Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Using social media as job search and career development business analysis resources 5: tapping into a wider range of insider sources 4

This is my fifth installment to a series on the points of intersection between business intelligence and its gathering, and social media and related interactive online channels as sources of actionable information and insight, as they can be applied to job search and career development (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 397 and following for Parts 1-4.)

I offered a list of ten social media sites that offer specific value for gathering business and professional insight and information in Part 4 of this series. And I continue its discussion here, this time turning to more specifically consider how these and similar online and social media resources can be used in job search and career development. And I begin that by noting a crucially important set of points:

• You want to focus in this type of intelligence gathering campaign on the sites and channels that the people and organizations that you want to learn more about, would preferentially use, and the ones that they would most commonly appear in if commented upon by others.
• But from a business intelligence gathering perspective and as a due diligence and jobs and career preparation step, you want to focus on and do your research here, in terms of what you are trying to learn in pursuing your own goals.
• What are the key questions that you need to find answers to in addressing your jobs and career needs?
• Where and how could you most easily and reliably validate the information that you gain in these searches as you endeavor to address your questions?
• Your research here can mean answering your current round of questions directly and explicitly. But it can also mean gaining the insight that you would need to refine what you ask and what types of information you would seek out. It can mean replacing what at first take might seem to be a useful question, with a better one or with a set of better questions.
• Consider, for example, a job search campaign that has you looking in detail into a particular company that you would like to find work opportunity at. And while you are researching them you find out about a new line of business that they are just beginning to expand into, where they are likely to be hiring and for positions that you would be a good fit for, and where with preparation and foresight you could present yourself as a great candidate.
• What questions do you have to track down the answers to in order to more effectively present yourself there as that great candidate?

I listed some basic social media resources that are used by businesses and their staffs and managers in Part 4. And that makes them good places to start from, and at the very least for researching those businesses and the people who work at them. I turn here to at least start discussing the process of bridging the gap between where you look and what you look for.

Let’s start with business intelligence gathering in a job search context, and in order to cover as much relevant ground there as possible, let’s assume that you start out as a blank slate: a tabula rasa as far as having firmly established, validated business intelligence for this particular search prior to starting it.

• One context where that can be a valid job search staring point would be if you have to relocate to a geographically distant location, as for example when following a spouse who has just received a new job offer in their field of endeavor that just could not be turned down. Suddenly you face a new local job market and a new assortment of businesses that would hire from it, that you have no prior background or experience with.
• A significant career change can lead to this type of new path forward job search too, and most everyone working today has to assume they will have to make at least one major career path change in the course of their overall work life. So with time this scenario can be expected to be of valid concern to most all of us.
• And as a third scenario here, I cite the possibility of conducting a job search for a rarer and more non-standard type of position, where simple and more standard job searches might not suffice and where throwing a much wider, social media-inclusive search might make all the difference for you. As just one case in point example where this type of situation can and does arise, hiring for key positions in innovative organizations and for the creative talent that those work positions call for, can be seen as looking for the rare candidate to fill the unusual work slot. This creates challenges for both sides of the interviewing and hiring table, and challenges where wider ranging information and insight sourcing can prove essential.

This brings me to a very specific next set of questions:

• What precisely are you looking for as a next job, and for the type of work you would perform, for the level on a table of organization that you would do this work at and for the size and type of business, and of course the industry you would work in?

This in its progression of clauses is a basic “what and where” question, that would in practice be split off into multiple more precise separate questions that you would refine as part of your basic search. You would start with one set of such more-specific questions and refine and expand them until you are asking the questions that you specifically need to ask and answer if you are to succeed in your specific here-and-now job search campaigns.

• Now what do you need to learn and who do you need to network with and meet, at least online, in order to make yourself a top candidate for jobs that you would seek out, on the basis of those questions and your answers to them?
• And as noted above, your goal in answering this, and in following through on your answers with action, is to become the job candidate who is and who looks and sounds like the best candidate for the jobs that you would apply to.

Connecting this posting back to Part 4 and its discussion, if you have at least a firm preliminary answer to your basic what and where, higher level search questions, that can tell you what types of professional networking and information sharing groups you should join and be active in, on sites like LinkedIn and Yahoo, and which you would want to be offered opportunity to join, on a site like Ryze. Join the appropriate professional organizations too, of course but also join into and actively participate in their online communities too, and tap into their social media resources (e.g. their own self-hosted social media and networking channels and their Ryze and other outside-hosted interactive channels too.)

• Find out how the businesses you are interested in are performing and both competitively in their verticals and with respect to their competitors and with their customers in their marketplaces.
• And find out if they are expanding in areas that you would work in, holding steady there, or cutting back or likely to.
• Remember in this regard that a successful business can sometimes stay that way because of what they chose to move away from doing, as easily as they can for what they chose to stay in or expand into.
• And unless you specialize in legacy technology skills, which is less likely for those not approaching the end of their careers, you need to focus on businesses and business areas that your target companies are holding steady on at the very least. And companies that are expanding in areas where you would find your best next jobs are probably going to be your best targets of work opportunity and both for landing a job and for entering into a career track there that can lead to advancement and professional growth.

Identify the key people in your job search target businesses who you need to know about and who you would benefit from networking with. Research who is hiring in those businesses, and certainly for any that hold interest and promise for you in your job search campaigns, and research what they need done and what skills and experience they are looking for as they manage their staffing needs.

I wrote above of identifying and joining the right online professional communities. Focus on the right ones and prioritize on which ones to join and be active in. It does not help you to join more and more professional groups if that means that your social media attention is so widely and thinly spread out from that, that you cannot effectively participate in the groups and channels that should be your highest current priorities for you to be involved in, for all of the other groups you are in too. Quality is more important than quantity here. I have been invited to join many hundreds of groups over the years. But I have only joined and been active in a select few of them and certainly at any one time, and for this reason. And I have joined, stayed in and then bowed out of and left professional groups as my needs, and my priorities and goals have changed too. The more you network professionally, the more groups you will hear of and the more you will be actively invited to join. So use your time and expend your effort effectively in this and prioritize how you spend these limited resources in your business social media use so you can be more effective in your job search and in your overall career development.

I approached this series installment with a combined job search and career development goal and then primarily focused on the job search side of that here. I did at least begin to mention the longer-term career development side to that in this installment, but I will more fully delve into it in my next installment. In anticipation of that, I note here a point that is crucial for any career planning. We tend to plan and conduct our job searches in the immediate here-and-now and with most of our attention focused on the immediate task of getting hired so we can bring in an immediate here-and-now pay check. And then when we get hired and we are working on a job we tend to focus in on the immediate day-to-day of our work there and on completing the tasks that we have immediately at hand too. Career planning follows a very different timeline and we need to develop a very particular form of dual vision in balancing here-and-now job, and longer-term career needs. I will discuss how we can use social media and related interactive online resources in improving both sides to our dual vision for this, and with a focus on more fully exploring the career side to this, which can be all too easy to overlook in our day-to-day rush. And then as promised in each of the last several series installments, I will turn the business intelligence discussion around, shifting from the perspective of what we can learn online about businesses and business professionals, to that of what others can learn about us online and as that impacts upon our job search and longer-term career development efforts.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. And you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its continuation page too.

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