Anyone under the age of 30 is usually considered to be pretty tech-savvy. Being a college student or recent grad means you’ll be considered a near genius when it comes to a computer and the Internet. In our experience, our generation’s technology prowess is sometimes viewed with awe and fascination. Let’s be honest, young people are just better at using technology than older people. This divide certainly exists in the workplace where younger workers are expected to be good at solving computer problems and navigating the net, warranted or not. In the world of Twitter, Facebook and Google, it is more important than ever to make sure your tech skills are up to par when entering the workforce.
Getting a job
The Internet (invented by Al Gore) is not just a series of tubes. Information is instantly accessible, so why not use it to your advantage in your job search? Hopefully we don’t need to give a lesson in googling, but searching “cool jobs” isn’t going to get you the best result. Instead, use Google to identify specific companies in the field that interests you. Most companies will post open positions on their website under pages such as “Work for Us” “Employment” or “Careers.” Applying for jobs through a company’s direct website may give you a better chance than merely stumbling upon a position on a job board. After submitting your materials, be sure to follow up after about a week. Either call or email the contact listed and say that you are checking on the status of your application. This will show that you are still interested in the position and remind the company to look at your application if it hasn’t yet.
Hey did you know that you can use Facebook and Twitter for things other than stalking people? Use Facebook to check up on your friends who are already in the workforce – see if you want to know more about their jobs or if they like living in a specific city/country. Companies will also post information about jobs or recruiting on their Facebook and Twitter pages. It helps to follow companies through these sites because they will often post a job that you wouldn’t know about otherwise. Another great site, LinkedIn, is designed specifically to help people network. Create a professional profile filled with your experiences and skills and get connected with people. You never know when these connections will pay off. In today’s job market, it’s all about who you know and insider job leads that will give your application the edge.
While making a name for yourself online can be a boon to getting a job, not all attention is good. Google yourself (this is as useful of a practice as it is narcissistic) to know what sort of information is out there. Employers are increasingly vetting potential candidates online before interviews, so be sure to find out what is being portrayed on the web about you. If it’s not good, try to take down those Facebook pictures and delete the inappropriate blog posts. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about what’s already out there so make sure you have an explanation – because it will come up. Creating a personal web page is also a great idea if you have work samples that lend themselves to online displays. This could include examples of previous work, your resume, contact information, and testimonials. Do you blog? If the topic is work appropriate, reference it on your resume and highlight it in an interview.
On the job
Email, especially in Microsoft Outlook, is the most common form of workplace communication. Feeling comfortable and confident in your email writing skills will go far. Many of your colleagues will expect close to immediate responses to email, so don’t ignore them! Always proofread and double check the contact listed in the “To” line. If you feel uncomfortable about something you are about to send, make some edits to keep it professional. Also never assume that your emails are private. A good thumb of rule: never send emails that you would be embarrassed about if the head of the company got hold of it.
Technology is constantly changing and companies must learn to adapt and thrive in this new media world. Your computer and Internet skills are highly valued and being able to market yourself and engage with people online is an indispensable skill that you’ll use throughout your career. Who knew all those hours spent on Facebook and Twitter could finally pay off?