March 30, 2009

Get LinkedIn or Left Behind

With the increased competitiveness in the job market, job seekers need to take advantage of every opportunity to follow a job lead and make a good first impression. One of the easiest ways to engage recruiters and hiring managers is through the group function of LinkedIn.
  • Group Keyword Search. Use the search keyword search function to search for groups geographically and by industry.
  • Join Large Groups. Once you conduct a keyword group search, groups are listed by those with most members first. LinkedIn allows basic users to join a total of 50 groups. I recommend taking advantage of this free, networking service and join all available groups.
  • Personal Group Settings. LinkedIn allows you to control the number of updates you receive from the group administrator and if you prefer the group logo displayed on your page. Keeping the group logo confidential helps in keeping your job search under wraps.
  • Leave comments frequently. Leave interesting comments, tidbits, and other information on a regular and frequent basis that are professional and related to the group you are member of.
  • Take advantage of free messaging. Messages between group members are free. You need not be part of their network to contact them directly. Unlike inmails there are no monthly limits. Make sure to reference the group you are both a member of when contacting them directly.
  • Create your own Group. Take control of your networking and create your own group allowing you to control the content and members.
LinkedIn groups are another great way to develop your online brand presence in addition to the traditional uses and features of LinkedIn. Keep your name and professional profile fresh in the minds of business managers by utilizing this great LinkedIn feature.

March 25, 2009

April Speaking Engagements

The South Oklahoma City Chamber Presents:

"Media Mix-a-Lot: Using traditional media in conjunction with online social networking to promote your business" featuring Jessica Miller-Merrell

April 8th from 9:00 am-11:00 am or 1:00 pm-3:00 pm
John Massey Center
11919 South I-44 Service Road
Oklahoma City, OK 73173
or contact the South Oklahoma City Chamber to register. (Space is limited to 30 per session)

The OkACE Conference Presents

"Social Media & Recruiting:" presented by Jessica Miller-Merrell

April 17th from 9:00 am-4:30 pm
Will Rogers Theater
4322 N. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK

Visit to register.

Interested in having Jessica Miller-Merrell speak at one of your events? Email me directly at

Connect with Social Media Connect

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to drive traffic to your web site, but companies like Connect Social Media ( can help. Jim Quillen, owner of Connect Social Media assists companies with special social media projects like increasing web traffic through the utilization of free social media platforms, increasing your google rankings, and search engine optimization strategies. He also provides online workshops and training for businesses who are looking to streamline their online brand.

Jim who calls Oklahoma home aims to help businesses take the social media plunge. He says that interest in social media has increased over the last several months as the economic downturn has brought an increase in business.

Jim's easy to read website and blog includes valuable information and insights discussing a variety of social media topics in real time. His most recent post discusses Twitter and their use of new advertisements and how they will impact applications and Twitter's simple format. Other posts discuss the race for social media supremacy.

March 24, 2009

Mullets & Your Social Media Image

According to Wikipedia, a mullet is a unisex hair style that is short in the front and long in the back. The mullet began making appearances in the popular media in the 1960s and 1970s but did not catch on with the masses until the early 1980s.

Job seekers can learn from those that sport this fashionable cut when managing their online brand. A popular saying when describing a mullet comes to mind-

"Business in the front. Party in the back."

Wise words when considering your online brand while in the job search. Keep your business and professional profile in the forefront and in plain view of recruiters, prospective employers. and customers. Keep your personal life and party in the back. Users of social media need to be mindful doing your best to maintain a professional image while showing your creative and unique qualities at the same time.

Business in the Front

Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn,Blogs, and Twitter are great mediums in which to develop relationships and grab the attention of hiring managers and recruiters. Share your expertise and lead with the business in all you do. Your posts, pictures, and tweets should be at least 70% business related. Lead with interesting articles, tidbits, and information that is industry specific or related to the job in which you currently work or aspire to.

Party in the Back

The remaining 30% of your social media content can be related to your personal side but be weary. I have visited FaceBook profiles with one too many drunk pictures and tweets leading me to search for talent elsewhere. If you are unsure if something is inappropriate, ask yourself if your mother would approve. Items that your mother would approve and/or tolerate are generally appropriate to display on your social media profiles. Social media is all about interacting and developing relationships. I encourage you to tweet or post comments seeking input and feedback from others. Commonalities make you interesting which lead to engaging conversations with persons from a wide variety of backgrounds.

**A special thanks to Jim Quillen for inspiration! Visit Jim's site at

March 22, 2009

"Always Be Prepared" in the Job Search

With the current state of the economy, the girl scout motto says it best, "always be prepared" especially when it comes to your job search and my friend Mark is no exception. Four weeks ago, Mark started to feel uneasy in his job as a IT professional.

Over the last eight months, Mark had survived two reductions in force and been witness to massive cuts in employee benefit programs, expense reductions, and most recently offers to staff for unpaid voluntary time off. He is relatively tenured at the company working there for 5 years. Mark began to feel increasingly uneasy when his supervisor began requesting to be copied on daily emails and questioning daily tasks. So to protect himself and his family Mark did the following.
  • Network. Mark networks regularly both online using social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn in addition to the face to face networking events he regularly attends. He put his online and traditional network on notice that he was interested in entertaining new opportunities.
  • Update his resume. Mark updates his resume on a regular basis so within a matter of minutes it was perfectly polished and ready for distribution.
  • Scour the internet. Mark visited traditional job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder in addition to niche job boards like Dice as well as other non-traditional methods like Twitter using RSS Feeds and Craigslist.
  • Informational Interview. Using Mark's network, he was able to schedule informational interviews with two top companies he is interested in working at. If an opportunity arises at one of these companies that fits Mark's skill set, he will be at the top of the list.
The Result:
Mark is still in the job search but in his own words he feels more in control and better prepared in the event he is laid off. He has applied for three positions, has received one interview, and two informational interviews thus far.

For many of us in the job search, Mark's story is not that different from our own. The key is always being prepared because within a matter of days or minutes, your situation can change drastically. A good defense is the best offense.

Mark's Story. . . To Be Continued. . .

March 20, 2009

Why I Blog

For almost the last two years I have been an avid blogger. I enjoy it and oddly enough it brings sanity to my otherwise hectic life as a new mom, wife, and human resource professional (all in that order). Blogging has done a number of things for my career and personal life since I made my first blog post.
  • Subject Matter Expert. Done correctly an effective blog that provides solid and credible information can make you a subject matter expert leading to new opportunities like interviews, speaking engagements, and consulting opportunities. Since beginning to blog I've had the chance to do all three.
  • Develop Your Brand. As a blogger you control the content allowing for as little or as much of your personal life and your style to be demonstrated through your blog. Some bloggers choose to provide as little information about themselves as possible. The Evil HR Lady is a perfect example. Her blog is a great resource and also provides the reader little personal information about her. Her mysterious nature and anonymity is part of her personal brand essence.
  • Personal Growth. Managing a blog, your family, your career, and personal life all take time. My blog has allowed me to learn what's most important while gaining valuable experience in time management and professional development. Sometimes my blog posts are experiences out of real life and other times they are not.
  • The Power of Social Media. My blog has is opened doors that I had only dreamed. I am a firm believer in the use of social media to help build your brand through viral social media marketing. I've developed strong personal and professional relationships with individuals around the globe with whom I would likely not have met.
  • Confidence. And a belief that through hard work, proper planning and preparation, and a great support system that anything is possible.
Did I mention I'm an optimist?

Happy Hunting!


March 15, 2009

Keep Your Resume Atop the Miles of Piles

Just last week in Illinois, over 1,000 applicants were accepted in the first hour for 125 open grocery warehouse positions. Two weeks ago in Florida, a job fair in Miami had over 7,000 candidates in attendance. With so many unemployed and in the job search, even high qualified candidates and their resumes can get overlooked and lost in the shuffle.

Working with a professional recruiter or headhunter could be the answer to navigating the growing candidate pool. Decision makers and human resource professionals are now faced with thousands of applications per open position. Companies are overwhelmed with piles of resumes and phone calls from desperate job seekers looking to make contact with the decision maker. Professional recruiters and headhunters should be considered as an option for job seekers looking to land a position in a difficult, niche, or specific industry. These individuals work on a 100% commission and contract basis directly with the employer.

A recruiter who specializes in an industry can help you do the following:

  • Candidate Marketing. Headhunters sell and present the highest quality candidates and assist the job seeker in highlighting qualifications and experiences.
  • Connected. They are connected with industry leaders and know the industry trends. These individuals interact directly with the decision maker.
  • Forefront. Headhunters contact the decision maker directly. Job seekers who work with headhunters can avoid the red tape associated with applications.
  • Sales Oriented. Headhunters are revenue driven and typically no nonsense. Their direct nature is to the point and clear cut.

Contacting a recruiter is relatively simple. A LinkedIn keyword search for recruiter will result in thousands of hits. I recommend utilizing industry specific LinkedIn groups to find a recruiter(s) that specializes in your industry or a more specific keyword search. Do not be discouraged. Recruiters log your information in databases and will contact you once a position that meets your qualifications surfaces. Depending on your industry, qualifications, and ability to relocate will determine your marketability as a candidate for the recruiter. Contact them regularly, to keep you at the forefront of their minds and atop the resume pile.

Finding Your Balance. . .

Darrell Marsh received his layoff notice in May of 2008. Like millions of other Americans and Canadians, Marsh’s emotions ran the gamut from anger to depression to mourning. Marsh, however, would not let unemployment define who he is and his website, Balance Force ( was born.

Marsh’s site, Balance Force went live in November of 2008. It provides resources for the unemployed and is a community to share tips, network, and vent. His site which boasted over 10,000 visitors in its first month of existence serves to expose the face of unemployment and aims at assisting others in learning how to define themselves not by their job or lack of one, but by who they really are and who they choose to be.

Visitors to Balance Force can express their interest and opinions in a number of ways through art, video, photography, and even poetry. I was particularly intrigued by the “Giving Face” Tab. It is here that visitors are encouraged to use social media to educate the public about the face of unemployment in that this face cannot be defined. Unemployment has impacted those in all classes, educational backgrounds, ethnicities, and geographic locations. Balance Force seeks to educate its visitors that they are not alone and through hard work and spirituality they can find their life balance.

March 6, 2009

Creative or Overbearing Job Search Tactic: You Decide!

It's no secret that the job market is flooded with qualified professionals who are eager to work. Earlier today I received an interesting email from a first level LinkedIn contact who is currently in the job search. Receiving an email like this is not unusual given my profession, however, this particular communication caught my attention.

Hello - You are receiving this email because you are on my first level of LinkedIn connections. I am looking for a new career opportunity and I'd like to ask for your help to reach beyond my network to find it. I am offering a reward of $250 to the person that finds me the job I land as an expression of my gratitude for your help. Just refer me to an opening, introduce me to the hiring manager, or get my foot in the door somehow and when I land the job you get the $250 reward.

With the current market, I ask, is $250 really enough? Done correctly, an email like this could really make an impression to someone you network with virtually that you may not have had a personal face to face relationship with. Readers, what are your thoughts? How are you using your social media networks while in the job search? Leave your comments below.

March 3, 2009

My Life as a Professional Working Mom

As I head into week of two of my new professional life as a working mom, I am humbled by the others who have come before me. Over the last two weeks, I’ve learned some life lessons in time management, delegation, and relaxation. It’s not easy to find a balance but what keeps me going throughout the day is that smiling face to come home to.

This new responsibility is something that should not be taken lightly. Parents, who are contemplating entering the workforce after the birth or adoption of a child can use these life experiences and responsibilities to their advantage when marketing themselves to prospective employers.

Consider these skills when prepping for an interview and preparing your marketing materials:

  • Multi-tasking. This morning while breastfeeding, checking email, and preparing my toastmaster’s speech I came to the conclusion that in just twenty minutes I had accomplished more than what most people do in a half day. Job seekers can use their project and task management skills to their advantage. Make a point to include this special skill on your resume.
  • Manager. Whether it’s managing your family’s finances or your council’s Girl Scout cookie sales, managing and motivating others is great skill highly sought after. Use these experiences to your advantage and come to the interview with prepared explanations and examples.
  • Flexibility. All parents especially single parent households have to learn to go with the flow or be left behind. When the hiring manager questions your ability to adapt to changing environments or situations, confidently and without hesitation provide an example from your long laundry list.
  • Coach. Providing your child with honest and positive guidance and reinforcement while allowing them to grow and develop is another highly sought after management skill that can transition well to the professional world. As a manager or a parent we want our team to learn from their mistakes both good and bad.