"[Hiring companies] want to see what people are doing within the tech community, the development space — are they contributing? So I encourage people to have a strong digital profile as well as a resume. And LinkedIn is the primary tool for a strong digital profile," says Doug Schade, principal consultant in the software technology search division at WinterWyman, a Waltham, Mass.-based recruiting firm.
Schade says savvy candidates know how to leverage social media to separate themselves from the pack. They don't just paste traditional resumes into their LinkedIn profiles but rather focus on showcasing themselves with links and presentations that highlight their skills and accomplishments.
"There is an opportunity to be more robust with one's persona," Schade says, "because social media is used by hiring managers to gain more intel, gain more insight."
Web developer Avery Anderson, 27, gets that. A 2008 graduate of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Mass., Anderson holds a degree in mechanical engineering, but she decided that wasn't the best fit for her after working in the field for a year.
Anderson did some contract work in robotics, and then in February 2010 she sought out a Web engineer position at an Internet startup for wine aficionados called Second Glass. "Web development seemed like a huge opportunity, but I didn't have a lot of experience, so I started with a personal website. It was like, 'See, I can make a website.' That got me in the door," says Anderson, who was hired right away.
When she left Second Glass in April 2012, Anderson turned to her website again, updating it to reflect more of her skills and personality. She says her site, along with her LinkedIn profile and her account at GitHub, got plenty of traffic; she estimates she was contacted by about 50 recruiters during her two-month job search, and those contacts led to nearly 10 interviews— including some Skype sessions.
Anderson landed a software engineer job with Minerva Project, a startup that's building an elite online university. Although she was introduced to the organization through a roommate, she says she knows the company checked her out online before she even walked in the door. "People Internet-stalk everyone before meeting in person," she says.
And even though she's not looking for a new job now, she maintains her personal website to provide what she calls "a landing page" for people who want to know more about her and her work — and that's particularly important because she's trying to gain more experience, recognition and speaking engagements.
"It's not just about what jobs you get. Every time you do things like that and work your way into the community more, you make yourself more valuable as an employable person, you build your reputation," she says.
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