Today’s post is by Miriam Salpeter — owner of Keppie Careers. She teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to leverage social media, writes resumes and helps clients succeed with their goals. Miriam writes for U.S. News & World Report’s “On Careers” column, CNN named her a “top 10 job tweeter you should be following” and Monster.com included her in “The Monster 11 for 2011: Career Experts Who Can Help Your Search.” She blogs at KeppieCareers.com and GetASocialResume.com.
Why do companies hire the people they hire? Is it always because the selected candidate is the absolute best qualified to do the job? It’s hard to quantify, but my guess is probably not. Hiring is a complicated art involving selecting a person to do a job, but, often more importantly, someone who is a good “fit” for the role.
Think about interviewing someone to join your family – someone you need to see and spend a lot of time with for the conceivable future. You may be interested in particular skills, depending on your family’s culture. (Cooking? Softball? Driving?) At the end of the day, you probably want to select the one who won’t annoy or embarrass you; someone willing to pitch in (even if it is not his or her job), the candidate who can communicate – and who people like to be around.
It’s not surprising to learn these emotional intelligence skills are gaining more focus and impacting job seekers. A quick definition is in order. Here is one that I like and is easy to understand from Mike Poskey, VP of Zerorisk HR, Inc:
Emotional Intelligence…is defined as a set of competencies demonstrating the ability one has to recognize his or her behaviors, moods and impulses, and to manage them best according to the situation.
Companies are incorporating emotional intelligence into their hiring processes, with good reason. The Sodexo(one of the largest food services and facilities management companies in the world) blog reminds readers that “businesses that will succeed in the 21st century will be the ones that allow employees to bring the whole of their intelligence into the work force – their emotional and intellectual self. Not only does this impact morale, but productivity increases, too.” A recent study from Virginia Commonwealth University shows that “high emotional intelligence does have a relationship to strong job performance — in short, emotionally intelligent people make better workers.”
To be successful in a job hunt, you not only need to demonstrate an association between what the employer wants and your skills and accomplishments, you need to be able to tell your story in a way that makes it obvious you have the emotional intelligence/emotional quotient (EI/EQ – or soft skills) to fit in. Companies want to hire a candidate who will work well in the team; they all seek someone who will contribute and get the job done with finesse. Most seek employees they will trust to represent the company graciously. No one wants to be embarrassed.
This is why social media is such a great tool for job seekers. A job seeker with a pristine online portfolio and nothing questionable in her digital footprint makes a strong case for actually being someone who knows how to negotiate the digital world where we all function.
Using social networking tools to illustrate your expertise can provide entree into a network of professionals writing and talking about the topics important for you and your field. If, for example, you write a blog to showcase your knowledge of the restaurant industry, or use Twitter and Facebook to be sure people understand you know a lot about finance, you have a chance to connect with multitudes of potential contacts, any one of whom may connect you to the person you need to know to land an opportunity.
At the same time you demonstrate your expertise online and grow your network, you are also giving people a taste of the type of person you may be in person. Granted, some people have a distinct online-only persona. Many of us know people who seem mean and spiteful online and are amazing friends in person. Certainly, the opposite is possible.
However, for the most part, it’s safe to assume how people act and communicate online represents how they behave in person. When we get to know people via social media, by sharing tweets (including those all important personal tweets about what we’re eating, watching, and doing for the weekend), trading comments on blog posts, and keeping in touch via Facebook and LinkedIn, we are part of the longest job interview – with a very long “tail.”
No doubt, for some people, social media is dangerous for their job search. The people who aren’t attentive to details (and don’t untag themselves in inappropriate photos), the ones with short tempers and no filter who share every thought, and those who complain about people or things and appear excessively negative online. In an environment where employers are reviewing digital footprints, those people, who are not illustrating high levels of emotional intelligence, may have difficulty landing jobs.
The flip side? If you know your business, connect and share easily online, make new friends and contacts, and try to give at least as much as you hope to receive, social media may be just the “social proof” you need to help you stand out from the crowd.
My book, Social Networking for Career Success, shows you how to leverage the “big three” tools (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook), and describes how blogging and many other social media tools can help job seekers distinguish themselves. Learn more at www.socialnetworkingforcareersuccess.com. Download a free chapter HERE.
Miriam Salpeter, MA
Coach, Speaker, Author