Millions of professionals around the world use LinkedIn as their one-stop social platform for networking, professional development, and job searching. Depending on how often you visit it, your LinkedIn newsfeed alone can be a very powerful tool in your IT business. In this month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we want to know how often independent contractors log into LinkedIn and read through the feed of news, articles and opportunities shared by members of their networks.
Our Favourite People to Follow to Keep Up-to-Date in Business, Job Searching, Tech Trends and IT Contracting
In recent months, we’ve promoted the practice of building a list of Twitter or RSS Feeds to follow your favourite sources and keep on top of the latest trends. You may now be a pro in setting up your feeds but, what we neglected to tell you are some suggestions on who to follow.
Below are some of our favourite sources, and a link to their Twitter and RSS Feeds (if available). Feel free to use as many of these as you wish. If you have any suggestions on companies you like to follow, please share them with our audience in the comments below.
- Company news and more
- Twitter – @eagleStaffing
- LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/company/eagle-professional-resources
- Talent Development Centre
- Twitter – @eagleTalent
- RSS – jobs.eagleonline.com/talent-development-centre/feed
- Eagle Job Board
- Eagle’s Chairman of the Board (Kevin Dee)
General Interest and Business Articles
- Business Insider
Job Search/Workplace Tips
- The Daily Muse
- Twitter – @monster
- IT World Canada
- IT in Canada Online
Running Your Business
If you’re like many job seekers, you don’t stick to just one source when hunting for new contract opportunities. Instead, you start with a few of your favourites, contact some people in your network directly, and follow a few links to different sites. In the end, you’ve done a great job at submitting your name across the industry. What about all of those profiles you just created? Are you remembering to return to each one of them and make sure they’re still relevant? Here are a few simple tips to consider when managing your job search footprint.
Keep a Diary
The first step is to track every website and source you’re using to apply. It can be a notebook, a Word document, or a more sophisticated spreadsheet to track notes on the company, the roles to which you applied, the date you applied, and any other notes around the position. You can then use your diary to schedule when to follow-up with certain people. For future planning, you’ll know which sites to start at when searching for a new contract. You may even choose to update your notes based on results of each source so you can determine which are most valuable in your job search.
Take advantage of your web browser’s bookmarks and keep them well organized. This way, even when your diary isn’t available, you can still easily visit your favourite sites whenever you have a moment. Google Chrome makes this especially simple because it saves your bookmarks with your Google profile. Regardless of which computer or mobile device you’re using, as long as you’re logged into Google, you can access your favourite places.
Believe it or not, “123456” and “password” are still used far too often. Don’t be fooled thinking that a hacker can’t do much harm inside your job board profile. They may be able to get a small piece of information that will help them answer security questions or crack a password on your other sites. Instead of easy-to-remember passwords, consider creating something more complex.
There are dozens of great password manager apps available and many will allow you to securely sync data between your cell phone and desktop. You can use them to secure not just job search profiles, but your entire life. It may cost a few bucks, but the investment is very well it. To start, have a look at MSecure, LastPass or SplashID.
Update It or Close It
Our final piece of advice for managing your job search footprint is to literally manage it! Too often at Eagle, we see profiles that get created and then forgotten. The result is a stale resume with out-of-date skills. A large majority of the places that accept your application are going to keep your resume on file to review it for future opportunities. Make a habit of regularly revisiting all of the sites where you have a profile and ensure it’s up-to-date. If you decide the site wasn’t for you, close your profile. This provides security benefits, as well as ensures you don’t get phone calls from people you aren’t interested in hearing from.
In the end, managing your job search footprint all comes down to being organized. There are unlimited tools available across the Internet to help you organize yourself and effectively manage your job search footprint, so the question is, which ones will you take advantage of? Do you have any favourites you’d like to share? Leave them below!
3 Tools That Will Make You the Most Informed Contractor in Your Network
Having the right knowledge and information is a massive competitive advantage in the IT contracting market. The more up-to-date you are on client news, industry trends, and opportunities, the easier it is to find work and keep a steady flow of contracts. Unfortunately, there is no magical place you can go to that has all of that customized and readily available for you each morning… or is there? No, there isn’t. At least not without a bit of work up-front.
What do you want to know?
The quest for being well informed begins with knowing what it is you want to be informed about. Take some time to plan out every source from which you want frequent updates. Consider your top clients or companies with whom you want to work, your top staffing agencies, some other job boards that have brought you success, and news websites or blogs that provide information on the latest trends in your trade. Now you have a list, albeit long, it’s a list. Your next step is to find a tool that will aggregate and organize all of the information for you.
The simplest tool is probably LinkedIn because most contractors are already there. Go through your target client list, company-by-company, search out their page, and follow them. Now, updates from that company will appear on your newsfeed whenever you log in. As long as you’re in the habit of checking regularly (LinkedIn’s mobile app makes it very easy), you should be fairly up-to-date on your favourite companies.
Unfortunately with LinkedIn, “fairly up-to-date” is the best you can hope for. If you manage to find all of the LinkedIn pages for your favourite companies, you’ll also find that some don’t post updates. For those who are active, it’s almost guaranteed that they’re not posting all news and opportunities – they don’t want to spam their newsfeeds.
Speaking of newsfeeds, just because you follow somebody, it doesn’t mean their updates will appear in your feed. LinkedIn can’t show you everything, so it automatically filters posts based on what it thinks is more relevant to you.
Twitter is the other social network where you’ll have good results with company updates. As with LinkedIn, there’s no guarantee that everybody has a Twitter account and, if they do, there is no guarantee that they’re active. The biggest differentiator between Twitter and LinkedIn is the posting etiquette. Where most pages on the professional social network only post a maximum of two to three times a day, Twitter profiles are more open, sometimes posting over twenty times per day. And Twitter feeds include all posts.
Many companies have a Twitter account dedicated to posting everything they publish — every article, every job opportunity, and all company news. Twitter is fantastic if you want instantaneous news, but it’s overwhelming, which is why lists are mandatory if you want to be organized. Twitter Lists allow you add certain profiles into a group, for example “IT Contract Opportunities.” Then, when you’re interested in learning more about that specific topic, you can view the news only in that list. We recommend using a tool such as HootSuite to manage and view your lists even more efficiently.
LinkedIn and Twitter are fantastic, but they are flawed in that they require a company to continually maintain their posts. Organizations often start with good intentions of posting everything, but those posts can start to fade. That’s what makes RSS Feeds the superior method of following a company.
RSS Feeds automatically publish frequently updated information from specific web pages, such as blog entries, job boards, press releases and news headlines. RSS Feeds are a great “set it and forget it” tool, meaning once an RSS feed has been created, as long as no other back-end code changes affect it, the feed is continuously updating. (For example, you can view the RSS Feeds for the Talent Development Centre, Eagle Jobs, and Eagle’s CEO Blog)
It takes a little bit more work upfront, but you can take advantage of RSS Feeds by subscribing to a feed reader (ex. Digg, Feedly, or any other app that you may find). Then, visit each company’s website to search for their feed (it’s often found by clicking on an image like the one to the right) or search out the company directly from your feed reader. Like Twitter, you can then group all of your feeds, and all of the most up-to-date information is available to you each time you open the reader. If you’re still loyal to Twitter accounts but like the idea of RSS Feeds, this site will help you turn any Twitter feed into an RSS feed.
So what are you waiting for? It may take a time commitment to set yourself up properly, and you need to set time aside to keep up with all of your new information, but it’s well worth it. You’ll know about jobs as soon as their published, client news as soon as it breaks, and hot trends before they make it to the water cooler!
You have knowledge to share and want to build your professional reputation. Except writing lengthy online posts isn’t your strong suit. So creating a blog probably isn’t right for you.
How then to share your insights and opinions in short bursts? Easy. By commenting on other people’s posts. It’s a dependable way to get your name out there.
Commenting could become an integral part of your career social media strategy. Find the right outlets and watch as your profile rises.
Reasons To Share Your Knowledge And Opinions Online
You may already have a social media routine for building your personal brand. Or you might just be getting started. Either way you should consider being a commenter.
By making brief, perceptive remarks, then attaching your name to all your posts, a variety of readers will come to associate you with interesting content. Your entries may be locatable by search engines. Plus along the way you’ll meet new online networking contacts.
Comments Should Be Concise
As a commenter, you’ll be responding to other people’s posts by adding your own take. Each entry you create could expand on the poster’s content or give your opinion on the subject.
Comments are usually short. Anywhere from a sentence to a paragraph is the norm. If you go longer than that on a regular basis, edit down (or maybe start a blog of your own).
Categories of Outlets For Commenting
There are two primary categories of outlets for posting comments. One is on blogs by other people, groups or organizations related to your field of specialty. The other is on similarly related discussion forums and message boards.
Blogs are periodical. Entries are published either every day, every couple of days, or less frequently. Normally they might attract several replies if any. The more popular blogs can get dozens of responses to new posts.
Discussion forums and message boards work another way. They allow people to create “discussion threads” based on particular topics. Sometimes no one contributes to a new thread. Or over 100 replies and a dozen sub-threads could get posted.
Where To Find Commenting Outlets
For blogs and forums/boards in your profession or industry, start with your industry or trade association. They usually provide space for commenting. However you often need to be a paid-up member of the organization to participate.
Don’t fret if you aren’t. Professional forums can be found on the big social media sites. Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, host “Groups” oriented to all kinds of professionals. Google and Yahoo host varied Groups as well. Joining is free. A group may be open to the public, or require joining first.
In addition there are search engines that track blogs and online discussions. Among the more popular ones are boardreader.com and omgili.com. Use them to locate outlets that have pertinent topics.
Some Do’s And Don’ts Of Commenting
Always keep in mind that what you write reflects on your personal brand. Also ask yourself this: do you hinder of help your company’s brand? Employers may see your comments and judge you accordingly.
Don’t rush in and post before you’ve surveyed the landscape. What style are other commenters adopting? How many words are they using when they reply?
Your Insights And Opinions Matter
You needn’t be a noted thought leader to comment. What readers look for is stimulating feedback. As long as you refrain from unnecessary controversy, and are adept at using Spellcheck, you can begin.
Commenting can help you get known as a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Why should this matter to you? Because when it comes to online job networking, employers consistently seek out SME’s!
Last week we shared the Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Coding. It was long, detailed, in-depth and generated some positive feedback, but not everybody needs to find the best code. Here’s another extensive cheat sheet infographic that is for everybody. It was created by leisureJobs and covers everything there is to know about LinkedIn.
Whether you want to build the perfect profile, create optimized images, gain more recommendations, learn the hidden features of LinkedIn, add SEO capabilities, enhance security, or just get started, this infographic will benefit you. A word of caution before you look at it: this may distract you for a while.
Do you search for contracts or let them find you? According to a Quick Poll conducted last September, 86% of independent contractors actively search for jobs rather than wait for opportunities to find them. The survey also revealed, however, that none of the respondents diversify their job search to include the full spectrum of sources.
Last November, we shared an article called The Secret to Making a Recruiter Find You that provided a few options on where you could search for jobs and create an online profile, such as job boards, job aggregators and social media. There are also other great options such as niche job boards related to your skill set and the company or agency website with which you’d prefer to work. While most job seekers seem to be using at least one of these sources, few, if any, are using them all. Here’s why we believe it’s important you diversify to as many places as possible.
Every time you apply to a job through any job board or job aggregator, you create a profile. Unless you specifically ask that your profile not be shared with others, it will be available in a database for recruiters to see. Great! But, every recruiter and company has their preferred database. You may not know it, but a license for a recruiter to access any database comes at a cost, and usually a high one at that. As a result, most recruiters are limited to a select number of databases. If you’re applying to jobs and creating profiles on only one site, and it’s not a recruiter’s list, they may never find you.
But surely they’ll find me on LinkedIn! Yes, if your profile is filled with the right key words, you should be easy to find and may come up on a Google search, but even LinkedIn has its limitations for recruiters. LinkedIn intentionally puts fewer features with the basic search functionality, in hopes that recruiters will pay the extra money for their Premium profile or their LinkedIn Recruiter service. These too come at higher costs which may not be justifiable to a recruiter and their organization. Although you can almost guarantee they’re trying to find you on LinkedIn, it may not be as easy as you’d hope.
No matter where you decide to put your resume, remember that if you want to be found, you have to meet the recruiter half way. It’s surprising how many contractors who want to learn about opportunities make it difficult for the recruiter to obtain their contact information. If you’re serious about wanting to hear about new gigs, include at least your email address and preferably a cell phone number, not just in your resume, but also your profile summaries and any fields that request them. On LinkedIn, review your settings and ensure you have selected to display your contact information. A recruiter would prefer to call or email you directly, rather than use the inMail service. This also comes in handy because some services will provide your resume along with your name, but strip your contact details to tease the recruiter with your skills, and then charge for your information. Having those details readily available on your LinkedIn profile lets them search you out on the social network to get in touch with you much more easily.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, always keep your profiles fresh with your preferred agencies. Most recruiters will start immediately with their company database before even going out to external sources. When they already have your most up-to-date experience and know how to get a hold of you right away, you jump to the top of the list. You can simplify this process by providing all of them with one link to a cloud resume or personal website. Update it once and then everybody has your most recent data.
So how diverse is your job search? If you’d like more diversity in the people calling you and the opportunities coming your way, set yourself a goal to create just a few more profiles this month. You may be surprised at the results!
Are you planning any travel in the next couple weeks? Make sure your home is safe while you’re away. Social media makes it easier for us all to connect with friends and family, and in many cases, gives us resources to improve our work. Unfortunately, it also gives burglars an advantage in their work!
Before you post your holiday adventures on social media, take a look at this infographic from Distinctive Doors. It shares some eye-opening facts and statistics.
If you still search for jobs with the same mentality you did in the 90s, or even early 2000s, you may seriously be hurting your chances of finding a contract and building out your network. It’s safe to assume that most people have moved their job search online (especially if you’re reading this), but it’s important to fully embrace the new digital world that recruiters have already been taking advantage of for years.
Not sure what that means? Take a look at the infographic below from the Brighton School of Business and Management. It shows how recruiters are using the internet to recruit, how you can clean up your online profile, as well as some other great job seeking tips for anyone looking to increase their use of the Internet in their job search.
What does your LinkedIn photo look like? Do you even have one? Your profile photo on LinkedIn could be the first impression you give to a recruiter, client, partner, or colleague. Ensure yours is professional and says exactly what you want it to say about you. For some tips on what not to do, review this infographic from Sales for Life. Do you have any other petpeeves of LinkedIn photos you’d like to share with us?