Humanize Your Job Search

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: August 13, 2009 - 3:54 PM

Question: If you've ever been offered a job without meeting first someone face to face, open your window and scream "Yes!"

Hear anything?

Neither do I.

Until more scientific proof turns up, just agree with me here: You can't get hired by a computer or over the phone.

Before you can work for people, you have to meet people.

And the more people you meet, the faster you'll get hired.

Here are three ways to do so, using technology to humanize your job-search efforts …

1) Meet the bloggers
First of all, you need to recognize the value of blogs as a way to connect with employers.

"Educating yourself by reading blogs can help you do better interviews, write a better cover letter, and stand out as a well-informed candidate," according to Willy Franzen, founder of OneDayOneJob.com.

By reading and posting comments on the leading blogs in your industry, “you can connect with bloggers and build a relationship with them, which can lead to a job,” says Franzen, who has met people for coffee who contacted him after reading his blog.

Before asking to meet anyone, however, ask yourself this: What value can I provide in exchange for their time? Franzen offers the following ideas: pay for coffee, share a news item or relevant story, bring business leads, or give feedback to help them in their job.

If you’re always asking and never giving, you’ll rarely get people to meet or return your calls.

Remember: The more personal connections you make, the faster you can meet your next employer. So try reading blogs with the goal of building relationships with -- and, ideally, meeting -- the bloggers who write them.

What if you can’t meet top bloggers in your industry? At the very least, post helpful comments on their blogs, with links to your web site or LinkedIn profile. Reason? Smart recruiters regularly scan blogs looking for smart comments from smart people -- like you.

2) Connect with your future co-workers
In today's economy, businesses are increasingly relying on current employees to reach new hires, according to Phil Gardner, Director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.

"It's clear that companies are looking for a lot more referrals to cut their hiring costs. For example, instead of coming to campus on multiple recruiting trips, they're coming once and then trying to get referrals after that," says Gardner.

Anything you can do to meet and build relations with people at your target employer can produce referrals … that lead to a job.

Start by showing your friends a list of the 20 companies where want to work. You can even post this list on your blog, or your profiles on Facebook or LinkedIn.

And, again, offer value first to anyone you want a relationship with later. This can be anything from your time, your expertise, a link to an article you found using Google.com/alerts -- use your imagination.

3) Humanize your LinkedIn profile
The recommendations that people post on your LinkedIn.com profile carry a lot of weight. They serve as powerful testimonials, proving the claims you make about yourself. And hiring managers read them closely to make sure they call the best candidates.

"A long list of LinkedIn recommendations can be a valuable trump card -- the difference between landing a position in a glutted job market, or not," says publicity expert Joan Stewart (PublicityHound.com).

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