Melodie Tao, of MarketingMelodie.com, explains the importance of social media as tools for job seekers.
Please tell me about your background and how you came to be involved with social media.
I started out working in traditional media and marketing for four years focusing on radio ads, events, billboards and promotions for clients. Although Social Media had been around, it wasn’t until around 2007 when it became a tool people started using more effectively for business, so I began using it to market myself. I started my blog, MarketingMelodie, as a resource for people to learn about marketing. I noticed that it became more effective for clients to be online and to have their own profiles and websites than to place a traditional media ad, which led me to transition into online marketing. I worked at a couple full service online agencies in San Diego, and then a year later, I decided to follow my passion and focus on social media to help businesses, organizations, students, or anyone who wants to enhance their professional development. Today, I’m a marketing consultant specializing in social media and new technology.
How would you explain the term social media to someone who doesn’t know what it means?
Social media, unlike regular media (TV, radio, magazines) is interactive. Simply said, it’s social. There’s no social media unless there’s interaction between the consumer and the brand. It’s up to the brand to create an opportunity for their users to interact with them and create user generated content. Social media is also very personal. Individuals are using social media to create their own personal brands. If you’re looking for a job, your employer’s going to Google you. So it’s important that you have clean digital footprints.
Many haven’t yet taken the leap to explore social media. What do you think is holding them back?
I think social media is a shift that’s been happening so quickly that some people haven’t caught on yet. With more time, I believe people are going to get more integrated with social media because it’s everywhere. Right now, you hear a radio commercial, and instead of saying, ‘Call us,’ they say, ‘Find us on Facebook,’ or, ‘Follow us on Twitter’. Over time, I believe it’s going to become a norm.
Can you give me a breakdown of the top two social media tools that would be of the most use to job seekers?
Number one is definitely LinkedIn. These days it’s almost as important as a résumé. In many industries, employers look up a potential candidate’s LinkedIn before they invite him in for an interview. Since I work in an industry focused on new technology, it’s important that people I work with demonstrate they can use the latest technologies. I won’t consider hiring someone if they don’t have a LinkedIn profile.
Other tools depend on the type of job you’re looking for. It’s always great to have your own blog, especially if the blog is about the industry you want to work in. If you’re looking to work in architecture, for example, it would be beneficial if you had an architecture blog giving examples of tips or insights on great architecture. Or if you’re looking into working in real estate and you have a real estate blog, you can provide people with information and resources about house hunting, financing a home, etc. A blog is a great way to create content and be a resource for people. When an employer sees your blog on your résumé, they see you’re interested and knowledgeable about their industry, which will give you an edge over a candidate who doesn’t provide that resource.
I also recommend that people buy their own domain name and create an online portfolio, even if it’s one page. List the skills you have, projects you’ve worked on, and add links to your social networks.
Do you provide social media services for job seekers?
Yes, I teach marketing classes and guest lecture at universities and colleges where many of my lessons are focused on helping students with their career development through social media. University career centers hire me to teach seminars to students. Most of the consulting I do is for larger corporations or organizations. If an individual would like to engage my services, I host events such my Digital Media Dinner series where business owners and students can learn about topics such as branding and using Facebook and Twitter for business.
Can you recommend other resources for social media newbies?
There are an abundance of resources online so it’s important to find ones that work for you. Twitter is great for finding people who work in an industry you’re interested in. For example, I always post events and tips related to marketing and social media. Someone looking for information on these topics can follow me. I don’t have one specific resource, because new books, blogs, seminars, and events come up all the time.
There are a few tools I use to be more efficient. I use Netvibes.com to create my own personal dashboard which aggregate RSS feeds for all the blogs I read in one place. I also recommend Evernote.com. It’s a digital repository allowing me to keep track of my notes everywhere including photos, clips from websites, and even voice recordings. I also use Delicious.com, a social bookmarking tool where I can save different articles about careers, jobs, different companies I’ve worked with. If I’m conducting an online job search, Delicious is a great way to save websites offering jobs I’m interested in all in one place that’s easy to access on any computer.
For more resources on marketing and using social media for a job search, anyone can also follow me on Twitter and join me on Facebook.
So, let’s say all this information is too much for the beginner to handle at once. What would you say is the most important step to get started?
LinkedIn is the most basic network and the most relevant to job seekers. You can start by copying and pasting snippets of your résumé into your LinkedIn profile. It’s a professional networking tool, so for job seekers, I’d start there.