WASHINGTON, July 25, 2012 — If you are looking for a job, the two most important people to know are a good recruiter and someone who ultimately makes the hiring decision. It’s less about how many applications you can fill out online and how often you can develop meaningful relationships.
I described how social media are changing recruitment earlier this month, with Vitamin T’s Kelly Moeller, a good recruiter. Building an online presence, in any field, cannot be underestimated. A successful job hunt is about finding a way to market yourself, to set yourself apart from a remarkable amount of competition and an enormous number of online applications.
Holly Paul, PwC’s U.S. Recruiting Leader, is a great person to know. Her thoughts on social recruitment and creating an online presence are valuable for any job seeker.
Jeff Barrett: Why is it important to have an online presence?
Holly Paul: It is absolutely critical, especially if you are a job seeker. It is becoming the primary channel for recruiters to find quality candidates. Google searches, LinkedIn are our biggest channel.
For others, not necessarily job seekers, it’s still important. It’s great for subject matter experts trying to engage with a greater community. Everything we are doing work wise is now becoming more connected through LinkedIn.
JB: Social media have made our private lives public. Where is the balance between personal and professional?
HP: The line is very blurred. I was reading on the plane that there are companies asking whether PwC wants to look in to social media reviews. We do not do that. But the fact that it’s out there shows that everything in social media is created for public consumption.
Students may be looking at social media, but not from the perspective of employers. Someone can find it. Keep it professional. It doesn’t mean it can’t be personal. “Keep it professional” means that anyone you come in contact with professionally would not get a negative impression.
You want to have a point of view. Keep it in the positive. Don’t talk about others or be negative.
If you want to be taken seriously, don’t provide opinions that detract from you looking like a professional.
Personally, I love online profiles that share a point of view and are provocative as long as they are viewed as being thoughtful about that. Those individuals who have a personality and exhibit their personal brand are interesting. We are looking at a lot of people. These people stand out when they have something unique to say.
JB: What are your tips for professional social networking?
HP: My biggest piece of advice is to engage. Engage in dialogues and discussions. You want to come up in searches. When you post in a professional social media environment be more thoughtful about what you are posting. Make sure someone is getting some value out of it.
Make sure you give something back to your audience. Combine posts around expertise and interest with value, not just opinion. Those are the individuals who are being followed. A good way to think about social networking is if you are trying to build a following, you will be sought after if you are providing valuable information or something others may not know.
JB: What can someone do to get notice by you? What’s your favorite story about a job seeker?
HP: Those who get noticed the most use the social networking tools the most to their benefit. I get a dozen requests a day. We hire over 10,000 people a year at PwC. The types that I don’t pay attention to just send a resume and ask for help. That haven’t shown they researched PwC or given me anything to start with. They are asking me to do the work for them. We have 250,000 people apply every year. Those individuals go in the mix of thousands. I try to go back and say, “do a little homework.”
A post came in last week. Individual did their research on me. They referenced an article on me. They connected with an individual at PwC on LinkedIn, talked about their skills that could benefit PwC and asked for a discussion.
Always nice to know when people are reading what you have out there. If they are willing to make that effort I will give them some of my time as well. It gave me a deep understanding of what they were looking for. They were proactive.
That allowed me to reach out to the person at PwC and have them connect with the job seeker. They motivated me to help this seeker. I immediately got them in touch with the right recruiter.
JB: How do you see personal branding evolving in the next couple years?
HP: PwC is very focused on it. We do a personal brand week every year. We try to educate everyone, mostly students and seekers. It has been a great hit. People really need some help in understanding what that means and how to harness it.
Where we are today is in an education phase. Over the next few years, the idea of personal brand will become as prevalent as having a social media profile. There will be a new focus in social media on reinforcing a personal brand.
Right now it’s a concept. Over time as people engage with social media three, five, seven years from now, that concept will become so known that everyone will focus on it immediately. They will tie all channels in social media so they have a theme. Consistency is key.
You can’t be one person one day and something else the next. Brand will become part of your normal social media existence. Most professionals are aware of LinkedIn now. It’s not a question to be on it anymore like perhaps it was five years ago. It will be interesting to see how it evolves. People will see strong brands and follow suit. It will just be natural.
It is important for students to focus on it now. Those interactions in social media will stay with you. If you had prior connections, you are going to remember the negative and inappropriate first. People are building a professional brand before they even enter the workforce. I try to give them a couple examples so that they don’t think I’m a lecturing mom.
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