“Looking for work is the hardest work,” goes an old adage coined in the day when “looking” meant responding to classifieds and pounding the pavement to spot help wanted signs.
But a job search is still agonizing for anyone who’s unemployed.
Two recent surveys show that the majority of people already working have incorporated job hunting into their routine, making it as regular a part of their work life as commuting or a coffee break.
The virtual world, where a myriad of sites let anyone explore opportunities as well as air their resume, makes the habitual search possible.
“Digital behavior has blurred the distinction between an active and a passive job candidate,” says Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. “They may not leave their jobs right away, but they’re keeping aware of possibilities and planning for their next career move.”
Similarly, a survey by Jobvite, a social recruiting platform, finds that about three-quarters of workers identified themselves as job seekers. Keeping track of opportunities is easy, observes Dan Finnigan, Jobvite CEO. “They [workers] can do it on their smart phone as they’re walking to get lunch.”
Here is a closer look at the hunting habit, how it may impact careers and how the unemployed must compete with the employed for positions.
The studies show most workers used a social networking site for job seeking, notably Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
“On Twitter, for instance, companies are now watching to see who is engaging in their brand; they will look to those people for hiring,” says Kathryn Minshew, CEO of The Daily Muse, a job search platform.
Moreover, companies have special Twitter feeds dedicated to broadcasting job opportunities, says Finnigan, whose company develops the Twitter accounts for employers. He advises all jobseekers to develop a wide list of companies with positions they’d be suited for, and then follow up with those firms.
Facebook is the most widely used social network according to the Jobvite survey. “Facebook is used by people as a personal social tool, but it still the most in-depth and active network,” observes Minshew.
“People should be leveraging all [sites],” adds Neal Bruce, vice president of Peoplefluent, “If you’re on Twitter following a company you can connect to them as well on Facebook.”
LinkedIn is unique in that its sole purpose is professional development, notes Nicole Williams, connection director for the site. Eighty percent of Fortune 500 firms use it for recruiting, she says.
One way to make connections that could eventually lead to a job is to follow developments in your industry, adds Williams. “You could, for instance, send a message to someone saying that, ‘I read your article in an industry publication and found it interesting.’”
It may be easier to build a relationship when you’re already working, “Since the [person you’re contacting] knows you have a job and aren’t asking for one,” Williams says.
One way for the unemployed people to burnish their standing is “to volunteer with an organization that needs your skills,” says Minshew. “I know of a woman who designed a website and that was something current she could point to.”
For any jobseeker, employed or not, it’s crucial to be familiar with privacy settings, Finnigan warns, especially for Facebook, since that is the place where people are most likely to combine personal and professional information. But even on LinkedIn, adds Williams, “It may be beneficial to click on a privacy setting when you’re communicating with professionals outside your company.”
Companies are doing the same thing workers are by incorporating technology that tracks talent, explains Bruce, whose company provides these tracking tools.
“In the last ten years there’s been a dramatic shift in what is acceptable,” Bruce adds. “Companies once tried to see if their employees were on job sites like Monster.” Now, however, companies are also looking for new hires and don’t frown on workers who advance their professional profile, he adds.
Still, experts advise privacy settings for many communications and warn against using the Internet for a job search while at work.
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