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I Got Branded with LinkedIn

There was a time when you worked at a company your entire career. You may have changed departments or been promoted to management and those changes were due to your work being observed daily and in-person. Accomplishments were chronicled in your human resource file and your co-workers and bosses knew who you were and your contributions to the success of the company. Social media was not even a thing.

Fast forward to today and the digital age where that in-person interview for a new position may not ever happen unless you are using the right keywords when applying online with that pesky automated HR system. You get lucky and someone takes notice, but before they give you a call or send an email, they are going to Google search you. What comes back is a LinkedIn and Facebook profile.

It is likely they will look at your LinkedIn profile first to try to figure out who you are beyond the online application. What is your brand? Who are you professionally? What is your story? Potential employers will look at your Facebook profile for clues as to who you are socially outside of work. I think of the differences between LinkedIn and Facebook this way – if I want to know where an old co-worker is working now, I use LinkedIn. If I want to find out if that same co-worker is married and has kids, I use Facebook.

LinkedIn has been around longer than Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and hosts more than 500 million professional profiles with an unlimited supply of network connections and job opportunities (Gould, 2019). While Facebook is designed to connect with family and friends, LinkedIn at its core is a professional networking platform that was created originally for corporate recruitment. LinkedIn is an important part of being a full-fledged professional and with a unique online profile, or brand, it is a place to tell companies why they should hire you and pay you those six figures.

Branding is no longer limited to cereal or running shoes. It is not enough just to have an online profile but is equally important to build a professional brand that helps you stand-out from others in the same industry. It is identifying positions that need someone with your background. It is building your online reputation to stand out from the crowd and being remembered by managers, peers, and customers (Kohler, 2019). Personal branding can help you land that job you always wanted by creating a LinkedIn profile.

Another job hunt benefit of LinkedIn is that it offers a robust open-position board where you can search for postings by keywords and locations. I use the job alert function for instructional designer positions to receive regular email updates when there are new job postings. Another feature I love is the “I’m interested” button to let recruiters know I am open to new opportunities with regular updates telling me when someone has viewed my profile. Right now I am not getting a ton of profile hits but I am not taking that personally, yet.

Ever Google yourself? I just did and guess what was at the top of the list? That’s right, my LinkedIn profile. Google loves LinkedIn since it is a well-known and powerful network like itself. It will rank higher than your personal website so if you do not have a LinkedIn profile, it doesn’t cost a dime to get started other than your time with benefits that far outweigh just having a Facebook profile.

References

Gould, R. (2019, August 14). LinkedIn vs. Facebook: Which Is Best for Business? Retrieved from HubSpot: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/linkedin-vs-facebook

Kohler, C. (2019). Why LinkedIn is Important: 7 Reasons to Polish Your Profile Today. Retrieved from TopResume: https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/why-linkedin-is-important

To Tweet or not to Tweet, that is a Professional Question

I confess I do not have a Twitter account and have never felt a burning desire to create one. I barely have time for Facebook and only for reading posts from friends and family. I am not one who has 300 Facebook friends because I literally do not have 300 friends. No judgment here if you are one of those lucky people who do have hundreds of online friends or connections, I am just a late-bloomer in the world of social networking. I never gave it much thought about how social networks can advance one’s career until I decided to change careers.

It is no longer a question of whether professionally to have a social network account, it is expected. Today to compete in the job market having a social media presence is just as important as having a polished resume and portfolio. It can be overwhelming getting started with building a social profile since there are several solid choices out there such as LinkedIn and Facebook. For me, LinkedIn was a logical choice but I felt I owed it to my professional self to see why Twitter is so popular in the business world.

Twitter makes it easy to find people where they are, and unlike Facebook and LinkedIn where conversations are between friends or connections, Twitter has an open nature mentality which means all posts are public. Invitations to join discussions are not required and it is expected that people jump right into a conversation. Want to see what others are talking about relative to your industry? No problem. Twitter’s reach is far and wide and users have opportunities to build relationships with a diverse audience of like-minded individuals in real-time (Badshah, 2017).

Twitter is also a great way for professionals to connect with industry influencers and maybe even become an influencer by sharing your thoughts on topics you care about. Twitter gets you in front of decision-makers and industry leaders who can help promote your career and help you build a following with just a retweet. But Twitter is not everyone’s cup of tea, and like other social media platforms, it requires a determined focus to grow and nurture one’s online brand and industry connections.

There are other social networks for professionals beyond Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn but are they worth consideration? A professional presence on the big three certainly can reach a huge audience and your exposure can be vast. But with a massive number of users, there is also a risk that you will be overlooked professionally. Maybe you are looking for a social network that is a bit more intimate but not sure if the social network is right for you. Look for a social network that can bring attention to your work, connect with users in meaningful ways, and be able to share and discover new ideas and trends (Sreenivasan). Based on those tips, I think it is worth a look at Slack.

Full disclosure I am a huge fan of Slack. As a communication tool, it has been a lifesaver in many different settings, from the work environment to the university, but I often wondered whether Slack had more to offer beyond workplace collaboration (Bishop, 2019). I was pleasantly surprised that Slack also offers public threads and communities from big data to finance with a wide variety of group sizes. There is a lot to choose from and something for everyone with over 1000 communities which continues to grow. Slack may be the social network that offers you that personal touch that you have been looking for and worth the time to explore what they have to offer.

Social media networks are the new normal to get noticed and advance a professional career. Your experience and success with social media will be different than the person standing next to you. Choose platforms that make the most sense for you and your career, and be willing to change if it is not producing the desired results. Keeping up with multiple platforms and coming up with new and creative posts regularly can be exhausting and time-consuming so be sure that it is a social network that provides the best value to you and your career.

References

Badshah, A. (2017, November 8). 14 Reasons Why Every Professional Should Have a Twitter Account. Retrieved from Socedo: https://blog.socedo.com/14-reasons-why-every-professional-should-have-a-twitter-account/

Bishop, A. (2019, March 14). 13 Awesome Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn. Retrieved from Search Engine Journal: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/linkedin-alternatives/297409/#close

Sreenivasan, S. (n.d.). How to Use Social Media in Your Career. Retrieved from The New York Times Business: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/business/social-media-for-career-and-business

Interviewing is a Tough Business

It has probably been more than a decade since I have interviewed for a job. I have been fortunate that positions have come my way by people I know and have worked with and any discussions with management have been just a formality. Now after a few years as a full-time student and newly equipped with a master’s degree I am faced with the certainty that if I am fortunate enough to land an interview with a potential employer it will not be just a formality, but a rigorous process that will involve multiple interviewers and unexpected questions. Best to be prepared and place that best foot forward by refreshing one’s memory on what the key do’s and don’ts are for interview behavior.

I researched to see if anything has changed since my last interview and most of what I found was not new and just plain common sense. Nice to see that some things have remained constant over time such as never, ever, be late to an interview. Your chances of landing that job went from a maybe, to more than likely a no. We must not forget the all-time classic of being careful what you eat before an interview. Garlic and onions are notorious offenders of questionable breath that no amount of mints can tame. Add another item to the benefits list for web conferencing interviews, no breath testing required.

In all seriousness, interviewing is a tough business and regardless of the medium used your new best friend is preparedness. I found these great tips from Indeed for interviewing that should be in everyone’s interview toolkit (Indeed, 2020).

  1. Make sure the information on your resume and application are accurate. It is helpful to tailor your resume information related to the role since most interviewers will ask questions based on your resume. Be prepared to provide details on your previous position and the impact you had on the organization.
  2. Don’t wait until the day of the interview to decide what you are wearing or what materials you will be taking with you. It is a good idea to have extra copies of your resume in case of the possibility of interviewing with multiple departments.
  3. Rehearsing answers is not a bad idea. It can help relieve nervousness and anxiety. You know the saying – practice makes perfect. That applies to interviews also.
  4. Do not offer more information than necessary. It is not the time for your life story but do provide more than a yes or no answer and focus answers that relate to the role you are applying for.
  5. Interviewing is a two-way street. Ask relevant questions that will provide more detailed information about the role and that encourages the interviewer to share specifics about the organization and their favorite part of working there. Their answers and demeanor may influence your decision on whether this position is the right fit for you.

These tips are by no means a comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts and just scratch the surface of what constitutes good interviewing practices. Take time for your own exploration. There is a wealth of information out there from those who know more than me.

Of course, when researching online do be cautious with taking as fact some of the information out there. I came across some interesting and weird nuggets of advice that made me chuckle:

  • Make sure your hair is conservative.
  • Try to sparkle and use hand gestures.
  • Have some money with you (?).
  • Don’t have anything in your mouth except your teeth (perfect!).
  • Don’t fiddle with your hair.
  • Don’t be a comedian.
  • Don’t slip into a speech-making or preaching tone of voice. You are not on the Senate floor. You are in a conversation.

Get ready for your new adventure and nail that interview but above all be yourself and you will do just fine.

References

Indeed. (2020, February 11). Job Interview Do’s and Don’ts. Retrieved from Indeed.com: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/job-interview-dos-and-donts

Facebook and Professional Privacy

Facebook’s past reputation for prioritizing a user’s privacy has not been great. Facebook, after all, is a business and your data powers its business. Remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2015? That was a wake-up call for Facebook users to delve deep into their privacy settings and control who knows what about their online persona (Barret, 2018). Facebook does have a robust set of privacy and security tools for users but the settings are not necessarily easy to find and a lot of users, including myself, do not regularly check how we have those settings configured.

To be fair to Facebook, Google and other online networks track your online moves regardless if you have an account. Let me share a personal example of my relationship with Zappos. It is a favorite online shop of mine (thanks Amazon!) and I frequently add items to my wish list for later consideration. Using Google Chrome, I randomly land on a website to look around and what do I find? In the sidebar Zappo’s reminding me that I looked at those Adidas three-striped leggings. This is just the online world we live in but some precautions can be taken to control your online profile.

It is routine these days for employers to perform a Google search on applicants. No longer are the days when emailing an application and resume was all that was considered for employment. So, if you prefer that your future employer does not see a post about that night out with your friends “celebrating”, or that your profile picture is something you would be embarrassed to show your parents, then take a look at your Facebook privacy and security settings sooner than later.

In the beginning, you signed up as an individual to share personal aspects with friends you know in real life and even those you met in Facebook groups (Cannon, 2017). Now you will want to control who can send you friend requests, how people can look you up, and who can see your posts. Let’s say you want to receive friend requests for business purposes, consider changing the settings to receive friend requests from everyone (Cannon, 2017). This can be risky, so be choosy which business friend requests you accept.

Your timeline and tagging settings are how you can protect your online image from having too much personal information that can be shared in business circles. The best way is to enable features that let you review timeline posts or tags BEFORE they show up on your timeline. You can specify whether the post is just for friends or can be posted publicly. Maybe it is a thought-provoking piece about social constructivism theory versus behaviorism then consider making the post public so others can see how awesome you are!

If you plan on using your Facebook profile within professional circles then editing your profile and profile picture should be a consideration. Your profile picture is always public so make sure that you choose a photo that you are comfortable with everyone to see. Landscape images, your pet dog or pet cat photo, or your headshot picture are pretty safe bets. A profile picture of you holding a martini not so much.

Don’t forget about your cover photo either. It is seen by people who visit your timeline so think about what you would like the cover photo to say about your professional persona. Add a few images to your biography section that show you with co-workers or attending a business seminar. If you believe you have crossed all the T’s and dotted the I’s look at how the public sees your timeline by clicking on the “seeing eye” icon to view what your Facebook profile will present to potential employers. If you like what you see, then you are ready to conquer the world.

References

Barret, B. (2018, March 21). The Complete Guide to Facebook Privacy. Retrieved from Wired: https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-privacy-apps-ads-friends-delete-account/

Cannon, T. (2017, June 4). What’s the Difference Between a Personal Profile and a Business Page? Retrieved from Social Media Examiner: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-a-facebook-personal-profile-for-business-a-guide-for-marketers/

The Adult Learner

Today adult learners expect more from their training. We all want on-demand, personalized, and engaging instruction whether it is for personal use or in the workplace. The challenge is how best to create instruction for a topic that may be used by an audience with diverse experience and knowledge. Taking time to understand the learner is the first step in designing effective and personalized instruction. One way to accomplish this task is to conduct a learner journey mapping exercise by asking the following questions (Popescu, 2019):

Who is the learner? What do they need to know? When will they use the information and why does it matter to them?

Answers to these questions will guide the instructional design in building content (Popescu, 2019). Regardless of the instructional model used, analyzing and understanding the audience is paramount. Delivering instruction that is well thought out with the learner in the center of the design will help the participant feel engaged in their own training.

Today, face-to-face instruction is a luxury as time is an expensive commodity and in response organizations are becoming more flexible in how they deliver learning to their employees and clients. Learners want to engage “where they are” and want the freedom to learn at their own pace and when it it is convenient for them. Most personnel are constantly challenged with keeping up with the latest news and continuing education while improving productivity. Understanding the adult learner and their needs, and which type of training delivery will provide effective instruction in the least amount of time, is one reason instructional design has become essential in creating and delivering quality training.

References

Popescu, A. (2019, July 16). Leveraging Personalized Learning to Increase Member Engagement. Retrieved from Association for Talent Development: https://www.td.org/insights/leveraging-personalized-learning-to-increase-member-engagement