Founder, Career Enlightenment LLC
Joshua Waldman, the author of Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies, is recognized as one of the top authorities on Social Media Job Search. The founder of Career Enlightenment recently sat down to chat with us about job interviews, effective resumes, personal branding, and the elements of a social media profile that help you stand out from the crowd.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. When and why did you decide to concentrate on helping other people find jobs?
I got laid off for the second time in 2009 and was just tired of getting pushed around. The advice for finding a job that I was getting didn’t work and made me feel inauthentic. I knew I had a strong LinkedIn network and kept up with people well. My profile was up to date and I was tired of handing my resume out to people and not hearing back. So I decided to use my experience as an experiment. What if I did the job search the way I thought it should work?
And it was amazing! I found myself in interviews within a week of networking on social media. Over time, I’d documented many of my winning strategies and found myself offering advice to other job seekers along the way. At some point, a local networking group asked me to speak on the topic, and I found myself really enjoying the teaching role. I didn’t expect to like it. But there it is. It was at that point I decided to try to make a go out of it and started Career Enlightenment.
Your profile is a chance to tell a story with one singular goal: to generate enough curiosity in your reader about who you are that he or she is compelled to contact you.
What separates an outstanding LinkedIn profile from an average one?
When you understand that the medium itself is the message, just as Marshall McLuhan said in the 1960s, then you realize that your profile is not at all the same thing as an online resume. For one, it is read on a screen and people scan screens. So using lots of short sentences and bullets is key. For another, a social profile is an online avatar for another person; therefore, it should be written like you’re talking with someone face-to-face over coffee. (Forget about the terrible resume-speak!) Your profile is a chance to tell a story with one singular goal: to generate enough curiosity in your reader about who you are that he or she is compelled to contact you.
Are there other social media sites besides LinkedIn where job seekers should be looking for employment opportunities?
Yes. But that depends on the job. Designers should be all over Instagram, for example. There are networks for teachers or finance professionals.
On a separate note, don’t underestimate Facebook. If most referrals come from friends and family, then it makes sense to focus on a network filled with, well, your friends and your family. Let your Facebook friends hear about your job search struggles, and share with them your professional interests. And don't forget to ask for referrals.
How can a person's overall social media presence be a hindrance to his or her job prospects?
I feel that this topic has been well overplayed. If you don’t know that what you post can turn around and bite you in the neck, then you probably shouldn’t have a job that requires the use of a computer. There are hundreds of court cases with people trying to sue their employers for firing them over stupid social media posts – and employees lose 90% of those cases.
Everything you post can be used in a court of law. That’s all you need to know in order to make informed choices about what you should or shouldn’t post.
If a first-time job seeker were to say to you, "I don't need to waste time on personal branding since I don't have any career experience yet," how might you respond?
Personal branding has nothing to do with your past experience. It’s simply what you want people to remember about you after you’ve left the room or after they’ve read your online profile. Even first-time job seekers have values, skills, interests, and goals. Personal branding is just a way to align those things with a possible future boss. I’ve even heard stories of students getting highly competitive internships on nothing more than sharing their interest in building guitars.
What types of information are first-time job seekers failing to put on their resumes and online job search profiles that they should be including?
Any kind of success can become part of your story, even if you think it doesn’t apply. For instance, that time you organized a fundraiser and beat a goal for a non-profit? This demonstrates leadership skills, being goal-oriented, and more. Dig deep into your past experience and show as much as you can. Turn your stories into reasons why you’re going to outperform someone else also applying for this job.
Finally, when it comes to job applicants asking questions during an interview, what is your philosophy?
One thing to remember is that the interviewer will remember the questions you ask them, not the questions they ask you. So ask questions about training, management style, or opportunities for mentorship and growth. Let the interviewer know from your questions how motivated you are.
Need more advice about interviews, resumes, and online profiles? Give Vocate a try today!