Social and Business Networking
As we gaze at the bleak yet hopeful employment landscape, there is a temptation to withdraw from the executive job market. Surely no one is hiring yet. Why spend the time, money, and emotional expense of looking for a new executive position when headhunters are handling less assignments and employers are not filling openings?

Well the good news is that companies always hire good candidates and, with the economic downturn, executive job opportunities are being created. Some job openings are a result of financial changes: the husband or wife who quits a CEO, VP or Director job to relocate to the spouse’s new work location, or the family that moves into a more affordable home in a new city.

But the greatest opportunities will come from employers who are eager to take advantage of the buyer’s market by replacing non-performers and filling staffing slots where no viable candidates had been found. People on the fence about a job change and successful senior executives caught in downsizing are appealing prospects for companies looking to ramp up their talent pool.

So, rather than hold back with a wait and see attitude, take the reins and put yourself out there to explore the job opportunities that do exist. Of course, the employment market has likely altered since you last looked for an executive position. The biggest change? The explosion of online networking as a valuable job search resource that is also heavily used by Headhunters, Executive Recruiters and Executive Search Consultants.

Remember that as a BlueSteps Member, your executive career profile and resume will always be at the fingertips of over 6,000 top retained executive search professionals, so ensure that your personal and career information stored within the site is up to date and accurate. If you are currently not a member of BlueSteps, more information can be found at the Why Join BlueSteps section.

When conducting your online job search, you may find that social networking is no longer just the playground of the young, but has become an indispensable tool for the savvy job seeker. The major networking sites, LinkedIn and Facebook, are now required memberships as you market yourself. Your Googled list is all of a sudden a way for employers to check out the good and bad activities in your career and personal life. And active sites like Twitter are a global opportunity for you to become a recognized expert in your field.

What then, are the basic requirements for you to benefit from these online communities?

1.    A strong, compelling, and targeted LinkedIn/Facebook profile. When used properly, this really isn’t an autobiography but rather a keyword-rich professional bio that does four things:

    A.    Summarizes your relevant education, work history, and areas of expertise,
    B.    Positions you for the next step in your career ladder,
    C.    Differentiates you from the competition, and
    D.    Demonstrates the value to bring to the work place through concrete achievements.

Does your profile cover all these bases?

2.    Careful linking to people within your career field who are likely to have their own valuable links. You must have the fortitude to deny links that do not match your game plan or whose links might misrepresent you. As appealing as volume is in establishing links, and you do want to have a wide range of contacts, you need to focus your connections on professional contacts and known personal associates.

3.    Participation in blogging and online discussions. Both of these activities will make you easier to find online and will further your status as someone in the know. Sign up for Q&As from professional groups, such as Career Resumes, on networking sites and, more importantly, be an active contributor. Take part in Twitter conversations and follow topics and people that interest you. Although you will have no idea who is out there reading and “listening in” to these discussions, your ideas, suggestions, and advice may well spark interest in a potential employer or future colleague. And don’t waste everyone’s time by self-promoting. Write interesting and insightful responses to gain the reputation as a go-to person on the topic.

4.    Vigilant scrutiny and management of your online identity. Google yourself often. Monitor what is being written about you on the Worldwide Web. Make sure no youthful hijinks have come back to haunt you. Fortunately, the more you put out there in blogs, discussions, etc., the farther down on the page will travel any negative information.

5.    Connections to niche and specialty networking sites. One of the best ways to become a thought leader in your field is to join sites that attract people who have interests or backgrounds in common with you or your career goal. These networking sites provide online involvement that is much more focused than the major sites. Employers and recruiters have also noticed the benefits of using niche sites as resources for finding targeted job candidates.

Communities abound, such as TroopTube.com and CommunityofVeterans.com for present and past members of the military, BlackPlanet.com which caters to African-Americans, Care2.com for those committed to green living, Eons.com for baby boomers, TakePart.com that encourages social activism, Classmates.com for academic connections, and affinity sites hosted by professional affiliations, to name just a few. In the niche world, mega sites exist like AffinityCircles.com which represents more than 140 academic and professional organizations and other resources, like SocialMediaAnswers.com, list and review niche sites.

As you market yourself, be sure to add online resources to your more traditional job search activities. These active, immediate, and growing connections can not only significantly increase your success rate but could make the difference in securing just a job or your dream executive position.

By Peter Newfield, President of Career-Resumes.com

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com.

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