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Column Get 'white smoked' for the top job

Trying to move up the corporate ladder is always a competitive process – use professional social networking to help yourself stand out, writes Robert Mac Giolla Phadrig.

ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 14 2013, hundreds of thousands gathered in Rome to wait with bated breath for the billowing of the white smoke to signify the conclave had agreed on the historic appointment of a new Bishop of Rome. As the first New World pontiff appeared on the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica to address those in attendance with a simple “buona sera”, the world erupted along with the crowd as a seemingly unlikely and relatively unknown papal successor to Benedict XVI began his reign in the ‘top job’ as leader worldwide of the Catholic Church. Regardless of religious persuasion, the story of the incumbent Francis merits particular interest; he is widely commended for his personal ethics and his drive, and he has managed to gain the approval and recommendation of his peers, many of whom voted for him to take the Papacy.

While at first glance the religious and corporate worlds may seem at opposite ends of the anthropological spectrum, both are hierarchical organisations in which, the higher one goes, the fewer the opportunities and the greater competition one faces. Pope Francis went through a very tough screening process – only being elected on the fifth ballot of the conclave after missing out on the top job in 2005. Like the Catholic Church, trying to move up the corporate ladder is always a competitive process. Most endeavour to ‘fit in’, but, now the time has come to stand out.

Proper development, self-promotion and utilisation of social networks is one of the most important strategies to implement in order to climb the corporate ladder. Here’s how to stand out from crowd and engage social groups to be recognised and referred for that ‘top job’.

First things first: do you have your own goals?

The first step to getting to the job you want, is knowing what you want. Engage in a little self-reflection and conduct a career audit.

  • Where are you now in your career?
  • What interests you most about your current job?
  • How did you get to be in this role?
  • Where would you like to see yourself ultimately?
  • How do you get there with what’s at your disposal?
  • What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?

Branding yourself

Now you know what you want and have identified your own strengths – this is your ‘unique value proposition’. Now you need to communicate this and back it up.

Build an online professional profile
Almost all employers will do a Google or LinkedIn search on potential candidates. Make sure that when employers find you they are seeing information about your professional accomplishments and background that’s up to date. Be aware of your digital footprint.

Consider starting a blog
Writing a blog is a highly creative way to show your unique interests and opinions. Relate your blog directly towards your interests in your desired industry or career path. This is an invaluable means of self-promotion and opens up a new networking opportunity. Perhaps your readers will be so impressed with your initiative and ingenuity that can refer you or could hire you personally.

Develop and use your networks

Nowadays job-seekers have so much technology at their disposal, with the click of a button we can easily grow and engage with social and professional networks. Having a social media strategy that coordinates with your career plans will greatly increase the number of opportunities available to you.

Connect with the right people
Don’t just use the connections you already have. Figure out who you need to know to land a certain job—likely the hiring manager—then introduce yourself and make that connection.

Join groups and communities
Join industry-related or college/university-related groups or communities. Actively participate in discussions and identify individuals whom you can converse and network with.

Research your social networks
There is a huge amount of information online which can give you the inside track help. Research the competition, research who the hiring manager is and find out who or what you have in common with them.

Sometime we just need to ask – whether on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Google+, let your friends and followers know what you want. People will not realise what you want unless you tell them. Informing your network will allow you to access opportunities which you didn’t realise existed.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
Finally, the old phase of what comes around goes around could not be truer.

This is one of the best ways to engage with your network. Use LinkedIn recommendations to praise your colleagues and ask it from them in return. Share job opportunities privately and help others to find their ideal job if you can. Generally, communicating and sharing information by retweeting, forwarding links, articles, and other relevant social media will not only raise your online profile, but will encourage others to also do the same for you.

It is no coincidence that most people learned of the new Pope’s election through social media channels on Wednesday. Social media is an influential tool but isn’t the complete solution. Networking has always and will always play a key role in recruitment, socially and offline.

Remember the tried and tested methods of personal networking and the traditional CV also. Look to social networking as adding texture to the hireable you and as the component that may turn your smoke from black to white.

Robert Mac Giolla Phadrig is director of Sigmar and chairman of National Employment Week. For helpful video tutorials please click here.

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Robert Mac Giolla Phadrig
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