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Are you a Mid-to-Senior Level Professional working in the "Tech Sector" trying to find a new job, but need to "fly under the radar" so your employer doesn't find out? Are you trying to avoid publicizing your resume for fear of being over-whelmed by the countless amount of emails and calls from recruiters trying to talk you into a opening that doesn't fit? If you answered yes to one or both of those questions then I may have a solution for you!
The strategies I'm proposing are proven effective for individuals wanting to conduct a highly confidential job search to try and move in-between or upward into a technical or managerial position where discretion is important. The strategies I'm specifically referring to is Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc...). I understand most people know how to use these tools already, but I can assure you there is an incredible amount of things these tools can do for your job search that you can't even begin to imagine! Take it from someone who over the last couple years has dedicated themselves to really understanding how to use Social Media for my job. The only boundary Social Media has is the limits of your creativity!
Why is a Job Search Different for Technology Professionals Then Other Professions?
So there are a couple of reasons I really wanted to focuse this blog on professionals working in the Tech Industry. For one, I have spent the majority of my professional work life recruiting, evaluating and hiring Information Technology skill sets so I have a very good understanding of the importance that their abilities and talents directly have on an organization. Therefore I have some specific job search strategies that someone working in technology can leverage to best market themselves. The second and most important reason I wanted to reach out specifically to technology people and folks in management is that their search is very specific and focused, thus making it different and in most cases more difficult.
Believe it or not conducting a search when you are employed is far more difficult than when you are a "free agent" or in between jobs. The reason is when you are employed in most instances, you don't want your current employer to know you are looking. This means you don't have the ability to advertise out to the "free world" that you are looking for a new job for fear of consequences you could face if your employer finds out. The second problem with looking for a job when you are working is the lack of flexibility to interview. In fact having initial conversations with potential employers to do initial inquires are even difficult during business hours when you are working.
Due to the nature of work and the level of difficulties that technical professionals possess make them attractive to many potential employers out there. The training IT people have to endure is intense and very expensive, so if an employer can hire someone who already owns those skills without having to pay for it makes that person attractive to a company. With that said technical people have many opportunities which on the surface sounds great, but if you dig deeper this could be a negative because a lot of these opportunities may not be a good fit at all. For any of us who have taken the wrong job, that could prove to be a disaster. Hence this is a great transition to the main focus of my article, how to leverage Social Media to conduct a confidential job search.
CREATE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND USING SOCIAL MEDIA
Earlier in this article I teased you mentioning the amazing things Social Media can do for your job search, especially when you are trying to "fly under the radar". Social Media really is an incredible gift technology has given us, you can be anywhere in the world and at the touch of your fingertips communicate anything you want and access any information you want. Best of all its free!!!
One thing to keep in mind is that freedom comes with a price. Just as you have the ability to communicate anything you want and research anything you want at the the touch of your finger tips, everyone else also has that power. That is why the first thing you need to do which is what I consider to be the most critical when getting onto Social Media, establish credibility!! You not only want people to take you serious from a professional perspective, but you want them to believe that you have some level of expertise in at least one if not many subject areas. If you can't do this, then there is no amount of technology that will help your job search. The best way to accomplish this is to develop a strong professional brand for yourself that will create "buzz".
When I talk about "buzz" I'm referring to things about your professional background that will make people "stand up and take notice" wanting to know more about you. The way to do that is through your special milestones you have accomplished on the job. As a recruiter one of my "pet peeves" is to see someone take the time to put a profile on Linkedin or Twitter, especially Linkedin and just list your jobs you worked at with maybe a short bullet list of your daily task; "BORING". Being someone in the profession hiring for my job openings, I use social media a lot to find people. If someone doesn't excite me with how they made a difference at their organizations and what they accomplished, I will not give them a 2nd look let alone reach out to them to learn more.
First step, take a note book or type somewhere on your computer where you can make a list of neat things you accomplished job by job. Speak about special projects you were involved with, the role you took on those projects and how they made your department or company better for this accomplishment. Another key thing to cover for technology people is talk about the technology you used and relate it to how it served the business purposes. Some examples might be (task you did to reduce cost/increase revenue/processes you implemented to drive better efficiency). These functions "scream" you are a potentially valuable employee to a future employer.
Target your Search Through Research
Now that your professional branding is created and you have some credibility behind you which will drive people to your profile through key word searches, this is where your search on social media begins. That beginning starts with you identifying organizations that you want to work for. You are working and you have skills that are attractive to many employers, so I beg of you please be selective of where you choose to work for your next place of employment. Take it from someone who has made this mistake in the past, you are better to be mildly miserable at your current employer then to take a risk going to a new company and taking on a role you are not 100% sure is the right move.
What I mean by that is you have built up credibility and tenure at your current company, if you give that up for a new job you are unsure about and it turns out bad that could be a very nasty situation. At least with your current job you should have some flexibility since you have proven your credibility. At a new job you have to prove yourself all over again meaning lack of flexibility to look for a new job if things turn "sour". Now that I have your attention, this is where you want to take your time and figure out the best company to make your next move to. You want to take into account factors that are important to you such as industry preference, company size, initiatives they are involved with that might match up with things you want to do in your career and most important, their reputation with their customers and how they treat employees. Luckily with Social Media which again I stress is free, this information is very easy to obtain and the accuracy of the information is very easy to confirm.
The two tools I think you get the most "bang for your buck" meaning allocation of your time is LinkedIn and Glass Door. First LinkedIn, you can search company profiles and employee profiles to see all company history and the backgrounds of key personnel who run that organization. This is where you can get a first glance to see if the projects they are working on match your skills and things you want to do. Also you look to see if the backgrounds of the people working their share common backgrounds and interest to you. This is the first and most important indicator if this is a possible organization that is right for you. I also mentioned a tool called Glass Door, this is basically Yelp for Companies. Employees can go to Glass Door on strictly a confidential basis and post their true experiences and feelings about working at a company without fear of having their identity discovered. This is where you can learn about specific examples of how a company treats their employees and sure you have to take this information with a "grain of salt", but I have found it to be very accurate especially if comments are in a majority fashion sway one way or the other. If you have 10 people within a year or so time frame saying negative or positive comments about a company and they have worked in various areas of the organization, its safe to say that is probably a trend you will find to be true.
"Let the Networking Begin"
Ok, you have completed your thorough preparation of short listing some organizations you want to work at that match your values. You have also created a very attractive profile so those companies can gain an awareness of you and see if you match what they look for in an employee. Now you are ready to take the plunge and let those companies know you are interested, "let the networking begin".
Networking, this is where a lot of job seekers make their biggest mistakes. Most people think networking is connecting with others to ask for a job directly. True networking is more passive and less aggressive and is one of those situations where "less is more". Yes you do want to reach out and connect with people who share your same skills or work for a company you are looking to possibly work at, but it is for information purposes only with advertising yourself through intelligent questions is a "byproduct". Reaching out to others should be for the purpose of learning what they like about the company, initiatives they are working on that they enjoy, things they feel the company could improve on and last advice seeking.
People are more likely to answer your invitation and be open to speaking with you if you let them know you are seeking their advice or want to do information sharing. It is ok to say once you have established some credibility with the people you are reaching out to "look I'm looking to potentially make a move from my organization but I want to seek your advice on some places that you feel would be best for me to perform certain types of work". "I notice you are doing some similar things to what I have done, what do you like about your organization". This tactic will get you much further with people because all you are asking them for is information as opposed to a job. Also they gain respect for you because you are coming off as someone who is thought provoking and very serious about a job change as vs. someone just desperate to find a job.
Another way to get yourself known as an expert in your field is joining professional groups in LinkedIn and Meetup in your areas of expertise and post useful information and questions. This is a great way to get yourself known in the industry and advertise your knowledge.