How to get a job the “Web 2.0” way

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It wasn’t long ago that job searching meant circling interesting opportunities in the Sunday newspaper or dropping off a resumé by hand to a receptionist.

Now, with social networking evolving so rapidly, even traditional online job boards are struggling to keep up with the fast-changing way employees are getting hired. Candidates are no longer the only ones actively searching for jobs—employers are now hunting on the Internet to find top talent as well.

When I first started job hunting in 2008, my digital footprint didn’t extend much past my private Facebook account. I was being rejected by even low profile companies.

Personal branding myself online helped change the direction of my job hunt

Since December I haven’t applied for a single job. In fact, I’ve neither read any job advertisements nor shown much interest in searching for a job. But I have attended a few interviews with high profile companies, I’ve picked up a few contracts, I’ve been offered a few consulting positions and I recently accepted a full-time role with an international advertising agency.

So how exactly did I manage this? And how can you do the same? Well, the answer is relatively simple and doesn’t really involve much ‘luck’ either–just a bit of personal branding and online foot printing.

Think of yourself as a brand and define your niche

Rather than focusing on what you want to do, focus on what you already do or have done that is relevant to your ‘dream job.’

For example, companies contacted me not because I wanted to work in the digital space, but rather because I had social media skills. Defining what you do will help employers determine whether or not you have the skills they are looking for. Also remember to be clear and concise with your personal brand messaging—it should be apparent at first glance what it is that you do.

Treat yourself like a marketing campaign

I’m not suggesting that you put banner ads all over the web to promote yourself, but I do recommend using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to showcase your professional skills. Think about where your ‘target industry’ hangs out and make sure you are present there as well.

I have to admit, I haven’t personally been approached via Facebook, but I know it has worked for others. I can personally vouch for LinkedIn and Twitter being goldmines when it comes to attracting attention from companies. In fact, the job I recently accepted started on Twitter when I was contacted by one of my followers.

Complete your profiles and keep consistency between them

Without overloading your profiles with details of everything you have ever done, profiles should give more information than just the bare minimum.

Complete profiles will not only give employers more insight into your skill set than just a name or title, but they will also help you show up more frequently in search results. Consistencies between profiles will also help employers find you.

One company that contacted me told me they called because every time they did a search a different profile of mine showed up in the results.

Be searchable by trade

I’m going to take an educated and non-conceited guess that when the companies who contacted me did their searches, they weren’t searching me by name but rather specific keywords.

Do your homework in your industry and know what all the keywords that surround your dream job are. Once you have determined which industry specific keywords are used, scatter them around all of your profiles. Don’t change your title to something like Digital and Social Media Marketing Web 2.0 Internet Networker and Consultant if you’re aiming for a job in the digital space, but I recommend using the words interchangeably (within common use boundaries) for the sake of upping your chances of showing up in search results more frequently.

Don’t run off and start creating or strengthening your online profiles yet, however.

There are two things to you should know:

  1. It’s important to remember that although fancy images, a bit of clever branding and search engine optimization (SEO) work will almost certainly help employers navigate their way directly to your profiles, you should always be honest about your skills and experience. With so much information available on the web any lies of fabricated truths will be exposed almost immediately.
  2. As I mentioned before I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job when companies started contacting me – but this doesn’t mean I would recommend setting up your profiles and leaving them to work for you. If you are actively searching for employment then your digital footprint should compliment your job hunt rather than replace it.

With the way we use the web changing daily, there is no better time to get online and start building your personal brand. With millions of users performing searches and interacting every second, you never know what opportunities could be waiting to find you.

Photo credit: iJustine / Justine Ezarik by mil8 on Flickr
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About the author

Sophie Bifield is a social media consultant who has spent close to 5000 hours professionally (and a whole lot more personally) creating online communities. Aside from being addicted to everything social media and being able to speak fluent web slang, she is also a graduate of Queen's University's psychology program. When not immersed in cyber space, @sophiebifield spends her spare time fundraising and training to run a marathon for diabetes. Check out her blog here.