(Crystal A. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News Wire, 9/23/2011)
Millions of individuals logged onto Facebook yesterday to find a slew of changes to their favorite social media website, and also news of Google Plus going public. Navigating the ever-changing world of the web can be a challenge. Whether you’re a small business owner consistently trying to reach new clients, or an individual seeking information and connection, keeping up with the latest changes can mean the difference between communicating effectively or getting lost in cyber space.
Heather Coleman-Voss is the Ferndale Career Center’s social media expert. She’s also the one responsible for putting together the center’s calendar of classes to help people learn about things like social media, general computer skills, resume building, passion finding, networking and more.
Online networking can be extremely helpful in looking for work, and the Career Center’s Maximizing Social Media class is a great place to start. There is no fee to take the class and it is open to anyone. “Whether you are a job seeker, in transition, looking to upgrade your job, or if you’re a small business owner – everybody can benefit from improving their social media skills, and everyone is welcome,” Coleman-Voss said.
The class is offered each week, and it introduces attendees to the most popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and You Tube. It also explains blogging, and how using a combination of blogs and social media one can position themselves as a valued employee in any field.
A recent Ferndale Career Center success story involves a man in the automotive industry. “He started ramping up his social media and sharing relevant information about his industry in his online feeds. One of his postings was picked up by a recruiter on Twitter, who checked out his blog which combined an online resume with a blog. Because recruiters can assess your personality and experience as well as the knowledge he had about the industry via social media, they decided to interview him.
“They sent him through to the company manager. The company manager checked out his site. They came back with an offer that was $8,000 higher than the posting.” Coleman noted that without the hashtag #projectmanagement, the recruiter might never have found his posting.
Coleman-Voss said that Human Resource professionals are now starting to recognize the value of seeking out qualified individuals online, as opposed to putting up a job posting and sifting through hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes. “You can tell so much more from a person by their online presence,” she said. “You can see their personality, how they interact with others, how dedicated they are to their field.”
The class not only teaches people how to look for a job online, but how to give themselves a positive web presence. “The way I like to explain it is this: Imagine you are in an auditorium with 400 of your friends, and whatever you say you are saying to all them – in person. That is how Facebook actually works, so you need to remember that what you say is public – regardless of your privacy settings. This can either be tremendously positive or negative depending on what you decide to publish,” she said.
She noted that employers now have tools to search the online history of an individual. Companies hire organizations like Social Intelligence, which incorporates social media into pre-employment screening. This type of screening is in compliance with the consumer reporting agency (CRA) with processes and operations designed and operated in adherence with federal, state, and local employment laws as well as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
But apart from putting your best face forward, there is little to fear in getting online and getting to know other people in your field. “It can be intimidating,” Coleman-Voss said. “So it’s a good thing we have places like the Ferndale Career Center where people can learn these new skills and get help and support. The potential for career advancement, job opportunities and business networking is tremendous.”
Maximizing Social Media is one of four “core classes,” the others being Personal Branding, Networking Your Way to Interviewing Success, and Current Employment and Resume Trends. On top of that there are over 35 other more specific classes.
In addition to the classes, The Ferndale Career Center offers many services for job seekers and employers, including personal career advisors, a job developer who matches job seekers to specific, often private job opportunities, a youth program and a complete resource room for job seekers. The Ferndale Career Center is a MI Works! Agency, proud to be a part of the Ferndale Public School District. For more information: www.ferndaleschools.org/fcc and ferndalecareercenter.wordpress.com.