It’s no secret that, for a while now, those in charge of hiring have been using a lot more than just an applicant’s resume to figure out if they will be the best hire. Applicants, especially those of the younger generation, have been cautioned over and over about what they post online because it can all be seen and judged by the HR manager with just a few mouse clicks. Because while you might have graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, that Facebook post of you doing a bong hit with a beer can pyramid in the background freshman year tends to send the wrong message to the person who’s trying to figure out if you’ll be a productive part of the team.
As part of our recent two-part series, “The 7 secrets of a successful job hunter” (published July 24 and July 31), Steve Peglar, Senior Vice President of WhitneySmith Company, a full-service human resources consulting firm based in Fort Worth, shared his thoughts on just how much influence our online presence has in terms of our becoming gainfully employed. “Social media profiles are absolutely essential for a majority of occupations today,” said Peglar. “In fact, the LinkedIn profile appears to be replacing the traditional resume for many recruiters and HR professionals.” That and Peglar’s other comment in that article about cover letters (“I personally believe that cover letters are, at the very least, highly overrated, and often may almost be unnecessary.”) got me to thinking, if cover letters aren’t even given a glance any longer, what about resumes?
The new reality
Nelson Wang, author of the book The Resume is Dead, tells the story of Matt Epstein, a typical job applicant, in a recent LinkedIn post: “One summer day, Matt Epstein applied to 20 different companies on LinkedIn to find work. He waited. And waited. He never heard back a single response.” As panic began to swell in his body, something else managed to wiggle its way into Epstein’s brain. He realized that he was just one of the masses, just a number in the way he was applying for a job. His solution? To be bold, different, funny, offbeat. In sum, to stand out from the rest. He created a video resume entitled “Google Please Hire Me.” Wang listed the results in that same LinkedIn post:
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-Received 80 interview offers from companies like Google, Salesforce.com, Microsoft, Amazon, Etsy and SigFig (among many more)
-Received over 400,000 unique visits and 720,000 page views for his website
-Received 36,000 percent increase in visitor traffic for his personal blog
-Received over 450,000 YouTube views
-Received 20,000 Facebook Likes, 4,800 Tweets and 4,100 Google +’s
-Received over 3,300 new Twitter followers
-Received over 20 offers to monetize his brand/viral success
-Received over 550 LinkedIn requests and e-mails
-Received and personally responded to over 2,000 e-mails from people all across the world thanking him, wishing him luck and giving him words of encouragement
-Received print, online and TV coverage across the world. From TV news appearances in Atlanta and San Francisco to online news articles in TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Hacker News, UOL (the biggest newspaper in Brazil), Sueddeutsche (a big newspaper in Germany) all the way to Social Media Berlin where he’ll be used as a social media case study. There’s literally dozens upon dozens of other articles and interviews as well (Washington Post, Wall Street Journal)
Granted Epstein was trying to get a marketing job at Google, which is a creative gig at a company that values creativity and utilizing the power of social media to create results. But could, and will, the same type of thinking beyond the typical resume allow the rest of us to snag the job that we want in any industry?
Beyond the traditional resume
So should you delete your current resume and get started working on some YouTube video? No. Hold on to your resume and keep it updated. While they aren’t going away anytime soon, resumes have and will continue to evolve. Once you have your resume ready, then it’s time to focus on one word that, once upon a time, was two: LinkedIn.
A recent Jobvite study found that 93 percent of recruiters look at LinkedIn profiles of potential job candidates. And don’t forget about your profiles and posts on other social media platforms; recruiters use them as well when looking for new hires. According to that same Jobvite study, 55 percent are using Facebook, 47 percent are using Twitter, and even three percent are using Snapchat. While these numbers will probably increase over the years, let’s focus on the current big daddy of the professional world online here, LinkedIn, to make sure that we’re getting the most out of it in all phases of our professional lives.
Robin Reshwan, founder of Collegial Services, a consulting/staffing firm that connects college students, recent graduates and the organizations that hire them, had a few great suggestions in a recent US News & World Report article. First, for students, Reshwan suggests accessing the education section of LinkedIn. “Hidden under the Interests drop-down menu, Education enables you to explore different colleges and universities. You can check out rankings by career focus. For example, want to be an accountant? Villanova University leads the list for new graduates who land accounting jobs after receiving a degree in accounting. You can investigate different career paths and review the roles graduates have taken after college. You can even keep of track of your interests for future deliberation and research,” Reshwan said. Second, if you’re looking for a promotion, Reshwan suggests using LinkedIn to search for jobs similar to yours and look at the responsibilities/accomplishments of those people. “When you review the duties and responsibilities of others, you have an excellent list of new responsibilities or increased value you can add to your employer. By suggesting additional ways to contribute that are on trend professionally for your industry, you add a new dimension to your work and you have made it easy for your manager to increase her overall team contribution,” Reshwan said. Finally, if you’re changing to a whole new career, which can seem like a Herculean task, use LinkedIn to find old connections that might be in that new industry. “Employing a strategic approach by leveraging LinkedIn to reconnect and explore can make a tough experience more manageable and boost the results,” said Reshwan.