Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Thing 12a

When we did Thing 12 it got me thinking about the ways in which social media could be used as a career development tool.  However, when I looked through the library literature there seemed to be a lot on using social media to promote your library services, and less of an emphasis on using it for your personal development.  But just as I was beginning to think there wasn't anything out there I stumbled on a number of people giving advice and tips on how to use it for career development.

I found this post on the LISNPN website by Theresa Schultz called 'Curating your Career' which is to be the first in a series of career-related posts.  What really stood out for me was the section on what it takes these days to promote your career.

“More than ever, our professional reputations need to be public and visible.  It’s no longer enough to put in your hours at your job, do well, and hope to get noticed by superiors.  That model worked when you were likely to stay with an employer, or within a small geographic area, for your entire career.  Today, it’s not enough to have a career; you have to curate your career, just as you would a valuable collection.  What could be more important to your career than your reputation?  It’s not built on hard work alone.  You need to demonstrate that you’re interested and active in your field, that you have something to say and know how to say it, that you not only see the problems out there, but are capable of developing solutions.  The solutions don’t have to be perfect, the activities don’t have to be dull, but you must do something.”
Theresa also talks about the importance of creating a brand, something we covered back in Thing 3, but that I didn’t fully understand the importance of back in those early days of CPD23.  She points out that people who have a professional presence online will have an edge over competition who do not.  Blog posts, Tweets, interaction on forums can all be used as evidence that you are engaging with the wider library profession.  It seems all the more important these days than it used to that you have this visible proof, and when you think that most people will be doing it in their own time rather than in work hours, it shows a real commitment to both your career and the profession as a whole. 

With this in mind it was interesting to read about a recent presentation Jo Alcock made at Oxford Social Media 2011 on marketing yourself online, which you can see here.  Some of the main points she made were;
  • Know your key skills so that you can express them clearly when opportunities arise
  • Think of a few elements to your personality/style/manner that you would like to convey as your personal brand, and express those in online and face to face communications
  • Be consistent with your use of social media – use the same username where appropriate, same visual style, language style, and professional/personal mix
And finally, I stumbled across a piece by the Guardian recently about blogging for your career, last Friday they hosted a live Q&A session where a panel of experts gave advive on using blogs to help boost careers.

At times it did tend to have more of a journalism bias, but there were some very good points made about the increasing use of social media for this purpose.  Jenni Retourne, who blogs on the beauty industry, shared some of the advantages to blogging that she has found;

My blog helps me get new clients because:
a) it is read by people in the beauty industry, so if a brand owner is reading it and happens to be looking for a beauty social media specialist or a beauty copywriter, she is much more likely to get in contact with me because 1. She knows I exist and 2. She can see from my blog posts that I know what I’m talking about (hopefully!).
b) My blog demonstrates that I really understand the beauty industry and am very passionate about it. This helps when companies are deciding whether to hire me or another company, as it shows I am not just paying lip service to the fact that I love the work I do.
In addition she points out that;
My blog also reminds existing clients about the services I offer. There have been numerous times when I have needed to hire freelancers or suppliers and I cant remember the name of a company that does the work I’m looking for... so I’m sure people are the same with me. Whereas if my contacts have a blog post popping up in their inbox on a regular basis, they are much less likely to forget what it is I do.
Hristina Hristova, global social media manager for Acronis, a company specialising in backup, recovery and cloud computing, added that;
Like Facebook and Twitter, personal blogs are something recruiters undoubtedly check before making their choice, especially in the online industry. It is important to show you're an expert in your field through your professional writing style, slick-looking design and actual blog content. It is a great way to not only share your passions, but also showcase your portfolio.

A number of the other panelists commented that while they may not have been discovered by employers through their blogs, it has been of benefit to send a link to the blog in job applications, and that has been an advantage.

The main point I took away from these comments was how useful your blog, and any other social media you choose to employ, can be in showcasing your talents.  It seems that in the ever increasing jobs market using such tools to promote your skills and experience may well be able to give you the edge you need to get the job of your dreams.

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