This is the 4th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
You have a job, so you’re not really worried about your digital footprint.
You received so many invitations to join LinkedIn, you finally built yourself a profile. Now, if you could only remember your password! People keep talking about social networking and personal branding, but you are too busy to keep up with all of that; you’re working.
Don’t be complacent. A job today is no guarantee of a job tomorrow.
A CareerBuilder survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes provides some sobering statistics: more than a third (35 percent) of American companies are operating with smaller staffs than before the recession. Thirty-six percent of companies will hire contract or temporary workers in 2012 and this percentage has been inching up every year since 2009 when it was 28%. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive late last year, says 27% of companies will hire temporary or contract workers in Q1 2012.
An M Squared poll of independent consultants suggests a temporary (or “flexible”) workforce is a permanent change. Fifty-five percent of independent consultants surveyed expect their revenue will increase in 2012. Could an outside consultant accomplish your job? If you don’t generate revenue (sales) or create product ideas, your position could be outsourced.
You don’t have to just sit around and wait for 36 percent of companies hiring contract workers to equal 50 percent. Act now to own and manage your professional reputation.
You should always act as if you may be facing a job search. If you are an expert in your field, other people should know it. Grow your reputation and stretch your network beyond the walls of your office or company. If you do not, you will face a big challenge should the time come when you need to either market yourself as an independent contractor or find a new job.
If you’ve poo-poo’ed social media, consider these four uses for tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to assist you being prepared:
- Demonstrate your expertise. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, you can easily make a habit of sharing useful information via links to posts or articles you read. It’s not difficult to contribute to conversations in all of these networks, which will help you cultivate an aura of expertise (assuming you are, in fact, an expert). When you do enter the social media fray, you may be surprised by how quickly you can become part of a community of other leaders in your field.If you play your cards right, before you know it, colleagues will be looking to you as a mentor and calling you an expert.
- Expand the network of people who know, like and trust you. You no longer need to rely on your brother-in-law or neighbor to introduce you to someone who could potentially hire you. Social networking broadens your network to include new mentors, colleagues, and contacts from around the world and right next door! We all know the best opportunities come via networking and a TIME Business article hits the nail on the when it compares job searching to throwing paper airplanes into the galaxy. In the article, Gerry Crispin, principal and co-founder at CareerXroads, cited surveys suggesting “… At least 28% of all hires came from employee referrals, although (Crispin) suggests the number may be even higher.” Don’t leave your network to chance. If you don’t spend time online expanding your network how will you effectively identify mentees? If you’re not up-to-date and cutting edge with your skills, how will you help those coming along behind you?
- Learn information you wouldn’t otherwise know. No doubt there are conferences and events you might like to attend, but can’t swing the travel or the time. It’s likely someone is “live tweeting” the events. If you join Twitter, with a little know-how, you can find and follow all the best information and learn what people are saying without ever leaving your home or office.
- Get hired and attract opportunities to you. Whether it’s a job opportunity you were not even seeking or a contract you need to land to pay your bills, creating a meaningful digital footprint can make the difference between being on the inside, or being outside and looking in. Results don’t happen overnight, though; don’t wait until you desperately need an online presence to try to create one. Start now. You won’t be sorry.
Are you convinced? These are just are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reasons you should consider creating your online presence. Take it one step at a time and be sure to let me know when your first unexpected opportunity lands in your lap!
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Miriam Salpeter, author of Social Networking for Career Success, is a CNN-named “Top 10 job tweeter” and contributor to U.S. News & World Report’s “On Careers” column. Quoted in major media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and NBC news for her cutting-edge career advice, Salpeter is an in-demand writer and speaker regarding job search and social media. Follow her on Twitter (@Keppie_Careers), Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.