Dear Jeff: Really great question and one I hear quite often from both novice and seasoned job seekers. There are many “social media” tools you can utilize in your search; but given you are just getting started, I would stick to building a more robust presence on LinkedIn.
Think of LinkedIn as a virtual Rolodex. Not only is LinkedIn a tool you can use to keep tabs on your own contacts (called “connections” on LinkedIn), but it also provides you with the ability to connect with your contacts’ connections and their connections. For example, through my 1,200+ LinkedIn connections, I am “linked” to more than 7 million professionals! Even if you have a contact list of 50, just think about how many people those 50 connections know and, likewise, all of their connections. In addition, your connections can write recommendations validating your work at each of your professional engagements, providing potential employers with immediate evidence of your performance and character.
So what do you do with all of these connections? Once you have a profile—fueled by the content of your résumé—you can search LinkedIn based on keywords. So if you are wanting to work at a certain company, search LinkedIn by company and you will see with whom you are connected or have the potential to be connected, who could possibly provide insight into the company, the opportunity, or perhaps provide a referral. You can also use LinkedIn to benchmark your candidacy by searching for peers in your industry and reviewing their profiles. There is even a LinkedIn Jobs page with thousands of opportunities listed.
Another powerful element of LinkedIn is that it provides the opportunity to join virtual groups. Through these groups, you can become privy to recruiting opportunities, follow message board feeds of interest, and connect with other like-minded professionals. These groups can be displayed as part of your profile and can often help reinforce the tone of your candidacy. Check out the LinkedIn Learning Center for more information on utilizing this tool in your search: http://learn.linkedin.com/job-seekers/
Dear Sam: I am a college student seeking an internship. You state that when it comes to constructing a résumé, the objective statement should be omitted. I was wondering if the same rule applies to résumés for internships. – Ngoc
Dear Ngoc: Yes, the same rule does apply to any résumé, regardless of whether you are submitting it for an internship or a full-time professional engagement. The goal of a résumé is to showcase what you can do for the employer based on past experience, successes, or credentials. An objective statement does exactly the opposite in that it focuses on what you want to do. In today’s job searches and candidate-saturated market, employers do not have time—at least not in the initial screening process—to be overly concerned with what it is that each candidate is looking for. By virtue of applying for the role, you are communicating your interest, so spend the most important real estate on your résumé—the top third of page one—focused on what is unique about your background, experience, skills, and abilities that position you as qualified and right for the role.
Dear Sam: I have had several jobs over 10 years, including 2 in the past 2 years, and have been receiving feedback that I have too many jobs and too many gaps in employment. If I don't include all of my jobs, it looks like I am hiding something; if I do include everything, it really looks bad. What do I do? – David
Dear David: A résumé is a strategic picture of what you have done which positions you for what you now want to do. Very different from an employment application—which typically requires the disclosure of all roles—a résumé affords you the ability to be somewhat selective in what you include and omit. Once you omit months in your dates with each employer, a cleaner picture will emerge. Often the omission of months allows the rather clean exclusion of short-term and unrelated positions, not to mention near elimination of the appearance of employment gaps. For example, if you were out of work from January 2010 until December 2011 and you include months and years, potential employers will see a rather large gap in employment. If you omit months of employment, you end one position in 2010 and pick up another in 2011. While one would have to assume you ended one engagement in December and started the other in January, it at least closes the gap and removes a potential disqualifier. If you held multiple short-term and unrelated roles during that time out of your career, you can omit those from your résumé without fear of retribution. Hiring managers understand that your résumé is not a narrative of everything you have ever done, so don’t worry about being seen as “hiding” something. As I mentioned, an employment application is a very different animal, but let’s hope most of the positions you apply for are résumé- and not application-driven. Best of luck.