When was the last time you actually affixed a real postage stamp onto a real envelope and then dropped it into a real mailbox?
Many of you may not realize this, but there was a time when resumes were actually typed onto paper (using a typewriter or Wordstar if you were a nerd), inserted into an envelope and mailed out for each application you make. You differentiated yourself (at least visually) with higher quality paper, typed instead of handwritten and taking extra effort to ensure that the postage stamp was aligned just right. This was usually done on a Sunday after reading the classifieds section on a Saturday. Then you sat by the phone unless you were important enough to carry a pager.
A couple of anxious weeks later, you could get beeped or your mum might remember to tell you about a call she got from some personnel manager from ABC company. (Yes, personnel manager). Otherwise, you actually received a rejection letter. A real letter!
In today’s world of smartphones & emails, nanoseconds & terabyes. A job posted on a Tuesday night will garner 200 to 300 applications by Wednesday morning. Where your rejection could arrive in your inbox within 10 minutes of your application (if at all), where your competition could be from Honduras to Hungary, from Austria to Australia (These are two different countries; trust me). The job seeker experience takes on a whole new plane.
In the middle of these, you find Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and of course LinkedIn. I’ve detailed the value of LinkedIn here before and should not belabour the point, but I will.
Many job seekers still treat LinkedIn like a football match (That’s soccer for you American readers). You have a favourite team, you wear their colours on your back and face. You buy a ticket and you crowd in the stadium with the other 50,000 spectators cheering your team. That is as close to the pitch as you will ever get. The real players are sweating it out in the middle of this cacophony. You enjoy any success vicariously. You don’t get to kiss the trophy.
Now imagine you are sitting in a crowd of 330,000,000 spectators watching a few slug it out. That is the reality of your experience in LinkedIn if you do it wrongly. You bought the ticket and you turned up at the game but you’re not going to get to play. Period.
The folks choosing the players (recruiters) are not going to walk the stands and pick you out for your day in the sun, even if your name is Messi or Ronaldo or Fandi. You have to wear your studs, elbow your way through and crash the party.
I don’t have any tips to share. No quick fixes. Just sounding out what you probably already know but didn’t dare believe it to be true.
One thing you may not know, LinkedIn is aiming for 3,000,000,0000 members. There’ 9 zeros in there in case you’re counting. Hold tight onto your root beer when you’re cheering for the real players then.
” LinkedIn is just a formality if you don’t do it the right way.”
This article first appeared in LinkedIn Pulse here.