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March 31, 2011

Using Twitter for Your Career: What Should I Tweet About?

My colleagues and I at Monster.com think and talk a lot about using social media -- as it Twitter_bird relates both to companies and to job seekers, and to networking, personal branding, and so on. For me, this has been especially true in recent weeks. Hot on the heels of Monster's participation in South by Southwest Interactive, I've been speaking on social-media-related topics at a couple of regional conferences, and on this coming Saturday, I'll be speaking a panel titled "Tweet Your Way to the Top: Social Media and the Job Search" at the Social Learning Summit 2011 (hosted by the American University Social Media Club).

Recently, I was speaking to a group of Monster customers (HR pros, recruiters, and hiring managers) about the role of social media in the modern workplace. After the event, a woman came to me with an important question: "I understand that Twitter and all of these things are important," she said, "and I know we have to start using them. But what should I be tweeting about?"

It's a deceptively simple question. In most discussions about personal branding on social networks such as Twitter, personal branding is described as the first step and primary consideration. But it isn't. No matter who you are, or where you are in your career -- or whether you're representing yourself or your company online -- there are three things you have to do before (and while) you're online and personal-branding up a storm:

STEP ONE: Be awesome. I'm not joking. If your focus is on promoting yourself but not on doing things worthy of promotion, you're going about your career all wrong. (And if you're not being awesome or doing awesome things, you don't really have much to tweet about.) I don't want to belabor this very simple notion, but it's often overlooked at the personal and at the corporate level. Simply being on Twitter is not enough. Simply blogging about current events or LinkedIn-ing to everyone you've ever worked with isn't developing your career or building your brand. If you haven't taken the time to first be awesome, all this activity in an online space is a waste of time.

All of us, but perhaps young people especially (because they are at the receiving end of a lot of "personal-branding" advice) should try to keep in mind that a great personal brand should be thought of as the frosting that completes the rich, delicious cake of your achievements.

So, to answer that nice woman's question: Be awesome. Do awesome stuff. Then tweet about that. Repeat as necessary.

STEP TWO: Be human. Have you ever known someone who talked only about himself or herself -- who was, to put it in theater terms, all monologue and no dialogue? This is what a lot of Twitter activity sounds like, to me. Using your Twitter stream (or Facebook profile or blog or vlog) only to broadcast your own news is not social. It's antisocial. And it's not human. What do humans do in social spaces? They notice other people. They ask questions. They pay compliments. They share opinions. Sometimes they even talk to people who are not in their immediate networks (or, we might say, cliques).

So this is another answer to that woman's question: Say hello. Pay a compliment. Ask a question. Answer a question. Share an opinion. In other words, be human.

STEP THREE: Be goal-oriented. People tend to get so excited about a new platform, tool, or technology that they leap on it before they think about whether they need it. Web 3.0 gives us so many ways to put ourselves online -- to display our personal brand. But how often do we ask ourselves, "What do we want this display to achieve?" For anyone with a career, at least one answer to that should be "Advancing or maintaining my career." So all of your online social activity should move you toward that goal (or at least not take you away from it -- for example, as inappropriate pictures on your Facebook profile might). If you're jumping in to social media, you should have a social-media plan, with long-term and short-term goals -- because if you don't know what you want to achieve, how will you know what's working and what isn't?

Even if your only goal in using Facebook is, for instance, "Stay in touch with the people I care about and have a few laughs," you need to occasionally check in and ask yourself if you're achieving that.

So that's the final answer to the question "What should I be tweeting about?" And it's an answer in the form of another question: I don't know; what do you want your tweets to do for you?

Answer that, and you're well on your way to figuring this social media thing out.

(Follow me on Twitter, at @monstercareers. And like us on Facebook to get a leg up on the competition!)



Posted by Charles Purdy on March 31, 2011 at 04:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

March 22, 2011

Job-Search Advice for New Grads

IStock_000011537085Small A new batch of freshly minted college grads is about to enter the workforce. And as they prepare to begin their careers (in a tough but slowly improving market), they could probably use some advice. And, frankly, when it comes to finding a job or advancing a career, who doesn't need some great advice? We asked career and personal-branding expert Chris Perry, of CareerRocketeer, to provide some tips on the modern job search--and whether you're a new grad or a mature pro, it's never too late to learn, so read what he has to say:

1. Brand Yourself: It's essential that you know your unique value and communicate it effectively. To do this, identify the top three to five personal strengths that you feel will support your desired career direction. Now find (or think up) a word or phrase that represents these strengths and can become your personal brand. Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail. Most importantly, feature your personal brand in all your online profiles, job-search documents, and job interviews. Consistent and effective communication of your unique value via a personal-branding statement will increase your confidence and impact and will make you stand out from other candidates pursuing the same opportunities.

2. Get Recommended: Request as many recommendations and references as is appropriate from classmates and professors while you're still fresh in their mind. This can be done via LinkedIn, or you can collect traditional written recommendations. They don’t necessarily have to be long letters; they just need to be genuine and supportive of your personal brand. Having recommndeations visible online (or at least readily available) will really improve your credibility both in your first job search and throughout your career. 

3. Identify a Career Direction: While you don't have to spend the rest of your life doing whatever you choose to do right out of school, try to have a solid understanding of your work preferences and your career direction. You can identify a number of these by taking advantage of the many career-assessment tools available, as well as other industry- and company-research resources available in your college career center. Having a strong understanding of what you want to do (or think you want to do) at the start of your career will make you come across more confident in your job-search networking and interviews. 

4. Informational Interviews: Informational interviews work in job searching and networking because they allow you to make a personal connection with a real human being who is typically in a good position to endorse you and recommend you internally in his or her company. Talking to established professionals can also help you choose a career direction. (For more advice, read "Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview.") 

5. Become an Expert: Building credibility in your industry or area of interest--at any age or career level--will set you up for better opportunities down the road. There are many ways to become a thought leader. You might consider starting a blog or writing articles for publication on other blogs and websites. You can attend industry events or even lead your own. You might also consider getting involved in industry associations or even discussion groups and online forums online.

(Visit Monster College for more expert advice for new grads.)



Posted by Charles Purdy on March 22, 2011 at 04:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

March 21, 2011

Spring Cleaning for Your Career

With spring comes spring cleaning—and we're not talking just about mopping behind the refrigerator or clearing junk out of the garage. You can take advantage of the energy boost that comes with longer days in another way: by cleaning up your career or job search. We asked Lisa Quast—a certified executive coach, the author of “Your Career, Your Way," and the founder of Career Woman, Inc.—to share some tips:

Monster Blog: What's some "dirt" that a person may need to remove from his or her career or job search?

Lisa Quast: Rid yourself of outdated clothes, hairstyles, and make-up. Always dress for the position you want, not necessarily the one you have.

Detox your brain by getting rid of negativity. Start spring with a fresh, positive outlook that says, "Yes, I can accomplish my career dreams!"

Stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like an internal consultant. Begin demonstrating to higher-ups how much value you add to the company.

MB: What new tools and products should people be using, and how?

LQ: Brush up on your social networking skills, and build professional and personal support networks to gain job referrals.

Take advantage of company-sponsored training programs to learn new skills and increase your value in the workplace.

Use the Internet and discussion boards to find out everything you can about a company before you interview there. Company websites are a great tool—but, after all, they were created to make the company look good, so take the time to research additional sources for information about the company. Good places to locate company information include Hoover’s Online, Vault, WetFeet, and Dow Jones Factiva.

MB: What steps should a job seeker take to polish up his or her online image?

LQ: Make yourself shine by getting a professional portrait taken, and then use it for networking sites (or for your company’s employee directory).

Clean up your resume. Update it each spring and have at least two people review it and provide feedback for improvement. After all, your resume is the best advertisement for your product: you!

Scrub your personal profiles on all social networking sites to ensure that you look professional online. Un-tag yourself from any pictures showing you in compromising or unprofessional situations.

Be prepared: Use search engines to find out what comes up when you type in your name, and then seek out and repair any damage to your online image. You should always be aware of what hiring managers are finding when they search for you online.

* For more practical tips, check out "Make a Fresh Start This Spring."

Quast A sought-after career development expert, Lisa Quast is quoted regularly appear in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, NY Daily News, CNN.com, and MSN.com, and she frequently contributes career articles to Forbes.com and HRNow.com.

Posted by Charles Purdy on March 21, 2011 at 07:39 PM in Career Development , Job Search , Networking , Resume , Women at Work | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

March 18, 2011

The Monster 5 for Friday--Careers Edition--March 18

IStock_000015444894Large Spring is just around the corner--and with warmer and longer days, many people are feeling invigorated about their job search (whether they're employed or not). Now that we've  sprung forward into Daylight Saving Time, take time to plant the seeds that will blossom into great new (or improved) jobs this year.

To that end, here's a look at five of our favorite career-advice articles from this week:

5. Not every career follows a linear, easy-to-understand path--and many of us have very diverse interests and experiences that can be hard to unify in a single career. Get tips on doing just that, in "Fuse Different Interests into an Incredible Career."

4. Managing a career isn't something you do only when you're looking for a job or preparing for a performance review. It's something that requires consistent attention. Read "On-Going Career Management."

3. Or perhaps you're feeling that your professional life has stalled. If so, read "Feeling Stuck in  Your Career? Tips to Get Moving Again."

2. We all know that the manufacturing sector was very hard hit by the recession. But that's changing now. Read "Factories Having Trouble Finding Workers."

1. Are your innovative suggestions continually shot down by your boss? Read "How to Get Your Breakthrough Ideas Approved by Decision Makers." 

Do you need job-search advice? What job-seeker topics would you like to see covered? Leave a message for us in the comments section below, or find @monstercareers on Twitter and send a message.

Posted by Charles Purdy on March 18, 2011 at 07:35 PM in Career Development , Job Search | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

March 16, 2011

Is the Internet Making You Less Productive at Work?

Does the Web actually make you more productive? Or do you go online to get a quick fact for a business proposal you’re writing—and end up, 45 minutes later, watching a YouTube video series of a piano-playing cat?

How do you stay focused on work and productivity when the Internet is only a couple of clicks away?

These are the questions a panel of experts recently discussed at the South by Southwest panel "Is the Internet Destroying Your Productivity?"  

Read highlights and join the discussion here.


Posted by Charles Purdy on March 16, 2011 at 02:20 PM in Career Development , Current Events , Job Search , Networking , New Media , Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 13, 2011

Pee-wee's Big Career

I'm at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference this week—Monster.com Pee-Wee_Herman_(1988) (my employer) has a big presence at the event; we're the official Hiring Hub, we're showcasing a lot of our digital and mobile products, we're getting in front of influential bloggers, and we're covering news of interest to job seekers.

It's going to be a busy few days, and my schedule is packed. But of course when I saw that Paul Reubens was speaking, I made time for that in my schedule.

Paul Reubens (also—if not better—known as Pee-wee Herman) presented a funny, enlightening, and encouraging discussion of his long career.

One of the more encouraging elements was his discussion of writing the screenplay for his film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Reubens says that he dislikes writing and felt, then, that he didn't know how. So when it came time to write the screenplay, he read—and then followed the instructions in—a how-to-write-a-screenplay book. The result is (I believe) a timeless and very entertaining movie, and, Reubens says, the screenplay is now taught in some film-theory classes as a perfect example of a well-paced and classic sort of hero's-journey plot, with all the right elements in the right places.

Reubens says, "The film is 90 minutes long, and 90 pages. On page 30, the bike gets stolen—a classic MacGuffin—and on page 60, Pee-wee finds it again."

Here are that story's encouraging takeaways, for me: First, not knowing how to do something doesn't mean you can't learn how to do it (and then do it well). Reubens followed the rules and learned as he went. Second, you don't need to start from scratch when you create something. Putting your own spin on, or bringing your own viewpoint to, a well-tested formula can be a great place to start and can perhaps even help you spur your creativity.

Reubens also touched on a notion that is appropriate to SXSWi, at which people are discussing all things related to social media—the difficulty of maintaining a work persona that is separate from your personal persona. For many years, Reubens was photographed and interviewed only as Pee-wee; it was an extended and complex piece of performance art (though Reubens is too modest to call it that).

That is, Reubens was photographed only as Pee-wee until, as he says, this one day. ... And because, perhaps, Reubens kept his true identity so private and appeared only to the world as Pee-wee, this photo seemed even more shocking, amplifying the resulting scandal (which was blown so out of proportion as to approach the level of farce). We live in a different era, and nowadays it's even harder to separate one's "work persona" from one's "private persona." It's a good caution: Your private life is likely to find its way into the public eye.

For the first movie role he took after this scandal (in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Reubens asked that his character look as much like his mugshot as possible. Now that's facing negative press head-on and turning it into a positive.

Posted by Charles Purdy on March 13, 2011 at 05:29 PM in Career Development , Current Events , Film | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 11, 2011

The Monster 5 for Friday--Careers Edition--March 11

The+celebrity+apprentice TV's "Celebrity Apprentice" is back for a new season--and as always, it provides a very interesting look at workplace dynamics. Strong personalities, unfamiliar tasks, high-stakes competition, a very demanding boss, and nearly impossible deadlines make for a lot of drama.

Of course, workplace drama doesn't happen only on screen--anyone who's had a job has faced all of the aforementioned elements at work, and that's part of what makes the show appealing to some people and unappealing to others (who get enough job-related craziness at their own jobs).

(Do you need tips on dealing with conniving colleagues? Read "Beware of Back-Stabbing Coworkers.")

What did you think of this week's episode? Was firing former teen heartthrob David Cassidy the right choice? Or was Richard Hatch, as the project-manager tyrant, more deserving of the axe? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

But first, take a look at five of our favorite career-advice articles from this week:

5. Have you been fired or laid off? Handling that on your resume can be tough. Get tips, in "Job Termination and Your Resume."

4. Or maybe you quit your job. That can be hard to explain, too. Read "What to Say About Why You Walked Away."

3. Unsure about whether a job posting is legit? If it sounds too good to be true, it just might be. Read "Help Wanted: Take These Steps to Avoid Job Scams."

2. It's that time of year again: time for spring cleaning. Read "Checklist for Spring Cleaning Your Job Search."

Sxsw_hiring_hubproof 1. Monster is going to be a huge part of this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference (a major showcase of the best new websites, mobile apps, video games, tech innovations, and startup ideas in the digital community). We're providing the Hiring Hub, featuring tons of cool job opportunities--in IT, Web development, social media, and more--posted by companies at the event. Follow @monstersxsw on Twitter for a list of open jobs being broadcast from companies exhibiting at SXSW. If you're going to be at SXSW, come visit us to see what's hot in hiring, check out our amazing mobile apps, and more! Also, before you hit the trade-show floor, check out "7 Tips for Networking at SXSW."

Do you need job-search advice? What job-seeker topics would you like to see covered? Leave a message for us in the comments section below, or find @monstercareers on Twitter and send a message.

Posted by Charles Purdy on March 11, 2011 at 07:09 PM in Career Development , Current Events , Job Search , Networking , New Media , Resume , Television , Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 07, 2011

Promote Yourself and Really Pop!

The candidates for VP of Pop Culture, for popchips and Ashton Kutcher, have submitted  Pop the vote_$1 off_banner_520x400 their videos--and now it's up to the voters to decide. In these last days of voting, the candidates will have to employ smart tactics to get votes. As with many job searches, it's all about selling yourself!

Are you in the running (or do you need to promote yourself for another purpose)? Here are some tips on getting out the vote:

1. Take advantage of multiple platforms. Show off your social media skills: reach out via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, your blog, and so on, so you can reach new voters (and remind your fans to vote again).

2. Get creative with media. Use images, video, and so on.

3. Be reciprocal. If you want people to do nice things for you, it helps to do nice things for them first! Think of ways to help your network (or otherwise do good, perhaps for a charity) in exchange for their support).

4. Promote yourself at least once a day. But beware of overkill--you don't want to tire out the people in your social networks.

5. Make it easy for people to help you. If you're running for this VP position, for instance, use the "get out the vote" banners and other tools that popchips has provided for candidates.

And don't forget to say thank you! The VP of Pop Culture candidacy pages now let candidates say thank you with a special coupon good for $1 off popchips! To get a coupon, vote for your favorite candidate any time before the polls close on March 9. (Although you can vote once every 24 hours, there's only one coupon available per person.)





Posted by Charles Purdy on March 7, 2011 at 02:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

March 04, 2011

The Monster 5 for Friday--Careers Edition--March 4

We say it a lot because it keeps happening: the job market is improving. Today's labor-market report from the U.S. Department of Labor puts the unemployment rate at 8.9 percent--that's the first time we've dropped below 9 percent in almost two years.

Of course, 0.1% isn't a huge gain--and it wasn't greeted by a whole lot of fanfare in financial circles. But it's interesting to note that we're seeing improvement in some industries that have lagged behind the rest of this sluggish recovery, including manufacturing.

Paradoxically, this report may set the actual unemployment rate a bit higher: the report counts people who are actively looking for work--and as things look more hopeful, more people who'd given up the search are coming back. So even if we climb to somewhere above 9 percent in March, I hope we can say that our recovery is continuing.

Here are five of this week's best career-advice articles from the Web:

5. Are you one of the many people who have been unemployed for a long time and are now considering a return to the job market? Read "Breaking Out of Long-Term Unemployment."

4. Coping with a long period of unemployment can pose special challenges for someone writing a resume. Read "Resume Writing After a Long Work Absence."

3. Do you feel your days slipping away from you? Whether you're swamped at the office or looking for a job, getting organized can help. Read "Stay Focused at Work." 

2. What's the file name of your resume? It can make a big difference. Read "How to Get an Employer's Attention in 20 Seconds."

1. Have you filed your taxes yet? If you're unemployed, you'll want to read "Tax Tips for Job Hunters." 

Do you need job-search advice? What job-seeker topics would you like to see covered? Leave a message for us in the comments section below, or find @monstercareers on Twitter and send a message.

Posted by Charles Purdy on March 4, 2011 at 09:11 PM in Career Development , Current Events , Job Search , Resume | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Advance Your Career with Daily Feats

Yourpotential Having a successful career or a great job isn't a one-step goal. Like living healthily, being a good friend, or raising a family, it's a process--a series of small choices and small successes that add up to a better way of life.

DailyFeats is an online social platform that understands this. Powered by users' energy and commitment to doing good, for themselves and others, it's a community where people share and earn rewards for their positive actions. Markus Kolic, DailyFeats' director of content and marketing, says the idea for this community was sparked by the rise of micro-investing websites: "We started thinking of 'micro-actions,'" he explains. "Small events on the Internet can have a big impact."

As an example, one of the many feats a person can complete is taking the stairs. Performing the feat earns you points that are redeemable for coupons and various other goods and services in your area--and it can also earn you praise from other members of the DailyFeats community (and that praise also earns points). It's a win-win: you take a small step toward a healthier way of life, you inspire others, and you receive positive reinforcement and tangible rewards.

There are currently more than 125,000 rewards--available nationwide--that anyone can earn for doing good. New sponsoring companies come on board every month. Markus says, "The beautiful thing about this idea is that it almost sells itself--it's such a win-win. … It allows a brand to connect to something that's essential to what they're trying to do."

Monster.com has joined with DailyFeats; now members of the DailyFeats community can better themselves by strengthening career-related skills or completing tasks on the job.

"At Monster, we want to encourage seekers to do away with the status quo, always aspiring to reach new career heights," says Monster.com chief marketing officer Ted Gilvar. "By teaming up with DailyFeats, we are encouraging them to better themselves--within their careers but, perhaps more importantly, within their everyday lives, too, all while earning rewards along the way."

The new Monster.com feats include:

!yourpotential (work toward a great accomplishment) !newskills (learn new abilities, through classes, training or research), !makeconnections (reach out to someone who might help your future), and !updateresume, among many others.

Check out all the Monster.com feats (and start earning points!) today.

Also check into DailyFeats at South by Southwest (SXSW, March 11-20, 2011, in Austin, Texas). Conference attendees can explore the world of positive actions unlocked by DailyFeats, and use them to navigate all the good things converging on Austin, including special one-time-only SXSW feats like !inspired@SXSW and !network@SXSW.

Using the new DailyFeats app for Android and iPhone, or by visiting DailyFeats.com on their mobile browsers, SXSW attendees can access Monster's slate of feats related to career goals, and connect with other people in Austin--and around the world--who are also pursuing positive goals.


Posted by Charles Purdy on March 4, 2011 at 08:12 PM in Career Development , Careers at 50+ , Job Search , Networking , Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)