Battling unemployment in the digital dimension


unemployment!

“She needs me now but I can’t seem to find the time.  I’ve got a new job now in the unemployment line. And we don’t know how we got into this mess, it’s a god’s test, someone help us cause we’re doing our best.”

With an increasingly unstable world economy, the lyrics from the Script’s 2012 chart-topping hit have never rung more true.

According to a recent study conducted by Rutgers University in the United States, less than half of all 2009 graduates secured a full-time job within a year. Of that percentage, only half of these lucky hires reported satisfaction in their role.

That’s roughly 90,000 people struggling with unemployment and career dissatisfaction.

Experienced professionals are constantly forced to seek below their level, squeezing newbies out of the value-chain altogether.

The question stands: As a job seeker, what can you do to elevate yourself above a cess pool of stagnant talent?

What many people don’t realize, is that applying for jobs is now only one per cent of the battle. With the rise of the digital dimension, the tools now exist to self-promote your most valuable commodity; you.

Networking

The internet is a resource, not a solution. Job seeking professionals should use it as a tool to engineer genuine, real-world relationships rather than treating it as the means to an end.

After over a decade of polls, CareerXroads’ ‘Sources of Hire Survey‘ continues to show referrals as the primary hiring source across all industry sectors. Employers want to know as much as possible about potential candidates, including who you know and who else values you as a commodity.

Likewise, networking opens the door to jobs that have not yet been posted or may never be formally advertised. There is a whole volcano of sneaky career opportunities smoldering under the radar of main-stream recruitment.

Social Media

Most job seekers don’t bother to develop an online identity and feel that social media doesn’t apply to their industry. But the truth is, social media is multilateral.

At the end of the day, professional success comes down to one thing; confidence. If you don’t show any self-interest, why should anyone else? An active social media presence shows confidence in your skills, confidence in your industry, and  most importantly, confidence in yourself.

By posting examples of your work, re-tweeting industry news, blogging about your latest triumphs, you are providing tangible proof of your dedication and enthusiasm for what you do.

When your application eventually lands on their desk, employers will notice and applaud your multidimensional commitment.

The Direct Approach

The email inbox is where all good job opportunities go to die.

From the instant you click send, that email turns into Nemo, the clown fish. If you don’t follow it up with hyperactive persistence, an ocean of carnivorous sea creatures will descend to swallow your dreams whole. Not exactly, but close enough.

With today’s digital hiring procedures, HR in-boxes are flooded with hundreds of emails. Often you will never receive a reply. I have been told by several interviewers that I would not have been considered, had I failed to follow up.

Additionally, stalking businesses through social media portals is not only a good idea, it is expected. The editor of a magazine asked me in an interview, “have you liked us on Facebook yet?” Of course…

The Glory of LinkedIn

God help you if you are not on linkedIn.

As one of the most commanding social media networks, LinkedIn allows companies to pool their prospects within a single platform. Most importantly, it facilitates conversation between all walks of business.

By merging my Facebook friends with my account, I was shocked by the people I was suddenly connected to.

This is how I came to connect with Michael Lohan, the unfortunate brother of the drug slugging sensation we all know and probably don’t love. I can’t wait to harness that resource.

The Way Forward

The biggest mistake first-world entrepreneurs make is to view digital platforms as the soft copy extension of the CV. While a CV is a static, inactive slab, your online identity is a calico cat; purring your animated message to a pliant pool of potentials.

In a global professional climate where value is measured in eminence and billion dollar ideas are a brain-fart away, we all have to work a little bit harder to promote the unique within ourselves.

The next time you find yourself second-man down in an interview line up, log in, link up, and look sharp!

Planning your future: To know or not to know


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When it comes to decision making, there are two kinds of people.

The kind that keep their options open and embrace the possibility of the unknown and the kind that drown confusion in absolutes, seeking comfort in the security of long term commitments.

Group A and group B

While  group A has career, family and goals planned out by age 14, group B sees life as an endless string of surprises. We all know the type and while neither group is wrong or right, they have a lot to learn from each other.

As a die-hard member of group B, I find myself constantly in awe of  decision-dynamos  who are married, 6 years up the ladder in their chosen profession and have a clear-set path laid ahead. They know exactly what they will be doing in 5 years time and who they will be doing it with.

As for my decision-deficit amigos and I, we thrive on the possibility of change. The dusky obscurity of a world beyond the rabbit hole is intoxicating. It becomes difficult to determine what decisions must be made and what decisions will savagely stunt our scope of imagination.

Seeing beyond your A/B inclinations

Regardless of decisions, the most important thing to note is that both groups are ruled by fear; the fear of excluding opportunities weighed against the fear of losing stability.

Bravery is a challenging concept but when it comes to planning your future,  appreciating your relationship to the unknown is the key to setting your sites.

Are you running toward something or fleeing from something else?

Intellective honesty is the greatest power in the struggle to keep the specters of speculation from holding you back from what you want most.

If content is king, images are the crown jewels


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It seems that every day there’s another groundbreaking social media tool to play with, but when it comes to selling a brand, pictures pack the punch.

According to a review of the top 10 Facebook brands by marketing analytics company Simply Measured, photos are liked 200 per cent more than text updates and videos are shared 1,200 per cent more than links and text posts combined.

Instagram, purchased by Facebook in September of 2012 for more than $700m, holds strong as the worlds fastest growing social media platform. The site has more than tripled in growth in the last 12 months alone, exploding from 30m to 100m active users.

The question is, do you want your page to engage?

Interacting with your market audience

The most important side of social media is participation and in the right hands, photo-centric tools are the best way to interact with an audience. The truth is, people love taking photos as much as they love looking at them!

By encouraging users to join in the fun with their own snapshots, you invite creativity and quirkiness into your brand while spreading your message at the same time.

So what’s the secret to saddling this superpower?

Number one, get creative. Nobody wants to see 15 photos of the same thing from the same angle with the same filter. It’s almost as bad as those girls posting pouty-face pucker shots; the only way to distinguish one frame from the next is the subtle shifting of her snaggletooth.

Second, use hashtags with every post! Tags give your brand a sense of reliability and promote community engagement, the bread and butter of social media success. Your consistency has a snow ball effect, as photo prowlers pounce on your dependable messages.

Last, use photos that are REAL. Authenticity is the true power behind online images and instead of chasing photos airbrushed to infinity, users will target your brand because it represents something believable…and therefore, achievable.

Online dating: Social media at its best…and worst

For proof of visual impact, one has only to look to online dating.

Tired of the game and keen for a new way to entertain myself, I decided to give it a shot. In addition to scoring some good stories, I learned that setting up a dating profile is not all that different from any good social media strategy.

Marketing your brand is all about constructing a positive image that stands out among the crowd and is faithful to who you are. Guys trolling through matches need a reason to click, just like any consumer reviewing a product.

I learned quickly that being redundant and cliche is critical to avoid. Are you using the same vanilla opening lines as every other guy? “So, I’ve never tried online dating before, but I guess I’ll give it a shot, here goes.” We don’t need to hear your inner monologue, cut to the chase.

The real shocker was, despite a general effort by most to appear humble and objective, the pictures people chose to represent themselves spoke 1000 fold louder than the rest of their profiles. And God help you if you had no photo at all.

Call me conceited, but when deciding whether to meet a guy, I certainly steered clear of shirtless-selfie guy and dribble-faced drunkard. And let’s not forget all the ways we can be cliche through photos, thanks Freddie Prince Jr.

After all, what photo you choose to market your brand says a lot more about you than just what you look like!

Prolonged engagement

Give those photos some mojo because in addition to the interactive originality visual media infuses into the social media matrix, they hold attention longer and stronger. The explosive development of Pinterest, a site that allows users to accumulate a cyber-collage of visual content, is shocking marketers with users averaging 97.8 minutes per use.

Studies have shown that posts on the site are generating far more traffic than social media giants Twitter, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn and Google+, making it one of the most influential social media platforms of all time.

Unlike with text, consumers are not simply skimming content, but actually slowing down and submerging themselves in a headspace that engineers long-term connections.With a more organic feel than text, visual media is dominating the communications frontier because seeing is believing.

The images shared time and time again are the ones that hit a nerve with people, evoking emotion and tapping into a sense of humanity. Maybe that’s humour or inspiration, sadness or a rush of adrenaline, but as I learned in my brief foray into internet dating, you get a lot more out of an image than just what you see.

All things strange and all things beautiful


Leafing through my tattered, coffee and God knows what-smeared journal, I communed with the tornado of decisions that led me to this moment. Career, family, friends, future. Everyone has a plan, but you can’t anticipate the uncharted.

If someone had told me 2 years ago that I would be living in Australia today, I would have said, crackerjacks! No way. It seems like a lifetime ago that a tapestry of coincidental fragments conspired to bring me to Boston’s International Airport with all of my worldly possessions.

I can’t say that it was any one detail that inspired me to abandoned a wonderful and supporting family, stable job, and devoted network of friends for a foreign country. I do know however, that I found the idea intoxicating.

The day I left, so many questions were bouncing around in my head, but only one certainty. I’d never felt more alive. To me, moving 10 thousand miles to the other side of the planet was a delicious challenge. I had something exceptional to prove, I just didn’t know what.

The people I have met, the knowledge I have gained, and the sublime ubiquity of total independence has taught me that the most terrifying thing about life is the thing  you didn’t do. It swallows you whole; a looming nightmare of potentiality.

Settled in Sydney after well over a year, I thrive on a diet of comedy and common sense. Cultivating a clarified identity, the purpose of this blog is to record every current of excitement, every epic fail; all things strange and all things beautiful.

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