Chances are, you already have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. But if not, you’re missing some of the most powerful weapons in your job-hunting arsenal. According to a recent survey from Jobvite, one in every six American workers has used social media platforms to find work.
The most powerful platform for actually finding a job was Facebook, with more than 18 million users finding work there. LinkedIn was credited for 10 million new hires, and Twitter led to 8 million jobs.
Those are some impressive stats—so if you’re using social media but not finding work there, what can you do to increase your odds?
· Add more connections. Most of the survey respondents who got their jobs through social media are considered “Super Social,” with 150 connections or more on each network. Often, even people you don’t know well can alert you to great opportunities, so don’t be shy about sending out connection requests to people you’ve met—you never know when someone might post a status update to say that her firm is looking to hire a new marketing manager or graphic designer.
· Update your profiles with current professional information. Though LinkedIn is a professional network by nature, Facebook is often seen simply as a social network, and many users don’t bother to share details of their recent work accomplishments there. Be sure to spotlight your work skills and post details about recent projects across all platforms—your updates might catch the eye of someone in a position to hire you.
· Pay attention to your privacy settings. While social media can be a great tool in helping you get a job, your profiles can also turn off potential employers if they come across photos or language that doesn’t fit their values. Make sure that personal photos and private jokes are only accessible to your “real-life” friends, so they won’t create a negative impact for potential employers or recruiters.
· Ask for referrals. When you’re looking for a job, it helps to be as proactive as possible. That may mean looking through your friends’ connections on Facebook and LinkedIn to find people who might be in a position to hire you, and then asking for an introduction. Don’t ask any particular individual for help too often, but if you send a polite letter explaining why you want the introduction, your friends (online-only or not) will likely be happy to oblige.
- Date May 11, 2012
- Category Career AdviceJob LeadsSocial Media
How many times have you found yourself at a party or a networking event and heard the question, “What do you do?” It's pretty much guaranteed to come right after you introduce yourself. It's a common question, but if you answer it well, it can also be an opportunity. That's why it pays to have a quick synopsis of what you do in your back pocket. This quick overview is sometimes known as an “elevator speech,” because it answers the question, “How would you describe your business to an important connection in just the space of an elevator ride?”
The most effective elevator speeches are succinct (about 30 seconds, but no more than a minute) and targeted. Figure out who you want to reach and what you want to say. Are you trying to get a job? Then make what you have to offer to a company the focus of your speech. Trying to sell a product? Make that your focal point. Figure out your audience and write to their needs. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Get excited about what you do.
If you're really pumped about what you have to offer, your passion will come through, loud and clear. True passion tends to come across as genuine, not sales-y, so you don't seem too pushy or overwhelming.
Set yourself apart.
Take some time to honestly ponder what makes you unique. In most cases, there are lots of people who have your exact job or skill set. What inimitable you-ness do you bring to the projects you take on?
Be honest and clear.
When you're passionate about what you do and when you've really given thought to what you do well, you don't have to artificially inflate your skills or use confusing jargon to make yourself seem smarter and more important. Tell your story with honesty and simplicity.
Write, write, and write some more.
Take some time to self-examine and determine your strengths and what you have to offer, then write several drafts. Don't edit yourself. (You can do that later.) Take lots of different approaches: quirky, serious, businesslike, fun. When you've written and written and written some more, put your work aside and sleep on it. After a few days, come back to it and edit. Whittle it down to less than a minute, and make sure it sounds authentic, because in order to make it a speech, you have to actually say it.
Practice makes perfect.
In front of a mirror, alone in a room, role-play with a friend—it doesn't matter what you do to bring this speech to life, just do something. It has to feel natural coming out of your mouth when you put it into practice. If something feels stilted or just doesn't sound natural, change it. Yes, you will feel goofy about it at first. But once you really get comfortable with what you're saying, you'll be glad you did it.
It takes some work, but once you get comfortable with it, your elevator speech means you'll never be tongue-tied when opportunity knocks
- Date May 29, 2012
- Category Career Advice
Tax time is upon us again. Are you paying more than you should be?
You may not have realized that you can deduct expenses related to your job search—and in fact, if you haven’t filed your returns yet, you can ask the IRS for a six-month extension to get everything in order. Here’s a rundown of some of the deductions you should be eligible for.
Resume services - If you’ve hired someone to help you craft your resume, or paid for a professionally-designed resume layout (like Loft Resumes,) hold on to your receipts: Any services related to creating and producing your resume or CV are tax-deductible.
Mailing expenses - Stamps are pricey these days. If you’re sending job applications out all over the state, carefully track what you’re spending on postage and mailing materials like manila envelopes and stationary. You’ll be able itemize these costs as well.
Travel expenses - If you caught a flight to New York for a job interview, you can deduct your plane and hotel expenses (though not the Broadway show you saw while you were there), whether or not you landed the job. And, even if you applied for a job 15 minutes away, you can deduct gas costs and parking fees for your trip into town. If you paid a babysitter or daycare center to watch your children while you were going on interviews, those expenses can be deducted as well.
Consultant and membership fees - If you hired a career coach or a recruiter to help you find work, any money paid for those services count as write-offs. Premium job site memberships, such as a LinkedIn Premium account or The Ladders, count, too, so don’t hesitate to subscribe to sign up for services that you think will help you find work. Want to join a trade group related to the field you’ve been working in? That’s tax-deductible, too, and it might help you gain some great leads on new career prospects.
However, certain job-seeking expenses aren’t deductible, such as:
Business attire and personal care services - Although you probably wouldn’t be buying a business suit and spending $100 on a new hair cut unless you had a potential boss to impress, costs for clothing and personal care and beauty services aren’t subject to deductions, so be careful how much you spend to make a good first impression.
Recreational club memberships - While it’s true that you might meet a great contact at the gym or the golf club, the IRS doesn’t believe that job-hunting is your primary purpose for signing up, so no deductions are possible.
The IRS also has some caveats about when any job-seeking expenses can be deducted: For instance, if you’re seeking a career in a new field, or you’re looking for your very first job, you’re not eligible for any deductions. In any case, the amount you can claim in tax breaks is limited according to how much you earned in the past year (assuming you earned anything). Check out the IRS’ Tax Tips for Job Seekers for more details, or talk to an accountant (also tax-decuctible) who can help you claim any deductions you may be eligible for.
- Date April 28, 2012
- Category Career Advice
A personal blog can be used for just about any purpose: You can use it to review concerts you’ve seen, take photos of your cat, or critique actresses’ runway dresses. Or, if you’re in the market for a new job, your blog can help you land one—if used wisely.
Focus on your industry. If you’re serious about getting a job in HR, don’t spend all your time writing about old movies: With blogging, it pays to research and write about your personal take on recent trends and industry news. That lets potential employers know that you’re not just a card-puncher—you’re truly passionate about working in that particular field.
Establish a brand. It can take a long time to make a viable living from blogging, but building credibility and brand recognition isn’t nearly as difficult. Once you’ve focused on your niche, ask high-powered people within your field for interviews: Before long, your site will become a source of knowledge for industry leaders. When you go in for interviews, your blog can help you demonstrate your authority and knowledge.
Start conversations within your posts. Even the most powerful bloggers and companies love to see who’s linking to them, so don’t be afraid to link liberally within your blog posts. It’s an easy way to gain attention from industry experts who would otherwise never pay attention to you, and build up your Rolodex (improving your job-hunting prospects).
Comment on the blogs of people who might be able to hire (or refer you). Once you’ve written a few industry-relevant blog posts, make a concentrated effort to post thoughtful comments on the blogs of industry influencers who live in your area. Impress them with compelling comments, and they’ll likely take the time to look at your blog, and may even contact you about a job opening. Even if the process isn’t that easy, building powerful connections can always help open the door to a referral in the future.
Blog for a living. No matter what your career interests might be, building a successful blog proves that you’re a good writer and promoter. If your site really takes off, you may be able to rely on it for a living, using monetization strategies such as banner advertising, sponsored posts, and affiliate marketing. In most cases, however, it takes years of scraping by to get to that point. On the bright side, your blog is likely to help you secure other blogging gigs, even if they’re on different topics. Regardless of what you ultimately want to do for a living, blogging is a great way to build up a highly relevant skillset that will appeal to employers of all kinds.
- Date May 09, 2012
- Category Career Advice
Like everything in cyberspace, video resumes will last forever on the Internet, so they should be produced with the utmost care, professionalism, and preparation. Even though a video may seem like a sufficient representation of your talents and experience, it is not a substitute for a perfectly written resume and cover letter. If done well, however, it may be what lands you the job of your dreams. Here are five examples of creative, personalized video resumes from job seekers.
Theo Ramsey’s Big Band Resume
Theo Ramsey has managed to incorporate a lot of elements in one, brief presentation. Aside from maintaining a genuine character throughout his video, Ramsey showcases his talents right up front. By combining still photography, music, and recorded interviews, he has produced a dynamic way to present himself to potential employers. One of the most interesting elements, however, is the inclusion of references. Though it’s not recommended to list one’s references on the actual written resume, when done carefully, outside sources in a video resume can add credibility.
Erin Vondrak’s Singalong Resume
Erin Vondrak is dying to work for Valve, a company that creates video games—so she figured she’d have a little fun with her application by creating an animated video, complete with an original song about her skills and passion for working in the video game industry. Know your audience: While this type of approach likely wouldn’t go over well at a law firm, video game developers generally don’t take themselves too seriously and may appreciate a bit of humor.
Saji Nair’s Well-Traveled Resume
Be attentive to aesthetics and presentation. Saji Nair’s video is a great example of someone who uses her public speaking skills to her advantage. Her delivery is well-rehearsed without filler words (e.g. “um,” “so,” “like,” etc.), and it doesn’t appear as though she is fixated on a teleprompter. You should be familiar with your own strengths and professional background, so have it memorized (and this doesn’t mean “canned”)! Use natural language and leave some room for improvisation. Lastly, invest in quality. No shaky cameras, poor sound quality, or cheesy backdrops, please. Keep it sophisticated.
Devina Deascal’s Fashionista Resume
Deascal’s video manages to accomplish something very important— after a terse three minutes, we have a solid grasp of her experience, skills, passions, and education. Artistic camera angles keep attention trained on her the entire time. She also plays to her audience: the fashion industry. By performing multiple wardrobe changes throughout this video, she has become her own, living portfolio.
Matthew Epstein’s Google Plea
This video may be slightly controversial in its use of tongue-in-cheek jokes and monologue, but it is one of the most entertaining video resumes out there. Epstein solicits a few chuckles while keeping the material appropriate. He has fun with his presentation, showing he’s confident and willing to take risks. That said, a video like this would not be well received by every audience. The corporate world may be wary to hire someone who threatens not to wear pants to work. Epstein did get hired, though, and works at a start-up company in San Francisco where his imagination and wit are undoubtedly put to good use.
- Date April 28, 2012
- Category Career AdviceResume Advice
Fast Company just published a blog post titled "15 Tech Scenes in Places You'd Never Think to Look". Greenville, South Carolina, where are our offices are located, is listed as the first city. There's also a great mention of Loft Resumes. Check it out.
- Date June 26, 2012
- Category Press
Whether you’re established in your career or just starting out, networking is the biggest key to getting ahead. We’ve all heard, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In a tough job market, you need all the friends you can get. One way to cultivate these contacts is through an informal coffee interview.
The coffee interview is a low-key informational chat, frequently held at a neutral location like a coffee shop (hence the name.) It doesn’t typically lead directly to a job—though some people get lucky—but it can help you build important contacts and give you an inside look at what’s really going on in your industry. Because it’s a low-pressure, casual setting, you can ask questions you might not ordinarily ask in a first interview, like questions about the kind of compensation or benefits you might receive, or what sort of work/life balance you can really expect. If you're just starting your career, or if you're out of practice when it comes to interviewing, it's also a low-key way to brush up your skills.
Landing the coffee talk.
Be bold. Scour your network of family, friends and acquaintances for people they know in your area of interest. You never know whose brother's sister-in-law's cousin knows someone in the field you want to break into. Don't be afraid to make calls, send emails or interact on Twitter—just don't be annoying. Remember, people are generally nice and want to help others succeed.
Before your chat.
Prepare yourself. Research the industry, company and person you'll be talking to. Develop a list of questions to ask. Be prepared to talk a bit about yourself, your skills and your interest in the business, but be succinct. Take any materials you wish to share—your resume, a portfolio, whatever—and steel yourself to graciously and humbly accept feedback. In general, listen more than you talk. Remember, you're not asking for a job; just for the opportunity to learn from an expert.
The day of.
Arrive on time and look nice. Don't overdress, but be neat and put-together. Order something simple—no white-chocolate caramel frappe with extra whip for you today, buddy. It makes you look high-maintenance. Offer to pay. Be sure to be a good steward of the other person’s time. He or she probably has a busy schedule, so be aware of that and wrap things up at the agreed-upon time.
We sound like our moms here, but seriously, send a thank-you note. Not an email, not a text, not a post on the person’s Facebook wall. Send a real, live, handwritten-on-stationary thank you note. IN CURSIVE. It seems old-fashioned, but it makes an impression. And wasn't that your plan all along?
(Photo Credit: chichacha)
- Date May 18, 2012
- Category Career Advice
Sure, a resume is meant to be a serious document. But for many positions, a splash of color and a creative design can show employers that you’re the type of person who cares about making an unforgettable impression, giving you an edge at landing your dream job. While job seekers in all kinds of professions are using Loft Resumes, we thought we’d give you a sampling of a few career opportunities that can especially benefit from a creative job-hunting approach.
Video production - To work in the film industry, you’ll need to have an eye for the right angle. A sleek, modern-looking C.V., coupled with an impressive film reel, can help illustrate that you’ve got what it takes.
Creative director or art director - If you’re seeking work at an ad agency or design shop, an eye-catching resumé will show that you know your stuff and will help you stand out from the crowd—alongside some great portfolio samples, of course.
A job in the fashion industry - The fashion world is all about appearance, so when you’re applying for a position in the fashion or beauty industry, you can put your best foot forward with a glamorous resumé that beautifully presents your skills. For this profession, it can be a great idea to include a professional headshot—or, in this case, even a full body shot that demonstrates that you know how to style an outfit.
An art teacher - Whether you’re aiming for a kindergarten classroom or a university, a creative, professionally designed resume can help you skip to the front of the line.
Actor - As an actor, whether you get a role or not is largely based on your audition. Even so, submitting a colorful, creative resume that includes a dramatic headshot will jog the director’s memory about your dazzling performance, enhancing your chances of getting the role.
Museum curator - If you’re seeking work as a gallery curator or a related position in an art museum, the director will want to see that you have a great eye for style and placement. A carefully curated, visually compelling resume will help do the trick.
Package designer - If you’re applying for a job designing product packages, it can pay off to put thought and effort into deciding how to package yourself as a job candidate. A clever concept that’s perfectly executed can help you make the sale.
- Date May 18, 2012
- Category Resume Advice
Dishwasher, grocery store cashier, telemarketer—and on it goes. It can get depressing spending hours on job-hunting sites without spotting a single position you could see yourself in.
Are you wondering why the pickings are always so dismal on job-hunting sites like Monster.com and Craigslist?
There’s a simple answer: The best job opportunities never get listed on these sites in the first place. Most employers find enough qualified candidates for high-paying, exciting jobs before they need to think about publicly advertising.
So how can you find those jobs? Here are some tips:
1) Make lots of friends. The best way to get the scoop about a current or future job opening is to know someone at the organization, who’s likely to tell you when a relevant opening comes up and refer you for an interview. Increase your odds by building up your social networks (both through old-fashioned networking and social media promotion), and telling your real-life and online friends exactly what type of career you’re seeking.
2) Make cold calls (and write cold emails). In many cases, employers might recognize a need for a new position long before they’ve started to actively advertise a job. By calling or emailing relevant department heads and sharing details about your work experience, you may be able to score a few job interviews (with few to no competitors). Even if you don’t get a positive response immediately, don’t be afraid to follow up every few weeks—you never know when someone may have a surprise opening that suits your skills.
3) Beef up your LinkedIn profile. These days, when employers are looking for new staff, they’ll often start their searches by looking through their existing employees’ LinkedIn contact lists, or running keyword searches for job categories or skills within the local area. If you haven’t taken the time to fill out your profile in detail, you could be missing out on these opportunities. Check out LinkedIn’s tips for improving your profile to enhance your job opportunities.
4) Check out your favorite companies’ websites. Sometimes, companies will create job descriptions and post them on their own websites without promoting them elsewhere. Generally, they’re counting on existing employees or recruiters to help promote the opportunities, or they’re not in a huge rush to fill the positions. Do a drive-by of your favorite business sites every few weeks to see if there’s anything new on their “careers” pages.
- Date May 09, 2012
- Category Career Advice
You don't need us to tell you it's tough out there. In a crowded job market, it's tempting to do whatever it takes to make yourself appear to be the most desirable candidate, and that includes what might politely be called “stretching the truth.” It may not seem like such a big deal to tell a little fib on your resume, but if you ask Scott Thompson, the Yahoo CEO who stepped down last Sunday because he claimed he graduated with a computer science degree when he actually earned a degree in accounting, he'd tell you it's a very big deal.
The really sad part of the story is that Thompson might have turned out to be the greatest CEO in the company's history. We'll never know. He didn't have to lie. A little smart marketing could have gotten him the job, without the regrettable ethical violations. You can learn from his mistakes. We have a few ideas that won't come back to bite you.
Let your cover letter tell your story.
A cover letter is the place for you to connect the dots for your potential employer. Your resume lists the facts; your cover letter lets you turn those facts into a narrative that shows your employer how your education and previous experience works together to make you the right candidate for the job. Let's say you have a degree in psychology, but you're applying for a marketing position. You can use your cover letter to tell your potential boss how your study of psychology taught you to understand how people think, giving you the ability to understand your clients' motivations and making you a better marketer. Your resume alone can't do that story justice.
Consider your references carefully.
Choose references who have a thorough grasp on your strengths and your background, and who you trust to give you a glowing recommendation. If you feel comfortable with them (and if you've asked them to provide a reference, you should), prep them before anyone has a chance to call. Let them know what the position entails and give them a heads-up that someone might contact them.
Know the company.
The more research you do on the company you're courting, the better able you are to emphasize the right experiences and skills. This ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT mean lying or exaggerating. This means reflecting upon your experience and abilities and applying them to the challenges the position presents.
Play up your skills, but don't exaggerate.
This is where marketing comes in. Think carefully about your work or educational experience and consider the skills you've developed that may not be immediately obvious to a potential employer, but that do make you a great candidate for the job. Let's consider Scott Thompson again. On the surface, a degree in accounting might not seem to qualify him for the role of CEO at Yahoo as well as a computer science degree does, but if he had taken the time to really consider the skills that degree helped him develop—an analytical mind, the ability to solve real-world problems, a logical thinking process—he could have helped Yahoo see that the sum of his experience makes him the best candidate for the job, regardless of his degree. You don't have to lie on your resume. You simply have to help potential employers understand how the experience and education you do have make you the best fit for the position.
Break through the clutter.
You know what's always completely honest? A professional and stylish Loft resume. Hey, would you really trust us to give you tips to market yourself if we didn't take every opportunity to do the same?
(Photo Credit: Discoodoni)
- Date May 16, 2012
- Category Career AdviceResume Advice