Biggest Career Mistakes in a Web 2.0 World
As career coaches, we work with talented and knowledgeable professionals every day. Yet, despite their level of accomplishment, we see them making mistakes in managing their careers in a Web 2.0 world. It’s hard to blame them, given the rapid rate of change on the Internet. Even so, it’s critical to address these errors. Read on for common mistakes you should avoid.
Mistake #1: Assuming that social media is a frivolous preoccupation of the younger generation
As of February 2009, the fastest growing segment on Facebook was women over 55. Increasingly, age distribution changes have led to social media being dominated by what has to be referred to as “middle-aged people.” Today, 57% of social media users are over 34 years old, with 19% aged 45 – 54 and 10% aged 55 – 64. The average age for users of the popular business networking site, LinkedIn, is 44 years old. Social media has become a way for mid-career professionals to find each other.
Case Study: Keith, a displaced business analyst in his late forties, was ready to network but doubtful of the value of social media for his job search.
Like many others, he saw it as the province of tech savvy Millennials. However, with the recognition that he could at least use it as a tool for organizing his contacts, he ventured onto LinkedIn. He was disciplined about using the site, and soon realized that he was growing a large and powerful network that was not only
helpful to him but also to others. Over time, he landed a job in his own field via a LinkedIn connection, but not before becoming a recognized speaker on LinkedIn and online networking.
Mistake #2: Thinking that LinkedIn is only for job seekers
It’s true that the number of people who turn to LinkedIn as a job search tool has grown, but LinkedIn is also used by an array of business professionals for staying up to date with colleagues, marketing, and staying visible within their professional communities. With over 60 million users in 2010, LinkedIn continues to grow at a dramatic rate, increasingly becoming the anchor site for business people on the web.
Case Study: Pamela is a New York City based television director/producer with multiple projects and assignments, including serving as a studio manager for a video bio company. Well connected in the professional community, she doesn’t lack for work. Yet, she also maintains a rich LinkedIn profile. Pamela uses her LinkedIn summary to tell her story, including key accomplishments, current projects, and interests. As well, she features her work in a short video bio. Pamela has established a powerful public persona that invites people to get to know her and possibly work with her on new projects. See her profile for yourself.
Mistake #3: Downplaying the need for an online presence to achieve professional goals
Woody Allen, filmmaker, actor, and comedian, once remarked, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” In a world dominated by the Web, this has never been truer. Social media is having a dramatic impact on the way we live our lives. Today, with significant numbers of people – including people you know – migrating to online social spaces, there is an expectation you’ll be there too! Indeed, if you don’t show up on Google it’s as if you don’t exist. This can lead to missed opportunities.
According to an online reputation study commissioned by Microsoft in 2009, 79% of US hiring managers and recruiters review online information about job applicants. It’s now common practice to do a Google search on people who may become business partners or providers. Since success will increasingly be driven by your web presence, an online public persona is a must.
Mistake #4: Creating a LinkedIn profile that is a cut and paste of your resume
The style and tone of your resume is not especially attractive as an online profile, especially if filled with “corporate speak.” Just as you would never read from your resume at a networking event, don’t waste space on your LinkedIn profile with anything other than language that is compelling, engaging, and memorable. Tell your story in a personal, human voice that’s inviting to readers.
Case Study: Simone, a young professional who graduated in 2007, did what most young people do when looking for a new job. She copied and pasted her resume into her LinkedIn profile. Not surprisingly, it read like a resume, and had little appeal. Fortunately, after working on her career strategy with a career coach, she saw the need to change her profile. She prepared a fresh summary using a first person, human voice that tells readers who she is and what she can bring to their organizations – prompting an almost immediate inquiry from a CEO who wanted to speak with her about a position with his company.
Mistake #5: Relying on years of experience and transferrable skills to stand out in the marketplace
Today, with significant global shifts transforming the world of work, job titles and skill sets are becoming a commodity. You can no longer stand out by virtue of your career history, no matter how admirable. What you need in order to shine is a compelling online presence that conveys what makes you remarkable and makes others want to connect and interact with you. To motivate others to connect, you need a winning profile that demonstrates your value.
Case Study: Joe is a senior banker, a talented professional with skills that transfer easily among financial institutions. Whether it’s building business, generating revenue, or assessing and managing risk, Joe can do it. Just like a lot of other bankers. Yet, there’s this other thing about Joe. He’s a remarkable coach who knows how to build a performance culture; he is so good, in fact, that he has earned a reputation for his ability to mentor and develop other senior bankers and executives. So, in preparing his LinkedIn profile, he made it a point to stress that he is passionate and capable leader who can achieve uncommon and aggressive results through the development of others. Look at his profile to see what he says.
Mistake #6: Holding on to the idea that it’s “who you know” that gets you ahead
It’s a long held belief that to get ahead “who you know” matters more than “what you know.” There’s a new truth: getting ahead depends on “who knows you.” The challenge now is to be found and get known. It’s key to building and enhancing your reputation so that members of your brand community see you, in the words of Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, authors of Trust Agents, as “one of us.” Being seen this way is akin to being regarded as an insider; someone “in the know” who can be trusted with information that is only available to members of the “inner circle.” Being known can get you on the short list for opportunities, giving you an edge in an ever more competitive world.
Mistake #7: Treating people online as superficial contacts, with no possibility of turning it into a “real relationship”
There was a time when online relationships were not seen as real relationships, but as fragments of virtual reality. There was also a time on social networking sites when the loose designation of friend or contact was tied to a numbers game played online, with relationships never quite translating to “real life.” No more. Today, social media is driving an ever-increasing range of face-to-face, “real world” meet ups – many of them leading to productive partnerships. The people who can unlock new opportunities are often the (real) people you meet online.
Case Study: Coauthors Carol Ross and Walter Akana provide an example. Several years ago, Walter read a blog post a mutual friend had written about Carol, so it was natural that he would follow her on Twitter when he found her on there. Carol checked out Walter’s blog, and immediately called Walter, having read enough to know that they had shared interests and similar ways of approaching topics. Thus began a virtual relationship, on Twitter, through email, and over the phone. Over time, this blossomed and into a collaboration on several projects, including paid work for a large university. More importantly, Carol and Walter became friends and now have a “real relationship.”