So I had decided that I was going to leave the Army and many people had said to me ‘Network as much as you can’ when it comes to finding employment. Well, I kind of knew that but how?! Did they mean knocking on Companies doors with CV in hand….Well, possibly but this is how I viewed it. We live in a digital age and employers are so easily accessible these days, how is best to promote yourself to these Companies/Organisations without spending a fortune…?
So where to start? The first place I suggest you start is Linked In. This is a professional networking site where you can connect with people you know professionally. It is free, it’s very easy to build a profile if you have a CV concocted already (it will take a little bit of time if not) and all you need to get going is an email address. Linked In then allows you to give a Employment Title, a personal statement, your employment history and it allows you to showcase any qualification/key skills that you have. You can also give and receive online recommendations from people you have worked or trained with. This site also has Groups for like minded people, allows you to follow individual Companies you have an interest in, advertises jobs to suit your profession/location and gives you the opportunity to ‘Update your Status’ to let people know what you have been up to Professionally. There is also the option to upgrade your account which gives you a lot more access to other peoples profiles, you can see the salary of the jobs advertised and it lets you see (in full) who has looked at your profile. This website is very, very good and allows you to completely separate your personal and professional life online which is VERY important when job searching these days. There are tons more benefits to having an account on here and one that I have personally taken advantage of is putting the link to my Linked In account on the top of my CV, therefore allowing future employers see a full, in depth, extended profile of me!
The next thing is make a professional Twitter profile….Now, I know a lot of people out there have tried Twitter in the past and have said ‘I just don’t get it’ or ‘it’s not for me’ but trust me, there is so much going on, on there at the minute that you simply cannot afford not to have an account. Like Linked in, its free and all you need is an email to start. Lots and lots of Companies now advertise jobs via their Twitter accounts as do Recruitment Agencies, you can keep abreast of any recent developments within your chosen profession and you can also follow training providers to see what courses they are running – I’ve even seen Courses advertised at reduced rates due to lack of attendance. Take the opportunity on Twitter to advertise yourself by uploading a good head and shoulders profile pic (nobody likes to follow an egg) and write a short, sharp and effective bio. Also on your bio add a link to your Linked In profile, that way anyone that is interested in what you tweet can then be wowed by your amazing Linked In profile!!
The next one is Community Sites – These are sites that are run by particular Companies or Organisations for their delegates and clients. An example of this is as follows: I am enrolled on a CIPD Human Resources qualification that is being run by a Training Provider called Development Processes Group. They have a Community site where people that are undertaking their training can come together and chat, blog, share experiences and generally network….I’m sure there will be some discussion about the courses too eventually but it’s a great environment where engaged professionals can come together informally. A big thing that they hold on these Community sites too are Webinars – Online seminars about a particular subject and you can contribute as much or as little as you like, free, low stress and extremely educational.
Another thing that I have found useful is to make an about.me profile. This is just a webpage about you! You can choose your own background, font, colour of text, size of text, upload a picture and write a small bio. You can imput where you have been educated or trained and also put links on there to websites of your choices. The main thing I have found this handy for is housing all my professional networking profiles under one roof so to speak as from here people can access my Linked In profile, professional twitter account and my blog. This one I would say isn’t necessary but is more of a nice to have! Definitely worth a look, especially with the death of the CV looming – be creative and set yourself apart from the crowds!
Now, just let me stress to you that simply having these profiles is not enough…You have to go on your accounts regularly and be active within groups, conversations and forums. For example. One week I didn’t go on my Linked In account at all and I received around 3 views to my profile, the following few weeks I was on there around an hour a day and my profile received over 50 views. Don’t fear online networking, most platforms have an Android or Apple application which makes it easier to access – make it work for you and as long as you allow time for your Networking you will be successful at it!