Can You Be Found? Why You Must Personally Invest in Social Media

Can you be found?

“Of all the millions of people on LinkedIn, we found you!”

I had never quite thought of it that way. This quote was a statement from one of our recruiters who was searching to fill my current role. Yes, that is how they found me for it.

This past Saturday with temperatures hovering around 115 degrees here in Saudi Arabia, I was ensconced in the cool of my house reading with the TV on as background noise. I was watching CNBC, which by the way, has the best business documentaries on TV. The first one was a documentary about dating websites and their industry, and immediately following that, there was one on LinkedIn.

A marriage made in social media

One of the interviewers in the dating website documentary told the story about how he found his true love online. In an attempt to make the show more balanced, others told the story of how the dating sites had failed them. But the recurring theme centered around how to be found, or how to find someone, online. Believe it or not, being found today, even on a dating site, is much more of a challenge than it was in years past.

Following the show on dating sites was one on LinkedIn, with more stories about how to find or be found. I found this to be a fascinating dynamic. My book was put on hold as I intently listened. The philosophy around LinkedIn, for the most, part fit the same strategic profile as the dating websites. So, how can I be found — not for love, but as a w0rking professional?

LinkedIn is a website that I keep live all day. It is one of my splash pages. I was told by someone within LinkedIn that I would be considered a “power user.” Following companies, following content, following my connections and what they are up to, keeps me abreast of what is going on in my industry.

But, it’s my passion as well. If you are serious about your career, how could you not be a fan of LinkedIn? The operative word in the previous sentence was SERIOUS.

A few weeks back, I got a text message from a friend of mine, saying, “Just now notified that I will be laid off. Do you have anything?

I replied that I would keep my eyes and ears open just in case I did, and we would speak later about it.

Yes it is that SERIOUS

When I got home, I took a look over at LinkedIn, and lo and behold, there was nothing there from this person. This HR professional, who has been on HR for a long time, did not even have a profile page set up.

That made me recall someone reaching out a while back through LinkedIn for advice on an employee value proposition project. I took a look at their profile and it read like a tombstone — date hired, date quit, and company name. Absolutely nothing else! I sent her a note back and said, “You are in HR, so there is no excuse for not being engaged on social media, especially on this site.

Another person who reached out to me for career advice was in marketing. Her LinkedIn profile showed that she had two (2) connections. Yes, two connections after 10 years in the workforce.

I asked another person I know, why no picture with their profile? Her comical response was that she “ didn’t want to scare anyone away.” I told her that when they pull her profile up and see no picture, they are already scared away.

Each time I talked to someone about their lack of focus on social media, I got the same old song-and-dance response that spoke to a lack of focus: they were too busy, it was on their to-do list, they never thought that much about it, they didn’t want to sound like they were bragging, etc. In my book, to not have a professional profile on LinkedIn is career suicide, and to have one that says “private” is double career suicide.

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Are you really in the game?

An important stat to remember is that 85 percent of companies use LinkedIn for recruitment, and that number is only going to increase. But people still do not get it.

I told an audience a while back that for any accomplishment or success that you achieve, Step 2 should be crafting a message, bullet point, or narrative around it and posting it online. That is, you do that if you are still hungry to build your career. If you have maxed out and you have reached the top of your profession, you have somewhat of a pass. However, remember what is here today can easily be gone tomorrow.

I frequently think about all the people that love what they do, work for a great company, and think everything is perfect. Well, it probably is until they walk in one day and get the call or the announcement that they are being laid off.

From being on the LinkedIn site daily, I have developed a keen sense of when things are not going well. When I see a name keep popping up with new connections after having been dormant for some time, I know that things are not well in careerland for them.

Let me share a piece of advice: it is a lot easier to write a profile, update it, and tweak what you have online when you are gainfully employed. The worst time to create something is when you are in the throes of trying to find new employment.

Where is your success list?

The reason you keep track of your accomplishments online is that you can then easily recall them at any given time. If you do not have a system for tracking your work highlights, you put your career at a disadvantage. This was always a major flaw of the yearly performance review — “Now think of all the great things you have done for the last 11 months.” If you do not keep track, you will invariably forget some.

Are you lost as to where to start? Search for your title at LinkedIn and see whose profile comes up. Read through a few and you should be able to create the framework for putting yours together.

Another key is to develop your career narrative in MS Word so you don’t feel pressured working it up on the actual LinkedIn site. Once you are pleased with what you have, copy it from Word and post it. You should also create an action plan that allows you to keep a success list of your accomplishments. Once something is documented on your list, post it, too.

Remember, you can’t be found if no one finds you interesting.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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3 Comments on “Can You Be Found? Why You Must Personally Invest in Social Media

  1. I appreciate this article. Social media must be a personal investment. However, my approach is a bit different. Instead of wanting people to find me interesting I use social media as a learning and personal development tool that has led to passionate connectivity and personal relationships. You address LinkedIn a great deal. Do you think other social media channels hold as much value in the recruitment/ job search process?

    1. Not at this time. LinkedIn is the space for recruitment. All surveys back that up. But Twitter and Facebook will come on as an alternative over time.

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