If you're hoping to impress a recruiter, get ready to work really hard, because recruiters, for the most part, are in the business of looking for people who have very unique and specific skills. Jim Stroud, director of sourcing and social strategy at Bernard Hodes Group and author of "Resume Forensics," a guide to finding free résumés and passive candidates on the Web, explains: "Recruiters always look for the best candidates and 'best' is relative. You may be more qualified than the next guy, but if you don't market yourself better than your competitor, how will a recruiter know?"
How can you position yourself to attract recruiters? Stroud offers the following advice:
Figure out who you want to be when you grow up. Take a big-picture approach to your career. "There is no way you can go from point A to point B without a reference point," Stroud explains. Have you identified your dream job? It's a good idea to consider future growth potential when you map out your career. "Research the jobs of the future and position yourself accordingly," Stroud says. "For example, consider 3-D printing technology. According to Wikipedia, 3-D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. With 3-D printing, you can make single items just as easily as you can produce thousands of items. The costs are minimal and it could have a profound effect of global economies."
Keeping this in mind, consider how this technology may change or open up new career opportunities in your field. "If people can 'print' their own clothes with a 3-D printer, clothing manufacturers and clothing retailers would be run out of business," Stroud says. "If one can 'print' construction material from a machine, what need would people have for lumber, drywall, shingles and related items? A lot of jobs would be gone, but demand would shift." For example, there would be demand for people who:
When you plan out your career, consider data in the Occupational Outlook, a Department of Labor publication available online (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/) that offers insights about how popular certain jobs will be over the next decade. Stroud suggests: "Plan for the future and position yourself for a job that will be in high demand in the future and [that is] trending upward now."
Find role models and emulate their career path. Once you identify a career path that interests you, conduct targeted research to help you get on the right path. "Search LinkedIn for people who are doing what you would like to," Stroud suggests. "Take note of everything they did prior to arriving at where they are now. Look at their achievements and make a list of them." Think about how you can emulate their career path.
Be active online. Give your opinion and contribute to forums (such as LinkedIn Groups) focused on your industry and/or leaving comments on a blog dedicated to your industry. Stroud explains: "These leave a trail for recruiters to find when they Google your name. The same way negative data opts you out of opportunities when recruiters Google your name, positive and professional commentary reflects well on you."
Use social networking tools to get to know potential mentors. Join groups and see who is active and may be interested in sharing ideas and suggestions with you.
You can use Twitter, Google+ and Facebook to meet and learn more about people who are thought leaders in your field. Don't hesitate to ask questions, share their posts and comment on what they write. Your goal is to convince new contacts that you are prepared to contribute and they may be interested in helping you.
Research how people are searching LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn's skills tool (http://www.linkedin.com/skills) to research how people are searching for people with your skills. Search for your skills and see what buzzwords people are using to describe your work. If applicable, Stroud suggests you add those words to your LinkedIn profile, too. "This well help employers find you and/or people in your field to find and connect with you," he says.
Research company pages on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn's company pages as a launching point for your research. Stroud suggests you visit company pages and click on the "Insights" link, which helps you learn where people who work at your target company now used to work. "Maybe before you land at your dream job with your dream company you can work at one of the companies your dream company typically tends to find employees," he explains.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.