High-Tech Job Search Tools

It’s early days yet, but a newly launched job search company called StartWire might have important implications for job seekers down the road. According to John Zappe (ERE.net), its purpose is “helping job seekers avoid the black hole and connect with a network of trusted friends and business connections for advice and job referrals.”

Whether the new company will really offer significant value for job seekers remains to be seen. Also, will it provide unique resources that aren’t already available from established companies? We don’t have enough information yet to even make a guess. However, I’m always hopeful when I hear about something that could benefit job seekers, so I’ll be interested to see what happens.

The point really is, are you staying on the watch for high-tech tools that could help in your job search or aren’t you? That’s not to say that StartWire and other companies will survive the risky start-up phase or, if they do, that you absolutely must use them to help you manage your job search, to establish or maintain contact with hiring managers, and the like. It just means that not staying alert to technology trends that could affect your actions might prevent you from conducting as successful a job search as you otherwise would. Like it or not, technology is a fact of life in the employment world today, and to some extent, we all have to get on board regarding it.

LinkedIn Recommendations–Who Needs Them?

Assuming you’re on LinkedIn (if not, why not?), what have you done about recommendations? That is, do you have several of them from former managers, colleagues, customers, etc., and are they posted in your LinkedIn profile? If not, you’re missing a bet.

Recommendations are critical to having a LinkedIn profile that’s 100% complete, and that is critical to being found on LinkedIn by employers and others you want to be found by. Recommendations (also known as testimonials) provide third-party validation of the experience and value you are communicating in your profile. When you have good ones, it’s no longer a case of just you tooting your own horn.

It’s important to note that there’s a right way and a wrong way to request recommendations. Be respectful of the time and effort you are asking people to expend on your behalf—don’t assume they don’t have anything better to do. If possible, be a little specific about what you’d appreciate receiving from them. For example, if your work on a particular project for them is something you want to highlight, let them know that. And, most importantly, remember to thank them when they provide the recommendation.

By the way, it’s likely that not everyone will respond to your request. Some people are just too busy, make it a habit of not providing recommendations, or for some other obscure reason don’t respond. Don’t take it personally. Move on to the next one. Also, keep your recommendations fresh–if the most recent one was from four years ago, people might wonder why you don’t have any newer ones.

Employment Statistics

You might not be a lover of statistics (I’m not overly fond of them myself), but it can be useful to pay attention to them—especially if they give you some potentially relevant insights into what’s happening or expected to happen in the world of employment. Bearing in mind that statistics, trend information and other data lose some of their meaning and validity if taken out of context, you can at least use them as a general guide in reaching some conclusions.

Good sources for employment statistics include the US Department of Labor (DOL), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the Office of Personnel Management (for Federal employment statistics). What can you learn from sources such as these? For example, BLS information would tell you that unemployment rates were lower in August 2011 than the previous year in 262 of 372 major metropolitan areas and higher in 84 of those areas. If you’re in a tough area and considering relocation, you just might want to check out the areas where unemployment has dropped.

If you’re interested in trends that affect employment and other issues of key importance to you, a good source is The Riley Guide (see www.rileyguide.com/trends.html). Besides unemployment, you might be looking at which industries are growing and which are declining, how the areas are doing in terms of general growth and livability, and so on. The Riley Guide is one way to tap into that kind of information.

Career Brainstorming Day

The second annual Career Brainstorming Day hosted by an organization called Career Thought Leaders brought together careers professionals all across the United States and Canada. I was fortunate to attend one of the programs, which was held in San Francisco, and discussed a variety of topics about “the now, the new and the next” in career-related areas. I know at least some of the many ideas that were shared will end up benefiting the clients I work with in the months and years ahead. It’s a great experience to do true brainstorming, which means letting all the viewpoints come out and not shooting anyone down. This is why I recommend to clients that they become actively engaged in professional organizations related to their career field, industry and so on. It definitely keeps you on your toes and helps you prepare better for whatever might be around the next corner!