Note: I drafted this post three months ago but never had a chance to polish it up. I’ve since replaced my “For Hire” avatar with my regular one. I took on a larger than usual client for a three-month gig, and things with HelpAttack! are really taking off, so much so that my plate is truly full. It’s a good thing!
The client job? I got that with my Twitter avatar. It absolutely worked.
I’m not the first person to write a post about how to get a job in the Era of the Interwebs, but I figured I’d share with you my own personal recipe. Feel free to bake the same cookies, add your own ingredients, share with your friends, or what have you. Times are tough, and every little bit helps.
1. Twitter campaign
I stole this idea from Rob Blatt, who is now gainfully employed at Symphony Space in New York. This is the most passive element of my job hunting campaign, and as you read above, it turned out to be the most fruitful.
It started off as a subtle tweak to my avatar. The words “for hire” posted under my smiling face. But desperate times do not call for subtlety, they call for boldness. Few people noticed or commented on the change.
I then tried blurring and fading the avatar image and letting FOR HIRE cross the entire avatar diagonally. People actually complained about that one.
I have no design skills, so I didn’t even try to do the hands.
Many many people have commented on my avatar, asking permission to use a variation of it. Of course! It’s a free country! Please steal my idea. It’s a stolen idea to begin with. For all I know, Rob stole the idea from someone else.
The important thing about this avatar tweak was to maintain the personal branding as much as possible, but alter it in a recognizable way, so that people would say to themselves “what has Sarah done to her avatar? oh, she’s looking for a job!” instead of “Whose avatar is that?” If you have a consistent avatar that you always use on Twitter, I recommend making changes to that very same avatar, so that people will make the connection between You and Job Hunting.
(Oh my god I said personal branding in a sentence! And I wasn’t being snarky! The horror.)
I should note also that this was primarily a Twitter campaign, but I put this avatar EVERYWHERE, on FriendFeed, LinkedIN, Flickr, Google Profiles, everywhere I had a public presence.
2. RSS is your Friend
You probably already know this, but maybe you don’t. RSS is your best friend when you’re job hunting. Here’s a screenshot of my RSS job feeds in Feedly:
Indeed.com, SimplyHired, Craigslist and Mashable are all good sources for job leads. There are many Twitter accounts that are devoted to linking available job positions as well, and you can add those to your RSS feed reader without actually following.
(Update – a couple of job interviews resulted from sending in resumes and cover letter cold, and a LOT of rejections came through as well. You need to develop very thick skin when you’re sending out applications. I applied to an average of 8 unique jobs a week, for a period of 7 months. None of those applications resulted in a job, and only one got me to a face-to-face interview. For the most part, though, I didn’t let that discourage me. The best part about the online job application experience, I think, was it helped me stay on top of the job market, who was hiring, how job descriptions were being written, etc.)
3. Facebook Event
An Austin friend of mine turned his job hunting campaign into a FB group. I liked that idea, but decided instead to make it an Event, for the month of July. I invited all 360+ friends of mine, and made it an open Event so anyone with a FB account could come to the “party.” Two days later and 75 people have signed up to be there. This has already yielded 3 job leads I would otherwise not have seen and 4 LinkedIN recommendations.
(Update – this turned out to be a wonderful source of support and community for me. I really appreciated having so many folks rallied around me!)
4. Kick it up on LinkedIN
I’m not great at this, but you should be. Give LinkedIN some love every day. Participate in groups there. Ask and answer questions. And remember to check the job boards. There are many companies that post jobs ONLY on LinkedIN. The more you update your presence there, the more you’ll be noticed by friends, colleagues, and potential employers.
5. Blog, blog, blog
Yeah, I sort of suck at this too. But it’s a great tool for job seekers. Regular posting shows commitment on your part. I could go on forever about blogging and why it’s good for you, but I’d feel like a hypocrite.
6. Network, network, network
This is tough for a lot of people. Here in Austin, a lot of networking events take place on weekday evenings. As a single parent, these are almost always impossible for me to attend. But get to as many of these as you can manage. If child care is an issue, try to wrangle some free babysitting from your next door neighbor or your Aunt Madge. Put that nametag on your chest, get out there and talk to people. Face to face connections are HUGELY important.
Good luck to any of you searching for work, and please let me know if I can help in any way.