Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Job seekers: All you ever need to know about ranking high on LinkedIn Skill searches

Job seekers: All you ever need to know about ranking #1 on LinkedIn people searches...

or alternate title: How to become mayor of fantasy land.

Yep, I totally snookered you with a bait and switch here.  The reality is there will never be a single post that tells you everything you need to know about coming up on the first page of an employer's search results on LinkedIn.  Every time someone thinks they have mastered it, LI changes the game and we all start over.  Please be wary of any so-called expert who says that they can teach you everything in one session/article/training.  It's so much more complex than that!  However, there are ways that you can help improve your chances of ranking higher on searches and we're going to break those down.  But, allow me to digress and first answer the "who cares" question some of you non "LinkedIn junkies" might be thinking.

Why do search rankings matter?  Let's face it.  The market is filled with smart professionals looking for work.  Especially in a market like this where supply of workers has outpaced the demand for workers, you want to show up on the FIRST PAGE of any employer search.  I promise you that unless the employer is looking for the proverbial purple squirrel, they will not go to page 20 of the results to browse if they find the candidates that they need on pages 1-5.  As a result, if you give no thinking to your search results on LinkedIn (or job boards or Bing or Facebook or whatever else you use online), chances are that your search result ranking will be less than desirable.  Bottom line: You want to own the results when it comes to employers looking for people in your skill set.

Now on to the things that you should be thinking about for your LI strategy to help improve your LI rankings:

1) Understand that LI search results are a living thing.  LinkedIn is very cagey (imho) about detailing how they deliver search results.  How the results are ranked, what pieces of a profile have the most importance and when/how does that information change are all important.  However, their search algorithm seems to be a more closely guarded secret than how Donald Trump gets his hair to do that thing it does.  Regardless, a savvy job seeker is going to keep his/her ear to the ground and pay attention when others start to do new things on their profile that look like they have the potential to impact search results.  Which brings me to...

2) Add skills to your profile.  The LI skills section of a profile is relatively new offering but it's one that I think is having an impact on the search results.  However, I don't think it's just the skills being added but also the endorsements that will play a part in positively impacting search results.  Consider adding skills to your profile today.  Then go out and ask for endorsements after you have endorsed others.

3) Realize that LI is for networking...and add connections!  Regardless of what pretty things you put into and on your profile, you have to be connected to other people on LI.  LinkedIn absolutely works on the premise of six degrees of separation.  So, the more humans you are connected with, then the more humans you can be found by.  Get it?  Ok, in other words, if you want to come up on more searches, then be connected to more people.  However, it can't just be about 1st degree connections because at some point, you are going to run out of people that you remember you know.  So, to circumvent that problem, you can meet new people in the...

4) LinkedIn Groups.  LinkedIn lets you join a large number of groups and you absolutely should.  Not only are you indirectly connected to everyone else in a group you join (thereby increasing your network with one click) but it also gives you the opportunity to interact and engage with more humans on a personal level.  You don't have to know someone in person to know them people-it's a global economy!  So get in the groups (lots of them) and begin to engage.

5) Keep an eye on your network size.  There are many other solid suggestions for helping positively impact search results that I have ranted about..er, I mean blogged about over the years such as having keyword rich summaries, job titles, job descriptions and recommendations.  These all still apply.  However, it bears repeating: regardless of what pretty things you put on a profile, you still have to be connected to lots of people directly (1st degree connections) and indirectly (2nd/3rd degree connections and groups) for LI to work at it's most effective level.  As you sign in to LI, you'll notice a little box over to the right with Network Size:

I don't know that anyone can quantify a good number here, but if you notice that your network size is itty bitty compared to the overall number (175M users as of July 2012) on LinkedIn, it's probably time to think about expanding your web of influence there.

Allow me to wrap up this rant with my bottom line:  Hiring Managers and Recruiters are increasingly dependent on web results to find candidates.  The days of paper resumes are gone and now smart job seekers want...nay, need to be found by a variety of potential employers electronically.  LinkedIn plays a big part in that result and today's economy requires that you be smarter, better and faster than your competitors when it comes to using LinkedIn.  Good luck and happy hunting.

Friday, October 19, 2012

No job? Be a mechanical turk

My husband and I were watching a show last night that I highly recommend, Lost Magic Decoded on the History Channel.  One of the things that they showed was an illusion called The Turk where a machine a couple hundred years old plays and ultimately beats a Master at Chess.

Of course I had to immediately jump on Bing to decode the mystery (because The History Channnel sure didn't do it for me) and I was reminded of Amazon's version of The Turk, The Amazon Mechanical Turk where organizations both large and small can outsource small pieces of work to the public.  Amazon isn't the only player in this game.  You can also find this type of arrangement on ODesk and Elance as well as many other reputable sites.

So, why am I telling you about these?  Well, it's unlikely that you will ever earn enough from one of these sites exclusively to make a living of any sort, but they are ideal for keeping existing skills sharp, learning new skills, keeping busy or just being productive.  And as NBC recently reported, "slasher careers" are on the rise as we all try to find ways to be more efficient, effective and successful in today's increasingly fragmented world. 

Bottom line is this...for the average worker, you probably won't pay for your new Mercedes with these little piecemeal jobs, but if it gives you a little more peace knowing that you have completed a job well, then it's worth it to check out.  Good luck and happy hunting.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Are U a lazy networker?

I read this awesome article this week by Miriam Salpeter whose advice is always on the money: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2012/08/29/how-not-to-ask-for-help-with-your-job-hunt and it reminded me of the "text series" I received recently from a friend of a friend who was trying to network with me.

Now, I say "text series" because this young man basically wrote a novella in text form peppering me with info and questions.  I was so underwhelmed by the general laziness of his outreach that I found myself unexcited about doing anything for him.  Which begs the question...if you aren't getting response from your outreach is it because your approach is too damn lazy?

Before you get on your high horse of generational differences in communication, let me say that evne though I am not in that high texting demographic of 13-22, I am a textaholic.  Without texting, some of my friends would never hear from me.  However, in this case, this job seeker majorly missed the mark with me.  When reaching out to someone for help, advice, contacts, etc it is NEVER appropriate to make your initial outreach something so informal as a text.  ALWAYS call that person first if you have been given their phone number and then follow their lead.  If they want to then text with you, great!  Text away.  However, keep your missives brief with punctuation accurate and please, oh please, do not give me text speak.  U know wht I mean, K?

Bottom line is this.  You will never miss out on a job opportunity because you were polite and professional.  Once beginning communication with someone, tailor your style to theirs to fit the situation.  Follow the advice of Miriam and so many others who want you to be an appropriate and effective networker.  And unless you are planning on starting an email scam, strike the "Hello friend" opening from all of your emails.  Good luck and happy hunting.