As we all know, the Internet has made information instantly accessible. You can find a customer, business partner, investor or employer quicker than ever before. The flipside is that they are only a few clicks away from finding your entire social life online, for better or worse. A recent survey conducted by the good folks…
Networking and contacts have always been the key to success in any profession. Back in the day you would have your little black book of contacts that you would use throughout your career. Nowadays, it’s all gone digital and it’s easier to store contacts online for you, and it’s easier for your employer to snatch them when you leave.
Here’s a scenario for you: Your boss encourages you to sign up for a Linkedin profile which you start to actively use in your work as well as socially. The time comes when you and your company part ways for whatever reason. Your boss now says that the account that was set up belongs to the company and you have to give it up. Does it sound like an unlikely scenario? It has happened to lots of people out there and it will happen again.
Don’t let this happen to you
Even though the lines of demarcation between work and play can be grey in social media, most people simply assume they can bring their profiles with them to wherever they are heading. I happen to know a recruiter who left his company after about five years of service and was asked to give up his Linkedin and other accounts. He was having none of it and put up a fight which only lead to his former employer withholding the final commission payment. It was rather a lot of money so in the end he had no choice but to oblige. He had not seen this coming at all and was now left with the not so enviable task of having to start a Linkedin account completely from scratch; he went from about 5,000 connections to zero overnight.
This was obviously an unfortunate case but you can see why the employer did this. Recruiters rely heavily on Linkedin and the employer knows that the contacts will be used at the next company. Whether you will ever end up in a sticky situation like this is impossible to say. All we know is that you cannot assume anything in this job market. Even the safest job today can be outsourced tomorrow and your servers can be locked down over night, effectively leaving you without access to any online profile you have set up at work.
What I can say is that there are ways to prepare for any eventuality. Here are 5 few self preservation tips that can safeguard your online presence:
1. Check the intellectual property policies
Review your company’s electronic data, social media, online communications, email or whatever-they-call-it policy. Understand exactly what is the intellectual property of your employer and what is considered yours. If you think that your company’s policies are too strict, speak to your manager or HR department and see whether you can swing an opt-out clause. As long as you have a good case for it, they will hear you out.
2. What happened to leavers
Are there any precedents? See what happened to others that left your team or department, start by looking at their online profiles and it will be fairly evident what the procedure was. If there seem to be different policies for different people, ask yourself why. Could it have been because of the role, the relationship they had with the boss or just that things changed when they left? Do your best sleuthing so you can anticipate what would happen to you.
3. Set up duplicate profiles
To be on the safe side, you can open up duplicate accounts on Linkedin, Ecademy, Xing, Twitter etc and make it obvious that the new account is your personal and you will only use it in free time, if at all in the office. To make it abundantly clear it’s your profile only, you can leave out your current employer and just state what industry you are in. The duplicates have to be connected to your private email account by the way.
4. Facebook is under the radar
Facebook is considered private and not a business tool. This means it will not be brought up if you leave your company. By adding your key customers and partners as friends on Facebook, you know you will be able to contact them in case you lose all other means. Adding your current co-workers is also a good tip, as their numbers and emails will be on your company laptop/phone which have to be returned.
5. Use your webmail for personal correspondence
This can be a pain but you don’t want to lose all your emails from loved ones in case you are laid off. Try to separate business and personal correspondence, and tell your friends and family which accounts to use. It will take time to wean them off your company email but it will be worth it.
6. Use your own name for a blog
Instead of blogging for your company (let’s face it, nobody reads a corporate blog), start a blog in your own name or write for other blogs in your field. Make sure you write objective material and that it is not done on behalf of your employer. There is no way an employer can yank this off you as it carries your own name.
7. Back to basics
Networking thrived long before the digital age. How about getting yourself an old-school black book and writing down your contacts by hand? It’s what anyone with a job has been doing for donkey’s years and it will work for you as well.
Leaving a company shouldn’t mean you leave empty handed and without any contacts to help you and your career. The last thing you need when you leave a business is a divorce hearing to divvy up your digital estate. So make use of the tips above and think of your own solutions to safeguard your network just in case you are laid off or choose to move on in the future.
See more personal branding preparation tips here.
Would your employer let you go with all your contacts? Has this happened to you? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Whether Twitter is useful or not has been hotly debated. One thing Twitter is very good at is shooting out snippets of information to a lot of people very quickly. In today’s job market, speed is of the essence and announcing new openings on Twitter is a fast growing phenomenon among employers and recruiters.
As a clever job seeker, you can now get new openings sent to you even before most recruiters get them simply by following the right tweeters. Here is the list of major employers that tweet their new job openings, it’s sorted by industries and the companies are hyper linked to their Twitter career page.
This list is a live document meaning more employers will be added as and when they start tweeting their job openings. I have carefully left out a few employers which are very local and/or small and thus not relevant for most readers. Do let me know if you want any additions to the list, as I am sure more and more companies will be catching on to using Twitter for recruiting staff.
Advertising / PR
[url=http://www.twitter.com/Ernst_and_Young”>Ernst & Young
Greenville Hospital System
Kissito Post Acute
Sri Ramachandra Medical Center
St Joseph’s Hospital
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Kaplan Test Prep
Disney Interactive Media
MTV Networks Games
Department of State
Department of Veterans Affairs
Securities & Exchange Commission
Retail & Hospitality
McCormick and Schmick’s
L-3 Global Security
Transportation & Logistics
If you want to follow all of the companies in one go, click here.
And be sure to follow The Undercover Recruiter on Twitter here.
Do you know of more great employers tweeting jobs? Let me know!
Guess what? The world’s number one fear is not spiders, global warming, nuclear war, space invaders or even death. It it is in fact public speaking. Surveys keep confirming that presentation skills are vital to success in business and life, yet the idea of it somehow fills us with terror. If you can become that…
Some swear by them, some say they are a waste of time. Love them or loathe them, job boards is the natural first port of call for most job seekers. They are great for putting your finger on the job market pulse and to get an idea of what is out there. Too many job…
Before a big interview, most people will spend time to prepare answers for likely interview questions. This is useful and can get you prepared for the basics. The trouble is that the interviewer is not looking for answers that are already on your resume, they want to hear something that adds to it. You have…
What better way to beam out your personal brand than to start a blog? More and more people are setting up blogs and the trend is not going to wane. Some career experts argue a blog is a prerequisite for a successful career, I am not fully convinced of that but I would certainly recommend you look into it. Blogging is simple, quick and most often completely free. This post will give you the reasons why and ways how to get going.
Why should I blog?
Just like you should work on personal branding right now, a blog will set you up nicely for any eventualities in your career. This is your chance to tell the world what you do and how you do it.
You might already have online profiles on Linkedin and other platforms, you may be featured on your company’s website and think this is enough. That is a great start but what you haven’t got there is full control of your own digital footprint. By having your own blog, you decide exactly what goes up and how it looks. It is your corner of cyberspace and your blog is your castle.
Your blog will increase your online presence and will be how you get found on search engines like Google. Imagine how beneficial it would be when a recruiter or hiring manager runs a search on you and sees your blog which clearly demonstrates your knowledge in a particular field.
Another great reason to blog is that whatever topic you choose to write about, you’ll find that you soon become an expert in the field. You have to come up with new content and you will have do a fair amount of research. Whilst doing this you will read and learn more about your subject out of necessity. Your blog will basically force you to learn (and write) more and in the process this will aid your own personal development.
Furthermore, blogging will lead to opportunities that you could never conceive. As your blog is out on the web, you will become part of an online community of like minded people. This network can lead to all kinds of exciting new ventures for your career. I know people who have been ‘discovered’ from their hobby blog and landed good jobs thanks to their writing.
What to write about
You can write about anything but if you want more readers than your mom, you best pick a topic that is interesting to the reader. Think to yourself, what is the purpose of my blog? What will readers actually enjoy and what will help them solve problems in their daily life? You can write about your hobby or work for instance, something that you want to share information about. A good piece of advice is to write about something you know a lot about as you can then easily come up with new content.
What to name the blog
When you have decided what to write about, you’ll want to pick a name that corresponds nicely to your content, giving potential readers a nice little heads up. Lots of names are taken so you will have to use your imagination. You can also opt for naming it after yourself but this says very little about your blog unless you are famous and your name can pull the crowds.
This can be the hard part. If you want people to come back to your blog, you’ll have to keep churning out valuable content. The key here is consistency, whether you write a post once a week or once a day, your readers should know what to expect and have a reason to return.
What technology to use
I am not going to get techie on you but I can recommend Wordpress as an excellent blogging platform for anyone with some technical understanding. Wordpress is a bit like Firefox or even an iPhone in that it has lots of add on applications and plugins, allowing you to change things round to your liking.
If you want the simplest form of a blog, go for Google’s Blogger application, which will have you up and writing in less than two minutes. There are a few limitations with Blogger but if you’re an absolute novice it’s the way forward.
These applications are both free by the way. You will also probably want to get your own domain, which will only cost you about $10 from domain registrars such as GoDaddy.
There is no magic formula, silver bullet or quick fix to making your blog a success. I am not a grand master of the craft myself and I can only say that hard work and consistency is what has paid off for me so far. I hope that you will consider starting a blog and you will find that there are numerous resources online to help you. If you already have a blog going and could do with some advice, have a look at my buddy and fellow Londoner Marko Saric’ excellent blog about blogging aptly named HowToMakeMyBlog.
Good luck and see you in the blogosphere!
PS. Just in case you are wondering, this blog is built on Drupal just because I like to do things the hard way.
Most people don’t realize that a recruiter is not actually working on behalf of them, they are working for their client. Recruiters are sales people and they achieve their targets by placing people in to jobs. Placing people means placing anyone, not you in particular – the commission check will look exactly the same no matter who gets placed.
Do they have mood swings?
One day your best friend, the next day they won’t speak to you. The recruiter can certainly seem like a great friend as long as you are what they are looking for and you are interested in changing jobs. If you are not right or you are not ready to move, you will experience not getting call backs and no email replies. Their interest in you dwindles very rapidly and your ‘friendship’ is out the window before you can spell the word fairweathered.
You gets what you pays for
You don’t pay for the service of being recruited and therefore you cannot expect the recruiter to be loyal to you. If you wanted an agent working on your behalf, the money would have to come out of your pocket – just like celebrities do it. You don’t pay a penny to get recruited, you are simply the product that gets delivered. The employer foots the entire bill so if anywhere, this is where the recruiter is friendly – to their client.
So they must be an evil bunch then?
Recruiters aren’t bad people (apart from the
Sales people in other industries are just the same, a car dealer has no time for a person that isn’t serious about buying a car. You will get a few brochures and they will swiftly move across the sales floor to hone in whoever is going to buy. The same thing goes for real estate agents, who you first have to convince you are serious about buying before they show you any houses. A lot of professions fall into this bracket, mainly because the commission structure really incentivizes closing a sale and not nurturing interest and new prospects.
So they aren’t loyal friends, what should I do?
Play the game just like they do. They aren’t loyal friends so you don’t have to either. Work with a number of recruiters, no one recruiter was ever going to have all good jobs to offer you. They will have each have signed agreements with a small number of clients that they work with. So by casting your net wider, you are helping yourself and your career. Don’t worry about letting anybody down, your career comes first.
But I have a great relationship with a recruiter
If you do have a good relationship with a recruiter, can you say why it’s good? I would venture to say that it is because you both bring something in to it. This can be the recruiter giving you heads up on new roles, and you giving the recruiter referrals, industry gossip and insider company information. You can have a fruitful relationship with a recruiter but only as long as you both have something to offer.
What do you think, do you have recruiter friends? Share your experiences in the comments.
Image by Lab2112
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