Thursday, May 26, 2011

Brand yourself, LinkedIn tells job hunters

CAREER networking site LinkedIn's record float this week may have had analysts using it as a litmus test of the value of social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
But for its Australian head of communications Tara Commerford the comparison is not one the company is keen to make.

The corporate message is that social networks are for play but at LinkedIn the networking is for serious business - one that is now valued at about $US10 billion ($9.4 billion).

Ms Commerford is the publicist on the ground for the US web juggernaut, spruiking to Australian and New Zealand companies, marketers, recruiters and ad agencies on how best to use the service, which allows users to meet and share their resumes with prospective employers online.

She says success today means marketing yourself effectively and surrounding yourself with people from a range of industries for support, right down to the individual.

"I've never secured a role in a conventional way," she says. "Never via a job board and always through networking, a recommendation or word of mouth.

"We call it 'Brand You' – every individual is now a brand so make sure you're sending out the right messages. Learn as much as you can, as fast as you can and keep up to date with changes in digital trends."

Ms Commerford said it was a practice LinkedIn made sure to use internally to provide opportunities for staff to excel at the company and for later if they move on.

But for all the faith in digital networks and communications there’s one technology that seems to trump them all – the jet plane - for getting to meetings at head office in Silicon Valley three to four times a year.

"It's invaluable to have that face to face time with my boss (VP Corporate Communications) and other members of the public relations and marketing teams," Ms Commerford says.

"We're all about connecting talent with opportunity at massive scale so the breadth of the opportunity is huge and the challenge is exciting.

LinkedIn last year opened an office in Australia, where it has more than one million users.

"We have a truly international office – I was the second Australian to join. Our MD is South African, we have an expat from our Mountain View headquarters heading Hiring Solutions, and a Brit heading our Marketing Solutions team," Ms Commerford says.

She said some days started at 4.30am with a conference call to the global team. She tries to answer emails early enough to catch the US operatives in the office and later on – whether through Skype or email – it's time to liaise with offices in the UK and India.

"I can be doing media outreach one day and organising event sponsorship the next," she says. "Every day is different, it's extremely rewarding."

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