I’m interrupting our series on employee engagement to let you know we’ve formed a new group on LinkedIn called Encore Careers.
We created the group to serve as a community for older workers to provide support and to share their experiences with age-related employment issues. We’ll also be sharing articles that will be of interest to older workers – and invite members to share as well.
We invite you to join our community at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8483842
If you’d like to post something on the Group Discussions, here are some guidelines to bear in mind:
- When you join, you’ll receive an email suggesting you post an introduction to yourself as a first step in making contacts with the community. It’s a great way to start a conversation.
- Share articles that relate to age-related employment issues. Articles about Retirement Planning are welcome.
- Articles about changing careers are always welcome. They’re helpful to people of all ages.
- If you have a question about employment issues, please feel free to post. Your peers can probably serve as a good sounding board or offer helpful advice.
- Please do not use the discussions to advertise or make sales pitches.
Membership is free, so please do not hesitate to join our community!
Our last post dealt with techniques for increasing awareness about you in your job search.
Here are two things you MUST do.
Ensure you have a complete LinkedIn Profile
According to LinkedIn, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. Here are some other facts about LinkedIn:
- Photo. People with a photo in their profile receive 14 times the profile views of those who don’t.
- Volunteering. 42% of employers say they view volunteer experience as equivalent to formal work experience.
- Industry. Specifying the industry you work in generates 15 times the profile views vs. someone who doesn’t.
- Education. You’ll get 10 times the profile views of someone who does not include any details about education.
- Skills. People hire for skills. Skills in a profile increase your profile views 13 times.
Basically what you are doing by completing your profile is providing facts about you that could serve as reasons for further consideration. Apply the same principles to other social media sites you belong to to maximize the impact: LinkedIn isn’t the only tool used by recruiters or hiring managers.
Participate in LinkedIn Groups
It’s not enough just to join groups on LinkedIn to increase your visibility.
To persuade fellow group members to be interested in you requires some degree of participation in the group’s activities.
When you see an article that might be of interest to members of one of the groups you belong to, use the LinkedIn share button on the online version of the article. This will bring up a box that will allow you to do two things: post an update and secondly, you can share the article with selected groups.
Doing the update indicates you’re active on LinkedIn. You should add a few comments about why the article is of interest to group members.
Similarly, for the groups’ discussions, get involved. If you see a discussion on a topic you’re passionate about, offer up some comments and develop a dialogue with fellow group members. You may make some new connections this way. There’s a bar chart that indicates your degree of participation in the group. Try to become a key influencer in the group.
Whereas a complete profile on LinkedIn provides facts about you, participation in the groups provides some insights into how you think (and write) and this can significantly step up a hiring manager’s interest in looking at you as a potential candidate. Active group participants receive 5 times the profile views of people who don’t participate.
There are plenty of other things you can do to cultivate interest, but these two are so central to the process we wanted to focus on them. We’ll follow up with some other tips for cultivating interest in future posts. Stay tuned!
We said it before: when you are in transition you need to know how to sell yourself to land that next opportunity.
If you’re in a sales or marketing role, you probably have a good idea how to proceed. But, if your background is in some other field, you may not fully realize the steps required to find a new employer and close the deal.
One of the simplest models for advertising or selling is called AIDA – an acronym for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. It’s not the only model for the sales process, but it’s intuitive and easier to understand than the others.
We’re going to focus today on the first part – awareness.
To the right you’ll see a magazine ad from 1958 that was run by McGraw-Hill Magazines. It shows someone – presumably a purchasing manager – who is trying to understand why he should buy what you’re selling.
He’s saying, “I don’t know who you are”, “I don’t know your company”, “I don’t know your company’s reputation”. The ad may be old, but the message hasn’t changed.
The message is that, unless someone knows about you, they can’t develop any reasons why they should do business with you. You have to build awareness of yourself.
So, as a job seeker, what can you do to help potential hiring managers aware of you?
Social Media Presence
One place you can start is by ensuring you have a profile on the primary social media sites that employers and recruiters search to find potential hires.
Here are what are considered to be the Top 5:
ZoomInfo creates profiles by extracting data about people from public sites. Unlike the other platforms, you need to CLAIM your profile to take ownership over it. Go into ZoomInfo and search for your name to see if a profile exists that looks like it could be you. You’ll find an option to claim the profile by setting up an account and password.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY
Just having a presence on one of these sites is not sufficient for someone to find you easily. You need to be an active participant.
LinkedIn has literally thousands of special-interest groups you can join. Your regular LinkedIn membership allows you to join up to 50 groups. Choose ones that are relevant to your industry, your profession or others that just are of interest to you. Many groups have job postings and/or job discussions, so it’s one way for you to become aware of employment opportunities.
You also can increase your awareness within these groups by participating in the discussions. Clicking on a “Like” icon is a start, but not very effective by itself. It’s more important to start discussions or add comments to discussions posted by other group members.
TRADE SHOWS and CONFERENCES
Most professions have some kind of conference program and most industries have trade shows. You probably attended these while you were employed.
It’s important to continue this kind of activity – especially if you are in some kind of leadership role. Conferences and Trade Shows also provide networking opportunities and attending allows you to inform people you meet about your search for a new position – which brings us to our last suggestion.
NETWORKING GROUPS and EVENTS
Try to identify networking groups for your industry and/or profession and join them. Sometimes, these can be events put on by a professional association. Sometimes they’re related to alumni from your college or university.
Try to supplement these by finding groups that have diverse membership, and so you are not networking with potential competitors for the kind of role you are seeking.
The important thing about networking is that, as you expand your network, the number of potential contacts within your network grows exponentially. This is why networking is considered the most important job search activity of all.
Being More Creative
We’re going to show you some examples of good business card designs to help you visualize how they could be done. We’ll discuss each card to make it clearer to understand what we like and what makes it effective.
Gordon’s card has lots of white space, which makes it inviting to read. The bar on the left side serves as a visual anchor to draw the reader’s eyes back to the beginning of each line.
On his card, Gordon’s name is bold, clear and at the top. He’s added that he holds an MBA, which should elevate him in the eyes of potential employers.
Just below his name, he states his professional role – International Business Development Executive.
He’s used a simple graphic device (the arrow) that suggests growth, which is how he contributes to his employers.
Below the graphic device are a series of attributes. “Building Teams” shows leadership. “Inspiring Excellence” suggests engagement. “Generating Results” show bottom line orientation as well as success.
At the bottom, Gordon has his contact information – physical location as well as his email address.
About the only thing we see missing is his LinkedIn profile.
Now, let’s take a look at my own card.
I took three different stock photos and combined and manipulated them to have the image of an open door. The image fades to the left so the text doesn’t have to fight with the graphic elements so much.
Apart from that, you’ll see similar treatment to Gordon Drake’s card: the name is dominant, I added my professional designation and MBA, contact information is complete.
You’ll see I added my LinkedIn profile, which I personalized, so people can easily find my profile on LinkedIn.
On the reverse side, I incorporated two QR codes. One is a link to my LinkedIn profile; the other is a link to my VideoBIO.
I added the QR codes for a couple of reasons. First, QR codes signify a comfort level with new technologies. In the case of the VideoBIO code, it enables a link to a video that someone can view on a smartphone or other device, so it dramatically expands the amount of information about me that can be carried on the card. The LinkedIn QR code allows someone to view my profile to learn more about my background – again more information than the card was originally intended to carry. Lastly, not many cards have QR codes on them, so it helps my card stand out from all the others.
The last example is from another fictitious person, John Smith.
The red and black graphic device at the bottom of the card is visually stimulating. John has cleverly tied his name to the visual theme by using the red for his first name and the black for his second name.
He’s positioned himself as a “marketing expert” just below his name. In the sidebar to the right of his name, he’s even listed his specialties, where he also has phone and email addresses. There’s also a link to his personal website.
You’ll note there’s no mailing address or LinkedIn profile shown. He could do this on the back panel, if he wanted. However, I also chose this to illustrate how a female job seeker could have a striking business card without disclosing a home address.
Why We Need Business Cards
One thing I find especially frustrating at networking meetings is when people have no business cards.
For those of us who are older, not having a business card makes it harder for us to remember a person’s name or other details.
Some people complain that it’s expensive to get them. It’s not. You can get business cards for under $30. You can even design and print off your own cards at home for under $30.
Others complain they can’t afford a designer to do their cards. Many printers have templates you can use that have 4-color professionally-created designs and offer these free in return for your business. Even Microsoft Office has free business card templates you can use.
Here’s why you should have business cards with you at any event you attend.
Clarity. Business cards carry your contact information in a small, easy-to carry format that anyone can use.
Relationship building. After shaking hands, the exchange of business cards is a signal of interest in continuing a relationship. In effect, you are sharing your personal contact information with someone else. It also makes it easier for the other party to follow up with you at a later date because they have your contact information – and in an easy-to-read format.
Image. The design and materials used in making your business card convey messages about who you are and what you stand for. A cheap-looking business card on poor quality stock can make you or your company look untrustworthy. A heavier card stock feels more substantial, and can suggest you pay attention to the details.
Promotion. Business cards can tell someone what type of business you are or what kind of profession you belong to. One rule in networking is to let people know what you do and what you are looking for. Without that information they will have a hard time helping you.
Memory Aid. When you hand someone your business card it can help them remember your name and/or business. They can write notes on it for future follow up. By giving them your card, you’ve made it easy for them to work with you.
TIP: When you receive someone’s business card and you wish to make a note, write what you can do for that person. It helps keep you in a “giving” frame of mind, always a factor for successful networking.
Business Cards for Job-Seekers
As soon as you find yourself in transition, no matter what your previous profession, you are in sales – selling yourself to prospective employers. A business card is one of the most important marketing tools you will ever create to support your job search.
The business card identifies who you are, what you do and how to contact you to help networking contacts understand how they can help you.
As a part of your personal brand image, your business card should make you memorable, distinctive and professional.
Our next post will describe the essential components of a good business card and provide some design suggestions.