Master Career Counselor

Carla Hunter, President of Career Span, Inc. is a Master Career Counselor (MCC) by the National Career Development Association and a Certified Career Coach by the National Board for Certified Counselors. She is an expert in writing resumes, effective job search strategies and interviewing success. Most recently, with over 20 years of navigating the complexity of today's world of work, she published "Finding Your Place in the World of Work", a career interest inventory (2014) and CareerView, an iPad app. As a private practice career counselor and a workforce development consultant, this blog is Carla's trove of ideas, trends, forecasts, and career tips for finding meaningful work.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Power of Twitter and Social Media

Hello.  My name is Carla and I'm a twitter-holic.

My first gulp of it was not all that great.  Micro-blogging initially appeared a waste of time and energy.  What could I possibly say of value in 140 characters? Twitter seemed irrelevant.  I was sorely deceived.

After having an inactive Twitter account for several years, I committed to learning its value as my new year's resolution. I had tweeted 25 times in three years and had 99 followers. I began by searching for people like me and watching my preferred news feeds.

The hook occurred on January 8th when I watched my twitter news feed relay tweets of Rep. Giffords' shooting. In angst, I ran to the TV to watch and no news station reported it at the time Twitter did. The power of this tool became obvious.

Through trial and error, I discovered the power of a hash tag (#) and the multitude of experts that tiny character unveiled.  #Hash tags led me to people, ideas and knowledge that I care about and want to learn.

Here are lessons I learned that engaged me most with Twitter:

1.  Be real, engaging and consistent.  This means putting a thoughtful bio and picture on your account. I spend at least an hour a day with it in spurts and realize that I get what I put into it.

2. Use a Twitter directory to discover people that share your interests. Place yourself in the directory for people to find you.

I use Twellow:

3.  Build your Twitter from the moment you open your account with at least two tweets a day.  People are on Twitter all day and night so don't worry about the timing. Just tweet.  

Tweet quotes that are meaningful to you. 

Tweet news articles you find interesting.

Tweet blog posts you enjoy.

One of my favorite Twitter users is Lolly Daskal.  She's an author and expert on leadership.  I don't just follow her. I listen to her.  Reading her tweets is inspiring.  I also participate in a chat she facilitates on Tuesday nights.  For one hour, I watch my twitter feed explode with great insight and opinions on leadership.  It is worth your time to find a chat that interests you. Here is a link:

4.  When you follow someone, they'll have the opportunity to follow you back.  I read every follower's bio and stream of tweets to decide if I will follow them.  If they don't tweet, I don't follow.  If they don't spam I will listen until they turn me off with a constant barrage of selling or marketing.  Everyone has a chance to engage me until they start to annoy.

5. Don't get caught up on the number of people who follow you.  This is a BIG deal.  Twitter has engaged me by WHO to follow and who follows me.  I enjoy connecting to career experts, moms, coaches, entreprenuers, social media professionals and yes, my daughter Annie.   What matters on Twitter is that you listen and are listened to by people who value what you have to say. 

The first kiss: My re-tweets

There is something about putting a tweet in the twitterverse and having it re-tweeted.  A re-tweet affirms that you're saying something others want to pass along. When the re-tweeting started happening to me, it was like a first kiss that sealed my attention and effort.

Finally, the best thing about Twitter is that I have NO IDEA where it is going.  I can't speculate about the potential it has for me or my company because it can't be estimated.  What is certain is that I can't underestimate its importance.  The beauty of Twitter's power is how it harnesses one short blurb that can topple a government or change the way I think. It is @awesome.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Best Employer Frequency To Find a Job

Today as the competition is fierce and only getting fiercer with a tight job market, I have an illustration for you to consider.

Imagine you are driving in the car and listening to your favorite radio station. It plays the music genre you prefer and it is the only station you listen to on a drive. But, is it the only station out there?

People treat seeking employment the same way. They tune in to their most preferred genre of finding and applying for jobs in one of the following ways:

Job boards

Newpaper ads

Trade journal openings

Online web crawlers like Indeed or Simply Hired.

The stark reality is that employers have veered away from most (but not all) of the above and are on another frequency. You can tell this by job seeker frustration:

"I've applied online to 99 jobs this week alone and haven't heard back from one."

"I keep seeing the same job posted every week in a recycled fashion. Why are they not interviewing me?"

As a jobseeker, you have to crank it up a notch and migrate to the station where employers advertise their openings.

Their station is simple: their current employees are the frequency used to refer potential candidates for the position which likely lessens the risks involved in a new hire.

In discussing this strategy with someone who does it, I understand their reasoning and logic:

1. Our new hire is referred by someone we value and know.

2. By seeking the candidate from an internal search, we minimize the public response to an opening which could be overwhelming (think hundreds of responses to one opening).

3. We are likely to retain the person because they were referred by someone who knows our culture.

4. We have more success this way since jobseekers have become adept at interviewing but poor at the actual job.

Re-read #4.  That is the major reason employers are emphasizing new hires from current staff.   A decision-maker of one organization told me that this strategy has reduced turnover and saved money.

If you respond to an opening you see on the Internet or anywhere else it is a REACTIVE mode. That means you are in a battle for attention with many others. Your struggle becomes one of how to differentiate yourself from the pack.
If you hear of an opening from a contact, friend, colleague, etc. that works for the company you have an intentional opportunity to get an interview. The likelihood of your success is much, much higher.

All of this to say you must consider the following strategies for a successful job hunt:

1. Get out of your house and mingle every single day with people through lunches, coffee, networking events and opportunities for interaction.  Don't let one day go by without seeing other people in some way.

2. Limit the time you spend to only 15% of your day on the computer. The rest of it should be spent with others in some capacity. Think creatively on ways to interact and be seen.

3. Volunteer your time to your community. Build a house with Habitat, tutor a child at school, walk the dogs at the animal shelter and help in any way possible.

4. Always follow up. It is one of the most critical tasks you will do in the search. It shows you are serious.

Tune in to where the employers are or you will have a very long search in front of you. As long as it is their market, they have dibs on being tight with their choices. The difference for you will be what steps you take to land on their radar.  The best and most effective way is for their employee to recommend you for an interview.  The other alternative plays music you might not want to hear.