The long term unemployed need to start thinking like a teenager if they’re going to stay relevant in today’s job market. What does that mean? By now, most job seekers know about the importance of personal branding and managing their online presence. What about using social media platforms for job search? In addition to being a platform to showcase your expertise, social channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook are excellent resources for information about jobs, employment, and careers.
I met up with social media guru and author of the acclaimed book, The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing, Beverly Macy, to learn what she tells the over 40 and 50 crowd on how to use social media to build their personal brand in order to find a job. We need to start looking at ourselves the same way Coca Cola and Xerox look at their brand messaging…as the sum total of a customers’ experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot. I joke with Beverly when we met for lunch in New York that my 13-year-old daughter could teach Social Networking 101. She said that’s no joke!
Not so for many middle-aged jobseekers who she says are woefully behind the times when it comes to embracing social media, but they’re not alone. She spends a good part of her time traveling around the country teaching fortune 100 companies ways to be more social too.
“What I try to help people understand is that social media platforms are simply tools like any other tool that help us communicate, connect and transact,” said Beverly. “Many jobseekers, excluding recent college graduates who are desperately feeling the ill effects of the job market, don’t realize that corporations use social media to find talent every day. HR professionals are using tools like LinkedIn to find new employees. They attend conferences to learn how to better use these tools to find people like you, so you’d better learn how to get on their radar screen.”
I’ve noticed there is a marked divide between people who have taken the time to learn how to use social media and people who have dug in their heels and written off social media as a passing fad. Whatever mythology you adhere to, believe me when I say the social networking ship has left the dock: if you aren’t onboard you will be left behind in ways that could set you back months if not years in executing a successful job search. In this market that’s the kiss of death.
I had a chance to see firsthand the confusion and consternation social media can cause for the most sophisticated of audiences and users. I attended a presentation Beverly gave at the St. Regis in Manhattan to a large California bank with a sizable presence in New York City. The bank had invited its most important customers—wealth managers, attorneys, and client agents—to learn more about how small and large companies are leveraging social media to improve the bottom line.
I could tell by the questions after the presentation that the whole concept of social media—the concept of someone tweeting five times a day about who their favorite singer was or where they had their nails done—was still a foreign if not banal concept, but Beverly took it in stride. She kept hammering home the message that people need to realize these platforms are about giving a company or a customer a competitive edge with their ability to share, search, interact, push things around in new ways, and that this kind of human interaction is never going away.
Today a customer can tweet a complaint to a company in real time and that company can fix the problem on the spot, if it so chooses, more than likely keeping that person as a customer for life. What’s more amazing, marketers can take advantage of all these innovative ways to meet and exceed market demands Beverly is talking about using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other sites—all for free!
I asked Beverly how many people she thought understood the real power of social media. “I would go as far as to say that less than 20 percent of people over 50 who now find themselves out of work have an understanding of what social media is or how to use it to help them find their next job. It’s terrible.”
In addition to her speaking engagements, Beverly teaches an extension course in social media marketing at UCLA. She says many of her students will say to her in private that they’re scared about learning social media because it’s like everyone is speaking a new language.
I ask her, ‘what do you tell them?’
“I say, ‘That’s because they are speaking a new language. So congratulations to you for being here. This is your first step on the road to RELEVANCY!”
Dwain Schenck is author of RESET, How to Beat the Job-Loss Blues, and Get Ready for Your Next Act. He is retained by corporations and nonprofit organizations as a communications consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com