not get seen by the right person(s) in your network. If every other day, you are putting up something new, or the same thing in a different way, it’ll eventually get noticed. Same goes with Twitter and Facebook. Not only can recruiters find you on these networks, they can also contact you quickly without needing your e-mail address.

It certainly works. While researching this post, I ran across someone on Twitter looking to do some free-lance writing, and connected them with my editor. (Unfortunately, he didn’t have room for another writer.)

According to executive coach Doug Peterson, while being active on all these sites is good, it’s also important to have a focused message:

People come to me and say “I need a job.” They’re scared that focusing too tightly will close off potentially great opportunities. But the opposite is true. As you’re more specific on your job description, your network is more likely to suggest somebody who can help. They’re not being mean, they just don’t know how to help until you clarify, “This is what my ideal job looks like… can you suggest two people I should talk with?”

Is it really worth all the hassle to maintain an updated online presence? For Connie Bensen, who blogged about working remotely for Techrigy, it certainly is:
All of my jobs online have come to me thru social networking venues. Since November 2006, I’ve worked remotely from northern Minnesota, and my earning capacity online is double what is available locally. My message is that if I can do it, anyone can create their own opportunities.

Even if you expect your job leads to come through face-to-face interactions, expect people to research you on Google. It’s worth the time to keep adding people you know offline to your online networks–multiple times, I’ve had an acquaintance contact me and say, “Hey, I’m considering working with John Smith on a project. I looked him up on LinkedIn and saw that you know him… do you think he’d be a good fit for this position?” (Similarly, these online networks are an excellent way to research a hiring manager before an interview.)

As more people become comfortable using online tools to research jobs and potential hires, expect your professional network to become even more important. As I told a friend recently, “The internet doesn’t replace your reputation, it just accelerates it.”

Did you know? Mint is hiring…

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