iRelaunch Chair and Co-Founder Carol Fishman Cohen speaks with career coach Carroll Welch about social media tips for relaunchers. Figure out what the critical components are of a relauncher's LinkedIn profile, how to describe a career break and / or career transition, and how to get the most out of yours and prospective employers' social media feeds.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO, and co-founder of iRelaunch, the industry leader in career reentry resources. In each episode of 3,2,1 iRelaunch we'll be speaking with guest experts in the career reentry space to help make your transition back to work smooth and successful.
Today, we're going to be talking about social media and relaunching, and the role social media plays in the job search specifically for relaunchers. We're speaking with Carroll Welch of Carroll Welch Consulting. Carroll is a career coach and counselor, and a former practicing attorney. Carroll supports and advises professionals at all levels of career development, reentry and transition. Carroll was also an iRelaunch Boot Camp coach.
Hi Carroll, Thank you for being with us today.
Carroll Welch: Thanks for having me.
Carol Fishman Cohen: I'm very excited that we're talking today about the social media topic, because for so many of us, when we went through the job search years ago before our career break, social media just did not have the role that it does today. And it is so prominent today, there's so much to know about it, that I'm glad that we have you to talk to us to help us decipher all of it, make some sense of it and get some real advice on where to begin in terms of using social media when we're relaunching. So we're going to talk about LinkedIn,Twitter and Facebook and any other parts of social media that you think that we should be discussing, and we'll see how much we can get to. But let's first talk about that LinkedIn profile. Can you just give us an introduction to how important it is to have one, how to set one up and what the basics are, and maybe some resources for, if you have no idea where to start, does LinkedIn provide anything to guide people through the process?
Carroll Welch: Absolutely. So, Carol, as you mentioned, social media has become such an important tool for job seekers and for relaunchers. This is true as well if you are a relauncher and you’re somewhat skeptical or anxious. I really encourage relaunchers at the very minimum to have a LinkedIn profile and that's for a few reasons.
First of all, there are over 225 million LinkedIn users. And so, about 87% of recruiters report looking at LinkedIn or somehow using it as part of the hiring process. And it's become so prevalent and common for people to have LinkedIn profiles and use it as part of their job search process, that if you simply don't have one and you apply for a position and the hiring manager or recruiter looks for you on LinkedIn and doesn't see you, they're definitely going to sort of scratch their head and say, “This is odd. Why doesn't this person have a LinkedIn profile?” That's how common it is now.
And so, as you mentioned, at the very least you want to have a complete, basic profile. And by that, I mean a few different things. As you mentioned, Carol, LinkedIn is really user-friendly. They have fantastic tutorials that guide you through setting each segment of the profile up. So, you should have a photo, and that should be a professional looking photo, although you don't need to go out and hire someone, or pay someone hundreds of dollars to take a headshot. You can have a friend take a photo of you when you're professionally dressed. You shouldn't have other people cropped out. It shouldn't be a selfie. It shouldn't be you at a party or on a beach. It just really needs to be a basic, clear headshot photo.
Another important part of a complete LinkedIn profile is your headline. And by that I mean, the phrase that goes right beneath your name. It's important to spend some time thinking about that and how you want to position yourself.
So, it may be a marketing executive, it may be a career coach or whatever, but that is going to be kind of the phrase that employers use to find you. And it's going to be one of the first things that employers see when they look at your profile on LinkedIn.
The next section is your summary. There is some debate about whether you should write your summary in first person or third person. The summary is sort of a more fleshed out place where you get to really elaborate a bit more on what your unique value proposition is, who are you and what unique things do you have to bring to the table?
And I think social media provides a unique opportunity to personalize and three dimensionalize yourself. And so you could definitely do that summary in first person, but third person is absolutely acceptable. And then on the profile, you're going to have identified three to five skills. You're going to have your education section fleshed out, and then there are other sections at the bottom that I'm sure we'll go into further.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Can I just ask you a couple questions, Carroll? So when you're talking about that headline right underneath your name, I had people ask, do you say in that headline that you're looking for, that you're relaunching or looking for a position, or do you simply say I'm seasoned marketing executive with a specific experience in the healthcare industry, like something descriptive like that, but not indicating that you are currently on a job search?
Carroll Welch: So, you can ask ten different career coaches or counselors a question like that, and you might get several different answers.
But, I think that there’s something called “passive candidacy” where you're not putting out there that you're desperately looking for a job is preferable. There are absolutely ways for you to advance your job search and your candidacy without overtly spelling out in your LinkedIn profile that you're looking for a position.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay, very helpful. And then the other question that we sometimes get is, if people have more than one career goal, or they're applying for two different types of jobs, how do they unify that with the headline on the LinkedIn profile?
Carroll Welch: So, this is a very common question for relaunchers who may be at the beginning of their processes. They have two or perhaps three different tracks that they're thinking about pursuing, and they don't want to pigeonhole themselves in the way they market themselves in one of those specific areas. So in a case like that, you want to just make your LinkedIn profile as basic, general and professional as you can.
So, you may get to what you need to commit yourself to a headline that's more specific rather than not. But, I would advocate for having the most basic, broad LinkedIn profile that you can. And then when you advance in your process, you can always revisit your profile and tweak it to make yourself more marketable to a particular segment of your industry or a particular area.
Carol Fishman Cohen: This highlights what we have talked about and realized for a while, and we try to communicate to all of our relaunchers the importance of going through that career assessment process and really getting the clarity on exactly what you want to do. And this is a perfect illustration of how you have to go through that step first, before you can move on to the rest of the parts of the process, which includes setting up this LinkedIn profile. So, I really like your advice about keeping it generic at the beginning when you're in the earlier stages of that clarification process, but then understanding that this LinkedIn profile is a dynamic document and you can make changes to it as you get that clarity, you can get more and more specific with that headline.
Carroll Welch: That's absolutely right. And, that piece that you mentioned of conducting that self assessment and getting greater clarity on what direction I want to be heading in, that's so important. Once you really think about and refine that message, that message should be consistent. Be clear in all of your different presences.
So for example, your LinkedIn, it will be present in your LinkedIn profile and it'll also be present in your resume. It'll also be present in your elevator pitch and the way you talk about yourself. So you can't just bust out there and set up a profile without having gone through that process.
Develop your message. And then once you've nailed that message as much as you can, and again, you may have to go back and re tweak and refine it later, but then you're going to want to fill out your profile and make that message consistent.
That reminds me of the other point too, about consistency.You want to make sure in your LinkedIn profile that you don't need to parrot your resume and basically put every word for word thing that you've got on your resume, but you want there to be consistency. You don't want there to be an important job or a gap that shows up on your resume, you don't want one to be on one and not the other, that's an important thing. Because that's another thing you don't want to leave employers scratching their heads and asking questions. You want to answer questions and you want to give information. So things like inconsistencies make employers worry and wonder.
Carol Fishman Cohen: While you're talking, it's making me think of even more questions. One question popped into my mind that's unrelated, and we'll get back to the main topic in a second, but just a logistics piece. I remember that LinkedIn had this step of, should we tell all your contacts that you're setting up your LinkedIn profile?
And there was an option there to skip this step, because otherwise LinkedIn connects with everyone in your contact file and people like your doctor or someone might be in your list and they would get a notice. Is that still there? And do you still have the option to skip that step?
Carroll Welch: Yes. So that is in a privacy setting. And what you're talking about is this ability when every time you go on your profile and you change something, say, for example, you didn't like how you phrased your job or your relaunch, and you're really just building your presence and getting your search going, and you're on a day-to-day basis. You're going back to your profile and you're making some changes and adding some things you definitely want to have the item set up in your privacy settings so that every time you make a change, all of your contacts will not be notified. And this way, you can make these changes and build your profile without all of these sort of tedious little items being broadcasted to everyone in your network.
Carol Fishman Cohen: And then I think you can even restrict LinkedIn from going in and connecting with your mailbox and telling people in the first place. So I think you can turn that part off. So, in turn, any other comments that you want to make in terms of the body of the LinkedIn profile and perhaps how you handle describing your career break, while on your LinkedIn profile?
Carroll Welch: Yes. So, for a relauncher who, for example, is familiar with iRelaunch and all of its resources and information, you already know very well that a lot of the things that you did during your career break, like community service, pro bono work, project work, contract work, those are all valuable items and can be set up on your LinkedIn profile in a compelling and professional way. There are many tutorials out there that can help you come up with ways to phrase and describe different things. A lot of people might use phrases like consulting work or freelance work, but your LinkedIn profile template will allow you spaces to explain your volunteer work, or other certifications, or endeavors that you've had that you know are compelling and are an important part of your marketing campaign for your job search. So, those things should all be included.
A lot of people ask about endorsements. They have these endorsements, Mary Smith endorsed Caroll Welsh for publishing or something. And sometimes they're completely irrelevant to what your skills and experience actually are, right? So you have the option to delete and remove those, but people ask, “Oh my gosh, I'm a relauncher,” or, “I haven't worked in a paid professional setting in a while. Do I need to have endorsements,” “Can I run a really good job search without endorsements?” Yes, of course you can. And I've heard some career coaches and counselors say that recommendations are actually more preferable.
That's the section on the profile where a past employer or a colleague actually has a little written piece about you and about the substance of your work. So I've heard some say that, you know, one recommendation is equal to ten endorsements.
Carol Fishman Cohen: And I can see how that can be because the recommendation really fleshes out who you are, but I think in the very beginning, I wouldn't get hung up or worry too much about endorsements because I think many recruiters recognize what they are and what they need. So I wouldn't get too hung up on that.
And then what about if you're in a career transition or relaunch so you're actually going to relaunch in an entirely different direction from what your pre-career break experience was, yet your experience on your LinkedIn profile is going to point to a certain type of career. Is there a way to handle that, that you would recommend in the summary or in some other part of the profile?
Carroll Welch: My advice on something like that first and foremost is always go out and find some sort of way to have an engagement that makes you more legitimate and credible in that area. There's just no getting around that. If you're looking to transition into an area where you have less credibility and less experience, there are probably many ways including writing an article, shadowing a professional, doing an internship, doing some sort of discrete project.
So that is always the best way to bridge that gap of experience when you're trying to transition into a new area. And, all of those things that I just mentioned can be included on the LinkedIn profile.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Excellent. So, I want to move off of LinkedIn, but let me just ask one more question before we do, and that has to do with joining groups.
Can you explain, maybe demystify that a little bit, and talk about whether someone should join a lot of groups or just a few and join groups that are reflecting your career goals at this point? And what is the benefit of being in a group?
Carroll Welch:Absolutely. So, again, just to sort of reiterate the plus of having a LinkedIn profile as a relauncher is that it allows you to be visible and find-able, but it also allows you to engage and connect with other people in your targeted area of where you're looking for a job, and groups are a fantastic way. When you scroll down to the bottom of a person's LinkedIn profile, you can see the groups that they belong to.
So if we're starting from scratch as a relauncher, and you for example, are looking to work in marketing, look at the profiles of different professionals that you know or are aware of in the marketing area, and look at the groups that they belong to and then try to join those groups. Once you've joined those groups, you can start out by just sort of listening and seeing what kinds of discussions they're having and what's being posted.
But then ultimately, you'll hopefully post questions or share content. You can even separately introduce yourself to people in the group who have posted questions or content and ask them for informational interviews. So groups are an invaluable way to put yourself into a pipeline of information and resources and contacts in your targeted area.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Excellent. And actually, can you comment on using LinkedIn and then we'll now move onto Facebook. I'm interested in your thoughts on Facebook in terms of resources for researching companies, how active are companies on this social media? And, how do you go about getting information about using LinkedIn and Facebook?
Carroll Welch: Absolutely. So, all of these forms of social media, surely they, to some extent, are great ways for you to have a presence to market yourself, to be visible, to promote your personal brand. But then it's a two-way street. It's also a fantastic way for you to gather information and learn about prospective employers.
When you're preparing for a networking conversation or a job interview, of course, you're going to look at an employer's website. But when you look at their LinkedIn profile or their Facebook page or their Twitter feed, it allows you to understand that prospective employer in a much more, real time, deeper way.
You can really learn about what they're thinking about. Many employers also even post information about jobs in their social media, they tweet information about jobs. So, definitely if you're interested in a particular employer, checking out all of their social media presences is an important way for you to, not only inform yourself about whether this employer is in fact, something that you're interested in, but also to make yourself a more compelling candidate, because you're really engaged in what they're doing and thinking.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Thank you. I think that's such an important point. And the other piece about that is then when you're in some kind of an interview or conversation with someone in your field, you can refer to the fact that you have just looked at their companies’ Twitter page for example, and there was something on it that was of interest to you that you then clicked through and read about. And so that shows you as more engaged, a person interested in their company, and also you're up on social media. You're signaling that as well.
Carroll Welch: I think that's so cool, Carol. And I think, the reality is for relaunchers, when you hit the job market, you really need to think about not only doing all that work about what you have to offer and bring to the table, but you need to be prepared to address reservations and concerns that employers have about relaunchers.
And the reality is that one reservation or concern that employers might have about relaunchers is that they are technologically behind the curve, and also not up to speed on social media. So by going into an interview or conversation and being able to talk about that employer’s social media presence, you eliminate fears, concerns or reservations on their part about your social media savvy by taking it head on and telling them what you know.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Exactly. I think that is such an important point. So what about your Facebook profile? I know people pretty much know not to have incriminating photographs of them on their profile, or to clean it off if they have to.
But is there anything beyond that, that you would advise people in terms of privacy settings or anything else that they need to know about restricting access to their own Facebook profile?
Carroll Welch: I think that, if you are a Facebook user, and certainly, I'm sure that Facebook has been an important tool for some people in job searching.
I definitely see more results with LinkedIn, but if you're a Facebook user and you want to keep that presence, absolutely. You want to do a thorough review of all of your settings and make sure that you have custom settings so that only your friends can see things like your photos and your religious and political views, you know, posts and things like that.
You don't want to make any mistakes in terms of what prospective employers or professional contacts can see on your Facebook page.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. Very good. and what about Twitter? Should people set up an account on Twitter? What's involved in doing that? What do people use Twitter for when they're relaunching a job search?
Carroll Welch: I will say that Twitter is, I think for relaunchers in particular, it's a very feared, social media tool. But I will tell you that if you are a relauncher, and you've got your LinkedIn profile mastered, I definitely recommend getting yourself a Twitter account and you don't even need to in the beginning, be vocal, just listen, follow the individuals or the employers that are interesting to you and just sort of follow the conversation and listen and watch people engage and see what people are saying and posting.
Ultimately you may find yourself ready and interested in sharing information or retweeting things. But,Twitter can be such a great tool, for the reasons that I mentioned earlier, about understanding employers and individuals in real time and what they're thinking and saying, and you don't even need to be, you can set up your account and not start tweeting right away.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Very good. In order to set up that account, do you need to put your picture on it or put your name on it or you can truly be a silent participant?
Carroll Welch: You can, I don't believe that you can set up a Twitter account without sort of populating those basic things, but you can use your same photo that you've used for LinkedIn and have your basic, your name and, and something that's similar to your LinkedIn headline underneath your Twitter feed.
And just sort of leave that there and begin to follow a number of parties. Don't worry if you're following more people than are following you. You can eventually try to catch up or whatever, but for you using it as a tool in your job search process, as I mentioned, you can sort of be silent in the beginning and just listen and learn.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. And do you have any general tips for people on researching companies on social media, and are there any social media that we have not talked about today that you think should be part of that research effort?
Carroll Welch: Well, when you're about ready, for example, to meet with someone at an employer that interests you or go on an interview, you want to sit down and you want to look at that employer’s LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. Other ways that you might be able to learn about an employer,
look to see whether anyone from that employer has posted a YouTube, perhaps the CEO, or the director of marketing just gave a presentation last week and their talk is on YouTube. That would be a great thing for you to know about before you go in for an interview.
Another, this is more of a website than a social media post, but Glass Door is a fantastic way to learn about a prospective employer before you go in for an interview. But I would say that the big three, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the kind of the key sites that you should be familiar with for a prospective employer.
Carol Fishman Cohen: All right. That sounds great. I want to ask you a question that we like to ask whenever we do a podcast interview, and that is what is your favorite piece of relaunch advice, even if it repeats something that you already said in this podcast?
Carroll Welch: Well, it's definitely something I've said before, and it's something that we talked about a little bit. Spend the time as a relauncher to conduct that very important inventory of your skills and your values before you really fully hit the job market. It will be time well spent and you'll take those findings and learn about what you have to offer, and you will use them in all of your job search tools, including your social media presence. And it will really pay off because you'll show up as a more confident, compelling candidate candidate when you know who you are and what you have to offer.
Carol Fishman Cohen: That is terrific advice. I agree a thousand percent, Carroll, thank you so much for joining us today. And we really, really benefited from your wisdom. For more information about Carroll or Carroll Welch Consulting, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carroll Welch: Thanks for having me.