I have a podcast where I interview entrepreneurs about their journey from worker bee to successful business owner. One of the topics we usually discuss is social media: what works or doesn’t, what platform(s) they like, yada, yada. I bring this up because in reviewing my own social media presence, (I’ve been taking a social media break for a few weeks) I thought about its impact.
The first social media platform I joined was this one – LinkedIn. It was in September, 2008. I thought LinkedIn was an interesting concept – business-oriented and focused on professionals. And the reason I started looking at LinkedIn today is that I have a dear friend who’s currently underemployed and looking for a new opportunity.
I’ll call this friend Susan. Susan is a massively hard worker, she’s very professional, is good at what she does, and is a great friend. She’s also bilingual. She only has two things in the minus column: she’s over 50 and she doesn’t have a college degree.
Susan has worked in Human Resources as a specialist and generalist for over 15 years and yet finding a new opportunity has been extremely challenging.
You hear all sorts of stories about people over a “certain age” who, regardless of their experience, can’t seem to catch a break. There are even websites aimed at boomers or retirees who are still very vital and who would love to contribute. But here’s the thing. Ageism is real.
Susan was working at a company with a very toxic boss. The person just under the boss, I’ll call her the “sub-boss” was almost just as toxic. Both of these women were abusive to staff, although they were equal opportunity abusers; they picked on everybody. After a few years of dealing with this, Susan decided to look for another position. And she found what looked to be a great opportunity. Unfortunately, her new boss, another woman, was more toxic that the other two put together. Off on a tangent here but I think women in management should support other women and work with them to help everyone reach their goals. That, to me, is a win-win.
Anyway, that kind of abuse was not healthy, so Susan quit and is now working as a temp in a receptionist position. Gotta pay them bills, don’t cha know. All those years of HR experience are not being utilized. And that’s a shame.
What does this story have to do with LinkedIn? I’m getting to that, but as with most stories, the plot must thicken first.
Susan has applied to a boat-load, no a yacht-load, or cruise ship-load of job openings. She’d match a job listing, get interviewed, and then be told she didn’t match the job listing. She’d apply for another position where, if you held up her resume and the job listing to the light, they’d be identical. She’d interview and then be told she was overqualified.
She’d get suggestions from myself and our mutual friends on places to apply or look for jobs such as the member listing for the various chambers of commerce. I told her how, years ago, I would drive through industrial parks and copy the company names off of the buildings in the park, go home and look at those company’s websites and see what job openings they currently had. I was good at thinking outside the box.
When we met for lunch today, I asked if she had applied to such and such company. She had. I asked her if she had looked at such and such’s website lately. And she had. I suggested she buy a wig or change her makeup to look younger. Then I asked her about her LinkedIn profile and, shock and horror, she wasn’t using this tool to look for opportunities.
Susan is by no means as social media savvy as I am but I was surprised that with her HR background, she wasn’t using one of the best tools for business networking – LinkedIn. Her profile hadn’t been updated in two years. It didn’t have a picture of her smiling face. She hadn’t added her robust skill set for random connections to endorse. Come on. Admit it. You’ve endorsed skills that your connections have just by LinkedIn showing you that endorse button. I know I’m guilty of that. But it’s a nice thing to do.
LinkedIn is considerate enough to send me an email each week telling me how many searches I’ve appeared in even though I’m not in the market for new opportunities. In fact, a couple of years ago when I was looking for new job openings, I showed up in a search for a company that I had never even thought of as being a place that might be in need of my skillset. The IT manager had viewed my profile so I took a look at their website and voila, there was a job listing that fit my skills. Unfortunately, the company was a non-profit and it would have been a huge pay cut. But it did demonstrate to me the hidden job market you hear about all the time.
I gently admonished Susan for not taking advantage of her LinkedIn profile. Hey, it’s free! It’s not only a great way to advertise yourself as a prospective employee, it’s also an excellent resource for discovering companies and job openings. And you can join groups of like-minded people and learn from others. And after all, it’s a numbers game. The more jobs you apply for and interview for, the better your chances of landing that new opportunity. Preferably without a toxic boss. Sports metaphor coming up. The more shots on goal you take, the better your chances of that puck going into the net. GOAL!!!!!
I truly believe that Susan’s next career opportunity is out there waiting for her. She just has to find it. Or they have to find her. Through her LinkedIn profile. By the way, Susan, I’m going to be watching your profile and waiting to see the positive impact.