Fighting Your Way Out of the “Um”s

Whether you’re doing a public speaking stint or not, peppering your verbal sentences with “um” and “you know” can make you appear uncertain at best and unconvincing at worst.

So says Paula Statman, one of the expert speaking coaches quoted in the BBC’s “The secret to stopping your ‘ummms’,” which I found quite timely as I’m preparing to do some speaking in the upcoming months.

I already do a weekly stand-up report, and have resolved to watch my phraseology.

Here’s one of the tips I just learned:

Instead of using filler words to allow your mouth and thoughts to catch up, just pause instead. An ‘um’ only takes a second. So will pausing, but it’ll have far less of a damning impact.

Unless, of course, you lose your entire train of thought at this crucial moment. Stay engaged!

Get more tips here.


5 ½ Social Media Tips for Job Seekers

When I was unemployed, I used to wish I could get paid to job search. It sure felt like a full-time job!

Cover letters, job listings, networking events…with all that time, energy, and sometimes money invested, you don’t want a decision made against you before you even know you’re being considered.

But that’s exactly what’s happening. With social media handing us the good, the bad, and the ugly within seconds, your carefully-crafted persona can get buried.

How can you help the hiring manager make the “right” decision–the one that leads to your interview?


5 1/2 Social Media Tips for Job Seekers

1. Cyber-stalk yourself.

Google now, Google often. Sick of hearing about it? Google yourself anyway. The recruiter or hiring manager will. The few seconds it takes to type in your name are worth it, even if you think you’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve found myself listed on Spokeo and ZoomInfo with nary a word to me.

How do you fix unpleasant surprises? If it’s on a site you don’t control, try contacting the website administrator and asking them to remove the content. The length of time varies for Google to re-index the page, but soon that content will be hidden from search results (I can’t vouch for the Wayback Machine, however).

If you can’t get the content removed, work on pushing your online positive presence. Posting quality content on other sites, setting up an or WordPress account with your name, and creating a Google Profile are just three of the things you can do to push the undesirables out of your top 10 search results.

2. Update your LinkedIn status (and your entire profile).

Personally, I like it when my LinkedIn profile shows up first in Google search results. Posting frequent status updates helps do that, with the added benefit of showing how present and engaged you are in your professional life. That’s a whole lot of win for relatively minimal effort.

Just be selective when posting: Make sure what you post is in line with your professional goals. This is a great opportunity to let people know about a project you’re working on or a certification you’re pursuing, or something cool happening in your industry.

While you’re there, optimize the rest of your profile. Lisa Dougherty’s “16 Tips To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile And Enhance Your Personal Brand” is an excellent, comprehensive guide.

Just don’t: Sound desperate. Leave off any variant of the “I need a job” tagline.

You probably don’t want to LOOK desperate, either.

3. Check your Facebook privacy.

Facebook. Still on it? Keep reading. It’s easy to get caught up in all the fun stuff and forget that Facebook is a business designed to make money on you. You may not be paying in actual currency, but you are paying in something arguably more priceless: Information. Both advertisers and your future employers are happy to take advantage.

So while you’re virtually toasting that new baby or posting that meme, take a moment to go through all of your privacy settings, including those on your photo albums. I made a Facebook Privacy Tutorial that is probably obsolete as I write this sentence, but try it or something similar for guidelines.

Also, consider separating business and personal contacts into Friends lists so you always know exactly who is reading what you post.

Now, you may not care what people think of you, or want to work for an employer who would frown on certain activities, and that’s entirely your prerogative. It’s still good to be aware of the messages you’re sending even when you’re offline.

4. Watch what you tweet.

My dad always told me, “Don’t write anything you wouldn’t shout from the rooftops.” I am sure a lot of us have heard that from many sources. Now take that to Twitter.

For job search and career management, Twitter is bursting with resources and people eager to help you find your way, all day, every day. This platform is a great way to make new connections who in turn will lead you to even more connections.

Just be careful what you tweet in turn. Unless you protect your account or only tweet under pseudonyms, everyone can see everything you’ve ever posted–just take a look at 30 Tweets That Will Make You Lose Your Job!

Also, monitor your followers: If you see a recruiter following you, invest some care in your tweets. ResumeBear (now Tavorro) has noted that recruiters can set up RSS feeds of keywords to help screen out potential candidates.


5. Build your brand, inside and out.

Help someone out in a LinkedIn Group. Start a blog with posts related to your industry or career. Join other professional online communities and become an active part of their forums. Sign up on career-building websites and become a mentor.

What’s all this got in common? With any one of these, you’re showing potential employers how experienced you are, what skills you have, how you interact with others, and what others think of you.

Then what? (Here’s the 1/2🙂

Get outside.

Social media is only one part of your career efforts. You need to balance all your hard work offline as well. When you attend that live networking event or local meet-up that contains people from your online communities, challenge yourself to take your connections to the next level.

Remember, every time you talk to someone online or off, stranger or friend, you’re involved in the golden networking equation: Everybody you meet has a job or knows somebody who has a job, and jobs mean companies, and companies mean hiring opportunities.

When you pay attention to how you use social media, your next job could be just a connection away.

What’s helped you turn your job search into a job?

Additional resources:

–Disclaimer and attributions–

Adapted and updated from my post on the myPathfinder Career Blog, and also here on LinkedIn.

I’m not a career or a job search expert, I’ve just got a background in them. I post about things that have worked for me and what I’ve seen work for others in the hope that these experiences will help.

How to Be a Social Media Rockstar For Your Brand

social media concept

I’ve been doing social media for a few years, but I still get the jokes that I play on Facebook all day. That’s okay; I AM on Facebook all day. And Twitter. And G+. And YouTube. And LinkedIn. And…you get the picture.

But while it’s fun, it’s not exactly playing. One false move and all the good things you’ve done are mysteriously forgotten. The internet has an astonishingly good memory for bad news, and a suspiciously selective one for good deeds.

If you’re doing social media for a living, you already know that it takes time, tactics, strategy, and a whole heap of awareness—and that’s just one set of cornerstones. You may still be able to get some sleep, but social media never does. And there’s always someone watching.

Now that I’ve creeped you out (and myself), here are a few things I’ve learned over the past few years, free of charge (we’re all in this together):

  1. Put a face on it.

    Talk to people like they’re people, not faceless customers; talk to people like you’re a person, not a faceless brand. You’re having a conversation, not a sales pitch—at least, don’t make it seem like a sales pitch—so leave the corporate speak on the company website.

    How you do all this will depend on your audience, which means you’ll have to do a lot of listening. Be respectful and be aware of the company brand at all times, but don’t be afraid to inject some personality into it. And make it clear who you are: If you’re responding to people under a corporate logo, include your name.

  2. Pay attention.

    Automated tools make it easy to set it and forget it, but you still have to be there to respond to questions and concerns or you lose credibility fast. I love using Hootsuite to set up tweets throughout the day because doing some automation frees me up to respond in real time where I can, as well as do all the other social media things I need to do. As a bonus, someone in a different time zone will wake up to your tweet as you’re off to your hard-earned rest.

  3. Embrace negative feedback.

    We all love positive feedback, but it’s how you work with negative feedback that will help you learn and help make your company look good to everyone watching. My view is if someone cares enough to take the time to complain about a specific issue, that means you can work with that person. You can’t work with whispers, but you sure can with shouts.

    That said, learn to tell the difference between someone with a legitimate grievance and someone just wanting to stir up anonymous trouble. In extreme situations, follow your social media policy, call on your team, don’t feed the trolls, and take it offline as quickly as you can.

  4. Don’t be afraid to ask.

    Sometimes the best way to figure out what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what people want from you is simply to ask. People love giving advice, especially if you show that you respect what they have to say. I asked the community on one of my Facebook Pages what they’d like to see in a guide we wanted to create for them. The answers poured in! So ask generally or ask a few key supporters, but ASK.

  5. Keep learning.

    If there’s one thing social media has taught us, it’s that we never stop finding out something new. Build in time for research. Block off your calendar if you have to, but do it. Take advantage of free webinars on LinkedIn, BrightTalk and HubSpot; attend Twitter chats and look at other sites in your niche to see how they’re managing their communities.

  6. If you’re going to panic, do it on the inside.

    That adage about never letting them see you sweat holds just as true online as off. Build yourself that team of supporters, seek out advice, and do what it takes to calm down—and then respond to the situation.

  7. Have FUN.

    Yep, even after all that. Social media is something to enjoy even as you’re creating those campaigns and putting in extra hours. You’re reaching people. You’re helping people. You’re giving them what they need. It’s an awesome feeling.

What’s your advice for being a social media rockstar?