Job Search Strategy: Being in Transition in the Digital Age

15 04 2009

If you are looking for a job (unemployed|underemployed), you are facing a two-headed monster– challenging economic circumstances and navigating a digital landscape with all the Web 2.0 terms and language.  My goal is this article is to demystify the digital landscape and provide some perspective on finding your next gig.

The digital age is a place we have never been before.  Elaine Orler, describes the uniqueness of the digital age in terms of this is the first time in human history that the older citizens learn from the young (although each generation of teens think they teach adults, now they really do).  The young (digital natives) are born with a mouse (the Microsoft kind) in one hand and a rattle in the other.  The older (digital immigrants) listen and learn about how to use computers and how to navigate the digital age.  I found that there is a third category for recruiting dinosaurs (digital boatperson). 

So why is a digital boatperson writing about job search strategy in a digital age? Well for two reasons—my editor suggested the topic and secondly, I spend the greater part of the 21st century looking for work. 

As an advocate for talent and social networking communities, I noticed that many of the aspects of a digital age community began when the world was analog (aka last century).  Part of the baggage that I carry is the realization that professional associations have been an active part of most professions for several decades.  In this digital age, the networks are virtual, broader, and use a different language—but at their center, it is still about people being loyal to a profession. 

My aspiration to transition my career from third party recruiting to corporate recruiting required me to become a “serial contract recruiter” in order to gain the necessary experience to join “a Microsoft.”   Three principles sustained me during this time.

1.     Always be looking

The nature of our work in recruiting and sourcing with an ebb and flow in demand teaches us to be sensitive to the transitory aspects of the recruiting profession.  I learned to always be on the lookout for the next role. 

2.     Be Findable

The pundits have told us that we must build our personal brand.  In boomer terms, I think of it of being available.

If search engines are the preferred method of finding resumes and information on new employees, then we must make ourselves findable by people looking for recruiters and sourcers.  The Web 2.0 term is for being found is search engine optimization (SEO). 

The goal for a job seeking recruiter|sourcer is make certain your profile is optimized so that you show up in the first page of an Internet keyword search.  To find out if you are findable, try reverse engineering your name.  That is, go to a leading search engine (Google, Live or Yahoo) and enter your name and push enter.  Experiment with this—try putting your recruiting specialty and your city and press enter. 

In my reverse engineering test, my name can up on the first page (above the fold) on the Big 3 (GoogleLive & Yahoo). Not only that, you will find me on LinkedIn,JobsterDiigoRecruiting Blogs (Ning Group), and even the Source Newsletter.  If I enter talent community development and Seattle, I can be found on the first page.  So, I am fairly well optimized.

How do you optimize your name?  Luckily, it is built into LinkedIn, Jobster and most places that you can create a public profile.  On LinkedIn, when you are filling out a profile, you will notice a large field called “interests.”  These are very important to fill out strategically because LinkedIn optimizes these links and are a great way to make certain you can be found.  The same is true on Jobster (although you are limited to 5 keywords); Diigo, Recruiting Blogs, et al.  Just fill out a lot of profiles and you will become findable.

3.     Community is imperative

Community is about a two-way street.  I joined organizations and became an active member in giving back to those communities.  I networked with consultants and thought leaders in order to share my goals and provide any possible assistance to them. 

Be an active part of the recruiting communities.  Be loyal to your profession.  Be available to serve and increase your community visibility.  I did not find any of my jobs via a job board or an advertisement.  Other than being recruited (by a headhunter) to a startup, each of my jobs was found by networking and referrals.

Finding My Next Gig

I am not certain how to coach a person on how to find a job, but I am willing to share how I would go about finding a recruiting opportunity in Seattle, WA.  This hypothetical job search might illustrate some tactics|strategies that might be applicable in your situation. 

Social Networking Sites

I would use 5 primary social networking sites in my job search.  They are Jobster,LinkedIn, FaceBook, Recruiting Blogs, & Twitter. 

  • LinkedIn: I use LinkedIn as one of the methods of marketing my qualifications and experience.  If I were in a job search mode, I would clean up my profile, solicit more references from my colleagues, and make certain the “interests” section was reflecting the types of key words that firms would put into a search engine when they were looking for a recruiter or a sourcer(remember the reverse engineering above).  I would set up search agents onLinkedIn that would monitor openings that I would be interested in reviewing.
  • Jobster:  I use Jobster as a method of marketing my credentials to search engines (Google, Live & Yahoo).  Jobster (now Recruiting.com) uses search engine optimization to help move your information up to the top of search engine pages.  It is a great way to stay findable.
  • Facebook:  Facebook’s remarkable growth (now 175M+ users) makes it a ‘must-use’ virtual location to be findable.  More and more companies are using Facebook’s search features to find potential employees.  In addition, it is a great place to network with employees of companies that are of interest to you.
  • Recruiting Blogs: I am a big fan of recruiting communities as a method of finding my next gig.  In addition to providing a unique site for recruiting & sourcing job seekers, RecruitingBlogs offers an open door to the leading recruiters who might be able to provide assistance. 
  • Twitter: I use Twitter as a listening device to keep tabs on what is going on in the recruiting industry.  I follow interesting people and thought leaders in recruiting and sourcing.  I would periodically announce my availability and interest in another opportunity.

Yahoo Groups

  • The Ruthie List:  the Ruthie List is a 12-year-old community of 7,000 members that is comprised of recruiters and HR pros.  This group is Atlanta based, but may have some national spill over into other regions.  In addition, positions that could be served remotely could be of interest.
  • WARecruit:  this is a Yahoo group that serves the State of Washington.  It is comprised of recruiters and HR professionals.  It is a very active community of 2400+ members that discuss recruiting & HR issues.  Frequently job searches are part of the conversation.

Automate Your Search with Job Agents

On the Big 3 Search Engines (Google, Live & Yahoo) I would set up “alerts” that would run a search string of the desired job and location on a daily basis.  In addition another class of search engines—vertical search engines (Indeed,SimplyHired, JuJu et al) aggregate jobs from multiple sources and allow you to set up “job alerts.” 

Associations

  • ERE:  A leading industry association, ERE has a great section for recruiting jobs and if you become a member (free signup), access is provided to many of thought leaders in recruiting and sourcing.  The site also allows for “alerts” that will let you know if a job is posted that might be of interest.
  • NWRA (NorthWest Recruiter Association):  an industry group that serves the recruiting and sourcing community.  This group has social networking events and an active presence on Facebook and LinkedIn to engage the recruiting community in conversations.
  • SMA Seattle (Staffing Management Association of Seattle):  SMA is an industry group that serves the recruiting community.  As a part of SHRM(Society of Human Resources Management) its mission is to provide nationalconference quality, practitioner focused programs and networking opportunities.
  • HR Roundtable:  An industry group compromised of High Technology HR professionals.  A very strong networking group.

Experts|Third Parties|Centers of Influence

Consultants:  People that are thought leaders, or in the “know.”  Recruiting industry thought leaders that are in a “trusted advisor” relationship with their clients is a great source of referrals to non-advertised positions.  Many positions are filled behind the scenes. 

Recruiters:  I seek out the recruiters that place recruiters or at least might know what is going on.  For me it would be Chris EnglinJohn Vlastelica, Paul Freed and perhaps a staffing firm or two that might offer an interim gig.

Job Boards

The evidence suggests that job boards have taken a secondary position to search engines as the favored method of seeking jobs.  That said, I still would put my resume on Dice, Monster, CareerBuilder & Dice.  I still receive email invitations from a long forgotten resume (and seemingly undiscoverable by me) placed on CareerBuilder 4 years ago.  If nothing else, it proves that some recruiters seeking to find recruiters still use the job boards to find talent.  In addition, I would set up search agents that would advise me of any jobs in my area of interest.

Other resources

The multi-talented Jim Stroud has prepared some very interesting video curriculum and many job search techniques for the 21st century job seeker.  If I were in a job search mode, I would spend a couple of hours getting some great as well as very practical direction from this “searchologist.”

The language of a job search is very simple.  My favorite phrase in recruiting is “I need your help.”  That coupled with “thank you” has stood the test of time in a job search.  It is still appropriate in this digital age.  I believe that whether we are employed or unemployed, there is a sense of ‘we are all in this together’.  That sense of community seems to permeate the fabric of society. 

In this day and time, “I need your help” will cause people to give you their time and offer assistance.  “Thank you” is the currency of community.  I wish you success and happy job hunting.

smith-marvinHaving been in the recruiting world for over two decades, Marvin Smith currently works for Microsoft. He provides the Microsoft Entertainment & Devices Division staffing team with mission critical talent by identifying and cultivating relationships with target talent community. His talent community development strategies include competitive intelligence, e-sourcing/recruiting,online recruiting, social networking, and talent database acquisition.





Using Twitter Effectively to Recruit Candidates

14 04 2009

By now, most of you have heard about, or are using, the “micro” blogging site Twitter.  It’s a great way to tell your contacts what you’re doing, or what you’re eating for dinner tonight, or what television show you can’t stop watching.  But for those of us in the sourcing and recruiting industry, the question is “How can we use Twitter to source candidates?”  Thankfully, you can.  Limiting your “tweets” to 140 characters may not provide much substance, but there are ways to get the information or people you are after.

Let’s start with using Twitter’s search interface.  The Advanced Search interface, at first glance, appears to be a great resource.  However, in my experience it only searches the individual entries, or better known as “tweets.”  Most of the information we are after is going to be in the very valuable “BIO” section.  You are only allowed 160 characters in this space as well, so it’s very important to concisely state your profession and expertise here.  In addition to the BIO section, there is also location information available, and one link to an external site.  THIS is the information we are after. 

I have experimented with searching Twitter through a site: search on Google, and the results have been good, so while I do recommend that method, there are also numerous third-party search applications out there that will search this information.  A couple worth mentioning here are Tweepsearch (http://www.tweepsearch.com) and Twellow (http://www.twellow.com).  Both of these search engines search bio information only, and I’ve found the results to be a great help in numerous searches.  For example, say you have a search for a Java developer and they can be based anywhere in the Midwest.  Using Twellow, entering the following search string yields 23 targeted results:

 java (Chicago | Detroit | Indianapolis | Cleveland | Milwaukee | Minneapolis)

Granted, this is a very basic search string, and although it’s not yielding a great amount of results, these are very targeted individuals that you can easily get in touch with via a Direct Message on Twitter. 

While being able to search Twitter for passive candidates may be great, you’re not fully utilizing this resource unless you harvest Twitter’s ability to quickly get a message out to the right people.  Building a strong following on Twitter can be a lengthy process, but the results can be great.  For example, I recently had a local client in need of a Web Designer.  I searched for, and then “followed”, local web and graphic designers in my region using Twellow and LinkedIn.  Many (I would say about 90%) of people you follow will follow you back, so soon I had a good number of those people following me.   Instead of taking the time to send each one of them a Direct Message through Twitter, I simply put out a “tweet” that I had a local client looking for a talented Web Designer.  In literally five minutes I had a message from a colleague of a Web Designer that was following me, and we ended up sending him out for an interview that day.

As Twitter grows in popularity, it will become an even more valuable tool in your recruiting arsenal.  In fact, just last month Twitter passed LinkedIn in terms of the number of unique visitors to the site, with over 14 million hits.  If you are not using this site as a tool to not only search for passive candidates but also communicate instantly with a targeted audience, you’re simply not leveraging this valuable tool to its full potential.  

 

 

versluis-photoPrior to joining The Judson Group, Jeff Versluis spent over four years developing his recruiting and staffing expertise with search firms in both Florida and Michigan.  Jeff is responsible for all research functions, including passive candidate generation, data mining, market research and other special projects. He has successfully used his knowledge of accounting, finance, banking, and administrative services to leverage an extensive network of contacts. 





SourceCon Spotlight: Up and Coming Sourcers – Stephen Carlson

14 04 2009

carlson-stephen-photoThe SourceCon spotlight for April 2009 goes to Stephen Carlson, Sourcing Specialist with Johnson Controls in Milwaukee, WI.

Stephen was in the US Air Force, and the last year of his time in the Air Force he was working in the back office doing background checks on people who wanted to visit the bases.  After doing that for about a year he told his boss they needed to hire more administrative people to do that work moving forward. Stephen’s boss put him in charge of sourcing and recruiting these administrative people. Now with Johnson Controls, Stephen has been working in a sourcing role for about 1 ½ years. He supports 12 corporate recruiters nation-wide and provides the sourcing for the positions they need to fill. He also work on positions outside the United States from time to time.

Stephen is one of those sourcers who uses a combination of internet and phone to conduct research.  He uses internet research as a first step in his sourcing efforts, but he prefers to use the phone for the deeper sourcing. He also relies heavily on people who are entrepreneurs and have recently started their own businesses.  They usually like to tell their story of how they got there and what their goals/visions are and also like to refer other people to him.

Being able to provide techniques and sourcing advice to colleagues and co-workers has definitely motivated Stephen to continuing learning. He says, “You can learn so much from networking and sharing knowledge with each other. There is always someone out there that knows more than you and I always pick their brain to increase my knowledge and try to pass that along as well to others.”

Stephen spends a lot of his time on LinkedIn; he is always open to new connections. He says it is a great tool to ask questions, research sourcing tools and build pipelines. It is as necessary to him as a job board is to traditional recruiters. He is also a big proponent of tracking information and being able to show your results. Stephen’s current company does a great job of tracking data and showing value. He is a fan of creating spreadsheets, pivot tables and charts to track candidates contacted, sources being utilized and turnaround time between initial contact and phone screens. 

carlson-stephen-photo-2Another tool that Stephen believes in is cold calling. Cold calling, he says, is always his suggestion to other sourcers and recruiters. He says it is hands down the tool that everyone sourcer and recruiter should be using. There is a large fear of cold calling, but Stephen thinks with the right training, coaching and motivation it can be an enjoyable task. He is always open to holding cold calling listening sessions with his team so they can have their questions answered or deal with their reservations/fears head on.

Like many of us, one of Stephen’s biggest frustrations is bad data on the internet. The internet has such a wide array of resources that it is inevitable that you are going to stumble upon bad email address and bad phone numbers. But he says that by having a large amount of tools to use to validate information, you can definitely reduce your frustration. He uses Mail Testers online to validate email address or just pick up the phone and call to see who answers the phone. Going back to cold calling it is the best way to get up to date information and immediate results.

Outside of work, Stephen enjoys cooking with his wife. He loves tackling the difficult recipes for a great dinner at home with family or friends. He says it helps to get him away from the phone and away from the email for a while.

Connect with Stephen Carlson on LinkedIn.





Ask The Sourcing Dude and Dudette

13 04 2009

sourcingdudette

We’ve enlisted the help of the Master Sourcers themselves, The Sourcing Dude and the Sourcing Dudette, to answer some questions that are at the forefront of many of our minds. In each issue of The Source, they will respond to some of these questions.

If you have a pressing issue you’d like the Sourcing Dude and Dudette to answer, please email us and we will bring it to the SourceCon shrine for consideration.

“I keep hearing about Twitter, but what’s the best way for me to use it as a sourcing professional?”

Twitter is one of these new social media communication tools. It is important to remember that it is merely a communication medium and not a strategy in and of itself. It should be incorporated into your already established recruitment strategy, whatever that may be. The biggest keys to being successful in using Twitter, no matter how you choose to use it, are listening and engagement. There are several different approaches you can take to using Twitter:

Some sourcers choose to use Twitter as a learning medium. By choosing to use Twitter to learn from others, it is best to do research to find the movers and shakers in the sourcing community on Twitter, and start following them. Once you start following your sourcing colleagues, engage them in conversation. Listen FIRST, then add to the conversation. The more you listen, the more you will learn.

If you choose to use Twitter as a tool with which to find potential candidates, you’ll need to do specific keyword searches in order to find your target audience. I don’t recommend immediately bombarding your target audience with all the positions for which you are sourcing that you think they’d be perfect for. This will turn them off to making a true connection with you. Like with your recruiting connections, engage them in conversation. Listen to what their interests are, help them out by answering some questions, and develop relationships. The better your relationships with your potential candidates, the more likely they will be to either discuss your open positions or recommend some colleagues.

Finally, if you are considering using Twitter from a business development standpoint, make sure you maintain a balance between promoting your company and being real. If all you do is promote, promote, promote, you will most likely turn people off. Provide added value to your audience, and once again, engage in real conversation. Your audience wants to know that there is a real human being behind that Twitter account. Know you are real will make them more likely to do business with you.

 

 

Make sure you follow the Sourcing Dude (and Dudette!) on Twitter as well: @SourceConDude





Oursourcing – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

13 04 2009

You may or may not have attempted to outsource work in the past. You may or may not have experienced success with it if you did. The fact is, there are thousands of outsourcing companies ready to take work off your hands and hundreds more popping up each month. There are varying levels of quality and not all specialize in every kind of work or task.

We have 30 years experience with recruiting/sourcing and have done it in house as well as off shore. I’d be happy to share more details about specific things that worked and didn’t work in both scenarios. Just shoot me an email and we can schedule some time to talk. (amanda.blazo@senteglobal.com)

The most important thing to know about outsourcing is that it’s not just about cutting costs. In fact, outsourcing can increase costs if you don’t have the right partner and the right processes in place. You must do your due diligence in finding out which firms are good at which tasks. If you want to outsource research/sourcing/recruiting tasks, don’t partner with a firm who specializes in help desk calls just because they are big and cheap. Trust me. Find a partner who specializes in what you want done. If you have multiple kinds of tasks to outsource, you may be better off choosing multiple firms. And always, always ask for and check references before you sign that contract.

What is the one thing that can ensure an outsourcing project fails? Lack of communication. It’s just that simple. If you don’t express concerns to your outsourcing partner as they arise, how can they fix the problems? And there will be problems along the way. Just like there would be problems if you hired someone internally to do the work. Nothing is perfect. But if you practice open and honest communication on a regular basis, you’ll see issues get resolved quickly. Don’t be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. Offshore agents want to do a good job and they want to feel like they are participating in the success of your business. So if they screw up, let them know and coach them on what they can do better next time.

Be sure there are realistic and measurable goals in place before the project starts. You need to know what the ultimate expected outcome of this work is, then work backwards to set goals. These goals should increase as the project progresses since the agents should constantly be learning and growing and getting better at what they do.

You need to have someone internally who can dedicate some time to “managing the process”. Your outsourcing partner should provide the day to day management of the agents but you need someone internally who is making sure the results are being utilized daily. For our firm, we use someone who did research/sourcing for us internally and has 9+ years experience with it. She manages multiple agents for multiple divisions, makes sure the recruiters are using the data the off shore agents find, and tracking ROI. If the results aren’t being utilized daily, you will never be able to show value or ROI.

Recruiters are usually fans of outsourcing the research/sourcing, database maintenance and administrative functions because that frees up their time to be on the phone and making more money. But how do current researchers/sourcers feel about outsourcing these functions? Usually they feel threatened. There is a sense that by outsourcing these functions they are going to work themselves out of a job. However, these folks should never feel threatened by outsourcing these tasks. In fact, outsourcing these tasks allows these folks to increase ROI for the company they work for, increase productivity for the recruiters they support, and gain valuable training and management skills they may or may not already possess. Someone still needs to manage the process and who better to do that than the experts who know exactly what needs to be done?

In this now global economy, off shoring isn’t going to go away. Don’t fight it. Embrace it and learn how it may be able to help you advance your own career. I did and I couldn’t be happier with that choice.

 

 

Amanda Blazo is the Business Analyst for Govig & Associates which is the number 1 office in Management Recruiters International. Amanda manages the two off shore internet research/recruiting firms that support Govig & Associates as well as many other external clients. She supports both voice recruiting and internet research agents in Manila, Philippines and Mumbai, India. Amanda is passionate about her work and strongly believes in professional networking to help build her client’s businesses.





March 2009 Newsletter Available For Download

11 04 2009

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