"Social proof" is your public Internet activity -- your public profiles and contributions -- reviewed by recruiters, potential employers, and others. Social proof is required for a successful job search, today.
Creating social proof doesn't require spending 10 hours a day dumping content and comments on every social network available. Spend time carefully creating solid content on LinkedIn and the other social networks appropriate for you and your career.
The LinkedIn-Resume Connection - 5 Important Benefits to Job Seekers
One of the interesting things I've discovered in my discussions with job seekers and employers is that employers often compare the job seeker's resume and cover letter with the job seeker's LinkedIn Profile.
Discrepancies between the resume and the Profile show up quickly, but so do accomplishments and other positive things.
LinkedIn has become the online portfolio for millions of professionals, and it offers 5 very important benefits to job seekers when employers make the LinkedIn-resume comparison. These benefits are the foundation of "social proof."
1. Validation of resume information
The assumption is that people are less likely to exaggerate in public, in front of their friends and LinkedIn "connections" than they are in private on a resume sent to an individual or posted privately in response to a job ad.
For decades (probably centuries), job seekers have been known to do a teensy bit of exaggeration on their resumes and job applications.
Having worked at Harvard University in my past, I know that the University Alumni Records Office was frequently asked to confirm that someone had attended, or graduated from, Harvard as indicated on their resume.
The answer was "No" almost as often as it was "Yes" which tells you something about human nature and Harvard as a brand.
Now, rather than contacting a university directly, employers can check the LinkedIn Profile to get a basic level of validation, enough to put a resume in the "possibles" stack rather than the "discards" pile or vice versa.
2. Demonstration of knowledge and expertise
In the past, it has been easy for people to proclaim that they are "experts" or "gurus" in a given field on their resumes, but hard to prove (or to verify). Not any more!
Through LinkedIn Groups, job seekers can demonstrate their expertise through intelligent participation in Group discussions. Recruiters are known to monitor Groups related to the fields they need the most or have the most trouble finding qualified candidates. LinkedIn allows members to join up to 100 Groups, and, at least while you are in job-search mode, that's a very good idea.
Daily or even monthly Group participation is not required (although it's a good idea for the most relevant Groups). By belonging to 100 Groups, you make yourself visible to thousands of people, like recruiters. Join groups for your industry, profession, location, hobbies, school and corporate alumni groups, and anything else that is relevant to you and your career.
When a LinkedIn member writes and publishes an article on LinkedIn (via the "Publish a Post" link on their LinkedIn home page), they have an opportunity to demonstrate both their knowledge and their writing skills to all LinkedIn members. And, thoughtfully, LinkedIn automatically links to their posts near the top of their LinkedIn Profile.
In their LinkedIn Profiles, people can also link to their other publications (books, ebooks, posts on their blogs, etc.), pull in the feed from their blog, and highlight their skills. The LinkedIn Profile becomes, in effect, a "live" online portfolio.
3. Corroboration of Accomplishments
LinkedIn Recommendations offer employers a form of "proof" that a skill or accomplishment proclaimed on the resume has been visible to someone willing to publish a recommendation for the world to see on LinkedIn. And the Recommendations are connected to specific jobs listed in the Profile, confirming the validity of that claim on the resume.
Yes, I've heard criticism that the LinkedIn Recommendations are always positive, so they can't be useful. That complaint makes little sense to me. Who offers references, even privately, that are not from someone with a similarly-positive opinion of the job seeker? Why would anyone expect different action or a different result? On LinkedIn, someone has publicly staked their professional reputation on the recommendations they make.
4. Proof of Accessibility
If you are active on LinkedIn, there's a greater likelihood that you can be reached by a recruiter or potential employer. Be sure to include non-work-related contact information (like a Gmail or AOL email address) in your Profile's contact information. If possible, include a non-work phone number (like a Google Voice number) that can be forwarded to your personal cellphone.
When a recruiter has many candidates to choose from, being actively visible and easy to contact is a very big advantage.
5. Affirmation of "With-It-Ness"
Having a complete and active LinkedIn Profile affirms that the job seeker understands how to operate in today's largest online business network. It also indicates that the job seeker understands the importance of the Internet to business, from marketing and sales to research and data collection.
"Old fogies" don't have LinkedIn Profiles and don't understand how important a LinkedIn Profile is for the success of their job search (which is really too bad!). By not having a solid LinkedIn Profile, they are proving they are out-of-date for today's business reality.
Having a public site where the information on the resume may be confirmed (or not) is an enormous help to employers. And, it is also a help to job seekers. Certainly, some people may not be 100% truthful on their LinkedIn Profiles, but they are often more truthful in a venue where false or misleading claims may be "outed" by people who know better. Social Proof comes to job search through, logically, social media.
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Susan P. Joyce is president of NETability, Inc. and the editor and chief technology writer for Job-Hunt.org and WorkCoachCafe.com. She owns no stock in LinkedIn and is not paid to promote LinkedIn.
This piece first appeared on Job-Hunt.org.