Ep - 13 Interview with the Author of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies

Dec 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM · by David Kushan

In today’s podcast episode we talk with Joshua Waldman. Joshua, author of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies, is recognized as one of the nations top authorities in Social Media Career Advancement. To learn Joshua’s secret strategies for shortening the online job search and getting the right job right away, watch his exclusive video training here to learn How To Use Social Media Find a Job

Listen to our Interview with Joshua here.


For anyone looking for a first job, exploring a career change, or just setting up for future success, social media sites are proven platforms for facilitating connections, demonstrating passions and interests, and ultimately landing the job. Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies enables you to harness the power of the Internet to research and identify job opportunities, and then create a strategy for securing a position.

Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies features in-depth coverage of topics such as: creating effective online profiles and resumes to sell your strengths; maintaining your online reputation (and ensuring that employers who Google you like what they find) and understanding electronic etiquette; using the power of personal branding and building your brand online; avoiding common pitfalls, such as jumping into filling out a social media profile without a strategy; getting to know Twitter, the only real-time job board with literally thousands of jobs posted daily; using social media sites to uncover opportunities in the “hidden job market” ahead of the competition; and much more.

• Shows you how to easily harness social media sites

• Advice on how to brand yourself online

• Covers all of the latest and most popular social media sites: Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more

If you’re a recent graduate, changing careers, or have been away from the job-search scene for a while, turn to the trusted guidance and expert insight of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies.

Interview Transcript: 

David Kushan: Welcome to the interview section of podcast today. I’m very excited to have the guest that we have today. This is very out of the ordinary for us. We are really trying to branch out for our listeners not only from a job seeker perspective but from a hiring managers perspective and be a resource by providing as much information as possible on how to advance a career or build the right team.

Today we get out of the norm a little bit by bringing somebody in from the outside who is really known nationally as a specialist in their space. Our guest today is Joshua Waldman. Joshua is the author of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies. The book has now been out for 3-4 weeks in it’s second addition. Joshua has been recognized as one of the nations top authorities in using social media for career advancement. Josh, thank you for being with us today.

Joshua Waldman: My Pleasure Dave.

David Kushan: So just to get started, before we go into more of your background, give the listeners today more insight in terms of what you’re doing in the market place, how you work with job seekers, what types of services you have to offer and the level of expertise you’re making available in the work place today.

Joshua Waldman: The mission of Career Enlightenment, my company is to help as many people as possible get to work using technology in our day in age that technology happens to be social media just based on its prevalence. I offer ways to do that to different types of folks out there. With Students, I enjoy traveling to college campuses and speaking. I’ve written the for dummies book, as you mentioned and that’s really an encyclopedia of really understanding social media. I just started offering LinkedIn profile writing services and that’s more for mid-level professionals who are a little bit frustrated with the results they are getting on LinkedIn and need a little bit of a boost, as well as for unemployed professionals I run a couple of programs here in Portland and that’s expanding to California that help unemployed professionals go through some training and course work so that they feel confident about their ability to find work online

David Kushan: Ok, Great. Thank you for letting us know so that people can get a good idea of the broad width of knowledge that you have in the area that helps you assist people out in the market place.


So tell me Josh, a little bit about your background. I know we’ve had some conversations. Things seemed to be going well with you and then in 2008-9 they seemed to have changed a little bit.

Tell our listeners a little bit about what happened during that period of time, the challenges you faced and what really changed for you.

Joshua Waldman: Well I think a lot of people were really affected by the downturn in 2008. I certainly was. I remember where I was and what day of the week it was, what time of day it was when I got laid off the first time. I was laid off from Cisco, which isn’t such a terrible thing, because they give you a pretty nice severance and there is a whole network of companies who would love to hire an ex-Cisco employee.

So getting that next job wasn’t so bad and I think I had it pretty easy at that point.

After I started my next job with a Cisco partner in Portland, six months later I was laid off again and they couldn’t even sustain the extra sales person and in my market it seemed like everywhere I was going jobs were just drying out. So it was a hard time. It was the second time I was laid off in early 2009 and for someone with my background, you know, I had an MBA, I had an undergraduate degree from an ivy league school, this wasn’t supposed to happen to me.

I felt like wow, I’m really not in control of what’s going on here.

I was a real wake up call and I think looking back, and looking at this and some other folks who I have worked with, there really is only one inevitable end, to having a job and that is, you’re not going to have it someday. Nothing else is going to happen. You’re not going to own the company.

You’re going to quit, be laid off or fired. There’s no alternative. To start thinking about that next step early before one of those three options happen was something I really didn’t do and I really encourage people who are gainfully employed to think about. This is why I really suggest getting involved with LinkedIn early. Build your career now. Build your network now. Later you’ll have a little bit of a cushion.

David Kushan: Now at that time you begin to job search, I know you were working at a technology company and I know that is something that you have always seemed to have an interest in. were you strongly familiar at that time with the tools that would help you begin to look for your next career move or, was this something you were learning as you began the process?

Joshua Waldman: I’ve always been an early adopter of social. I remember my first year at Cisco I actually started the LinkedIn group called Cisco because I believed in LinkedIn back then. I had traveled the world and met executives from various Asian countries when I was getting my international MBA and I believed in it. I just didn’t know it was the thing that was going to help my career later on. I just enjoyed it really.

David Kushan: Did you start of after the second position went away? Did you decide to do something completely different at that time or were you getting yourself back into the job market per say to look for something new? How did that evolve for you?

Joshua Waldman: I was looking for work you know, it was just like, I went through the unemployment program and they told me you’re not even going to get a job interview these days for another 3-6 months. Set your expectations realistically.

I thought “Oh My God. Seriously? It’s that bad.”

In fact Portland was just below Detroit in the unemployment rate. So I figured I might as well go and have fun while I can. So I just got on LinkedIn and started to use twitter more actively and set appointments for myself to meet people. The people I met with were saying things like “how can I help you?” and I would tell them it’s just a pleasure to talk to you, how can I help you? I don’t want anything from you. 

So I just got out there and started meeting people and building my local network, learning what companies were growing and what companies were failing. To just get a sense of what was happening. Pretty soon I was walking into job interviews and it really didn’t take me very long. It took me a couple of weeks of networking and people were asking me to come into job interviews or saying hey there’s a great position that I thought of you for.

The 3 months predicted by the unemployment office went down to 3 weeks.

I took it for granted. I thought, oh this is just me using social media, what’s the big deal? When I was telling people what I was doing, their jaws dropped and I realized I actually had something here that could probably help a lot of people and not everyone had the same ideas that I had around technology. 

David Kushan: Now their jaws dropped because you talked about doing things that they were just completely unfamiliar with at the time?

Joshua Waldman: Yeah.

David Kushan: I heard, as somebody who is in the career market place, a number of things that really grabbed my attention. 

The first thing I heard was, after that person [unemployment officer] sets your expectations, the thought I had there was, maybe they could help with attitude management, it certainly didn’t seem like they were giving people much hope. but I can certainly understand that they were trying to manage expectations.

Right after that what you mentioned was, you went out to just go to the market and start to meet people. It wasn’t as if you were looking for a position, you were starting to meet people. So in some way, did the fact that they were managing your expectations that there may not be a job for 3-6 months that gave you the feeling that you needed to do something kind of changed your focus a little bit it sounds like?

Joshua Waldman: Yeah it did change my focus and of course I applied for jobs. You have to in order to maintain unemployment benefits, and I did. I walked into job interviews, and you know, frankly I’ll tell you one experience I had. 

I walked into a job interview and I was so unprepared and so uninterested in this company. I just decided to say yes to everything they asked me. They asked if I had ever sold green construction before, and I answered, “Yea, I like florescent light bulbs,” there was some part of me that was just not interested in working. Part of it was because they said wait for three months before expecting anything to happen. But also when you’re laid off it’s traumatic. It hurts; it was very painful experience, existentially, for me. I would walk into a company and I would like the company for example and then the only thing I could think about was, “Wow, cool company.. I wonder what it would feel like to get laid off from here?” 

I just wasn’t ready.

David Kushan: Ok. So you get out there and you take the approach of starting to meet people, and your using social media for that. You also talked about how you would meet people and ask how you could help them. 

What can people who are not as familiar with these tools as you are, what they can start to do and how maybe thy need to look at things a little bit differently because of these tools that are available?

Joshua Waldman: I was at a leadership training a couple of years ago; it was a very small group only seven or eight of us. One of the guys in the room drinks beer, watches football, and owns a restoration company. These are folks who cut down huge trees and fix floods and that kind of stuff. You know, big heavy equipment operators. He sort of had this anti-woohoo raidar going on and I told him what I did.

I said, “Hey, I help people find jobs using social media.” He started laughing.

He said, “Oh really? That has no relevance to me.”

So I asked him to tell me about his most recent hire. He said he was trying to find a front desk person; he had three candidates, and Googled one of them. She looked good on a resume, but when I Googled her it turns out she was an exotic dancer in her previous role. So he disqualified her.

I asked him, “Tell me again how you don’t use social media in your hiring process?”

Everyone does, even if they don’t admit it. Everyone. In fact job rights in 2013 stated that recruiters are now at 94% adoption of social media and all of them plan on spending more time and money using social media to build their teams. It’s ubiquitous to change the name of the game. If you don’t know how to use it strategically you become one of those sorry statistics of people who are winding up in jobs that they don’t really like.

David Kushan: That makes a lot of sense. What would you say from what you see in the market right now or just as you’re looking around at some of the social media tools out there or the networks out there, what are some things that are very easy for people to do that from what you’ve seen they’re just not doing? 

Joshua Waldman: Number one is to think about your message first. We have a shinny objects syndrome problem in our society and it’s not this country it’s really the basis of our whole economy, is circled around this fallacy that technology is going to solve our problems and it’s not it never has. If you read some of the futurists and economic commentators back in the fifties and sixties, they were saying the exact same thing that we are saying now. Were running out of energy, technology is causing more expectations on productivity and our quality of life is going down. All of these things circle around this fallacy that we think technology is going to make our lives easier. So when we hear social media is the way to go to advance your careers. The instinct that has been drilled into us since the day we were born is to go and totally use the technology. Just go on LinkedIn and fill out your profile. Go on Facebook and fill out your profile. Start tweeting. The problem with this approach is that you haven’t thought about the strategy yet. So what can happen is you come across as being very flippant to the perception of the recruiter who is looking for very specific things. They have very specific roles they need to fill. If you’re just on there because it’s going to solve your problems, by just being there, you’re not going to get very far.

That’s a mistake a lot of people make. What I would suggest you do is slow down a little bit. Accept the reality that you have to be on LinkedIn but it’s not in and of itself the solution. The solution is how you engage in the technology. So think about that message first before you start filling out that profile. What was that one thing you want a recruiter or hiring manager to remember about you? Translate THAT to be consistent across all of your messaging and profiles and posts so that you are on brand and on target. 

David Kushan: That’s a great point. I spend a lot of time in talking with people about the things they that they need to do to be viewed as a specialist in the marketplace and when people are out looking of their next full time job or next contract I say to them, it’s not about getting interviews, it’s about getting the ideal position for yourself and would you rather position yourself to get two interviews and have a ninety percent chance of each of the two interviews getting back to you with an offer? Or being somebody that ten companies will interview you for but you have a three percent chance at being offered any of the positions. 

Joshua Waldman: Exactly. Before, maybe five years ago progress on the job search was how many applications you sent out, how many resumes you sent out. I think these days it’s a different conversation. It’s how many new people have you had conversations with? How on target is your message?

David Kushan: If you were to speak with somebody who maybe listening right now, that isn’t very familiar with what’s out there. Could you share with them a brief overview of each and where they fit into an overall strategy?

Joshua Waldman: Studies are coming out reinforcing that it’s the big three that you really have to be paying attention to and it depends on the perspective. If you’re looking from the recruiting perspective, LinkedIn, Facebook and then twitter are the order of priority. If you’re looking from the job seekers perspective, you’re actually probably going to find better luck on Facebook believe it or not for several key reasons.

Number one the sheer size of Facebook. There are so many people using it actively a lot. Now that graph search has been rolled out to everybody, which is where you can use natural language search to go through the entire public record of Facebook’s information on people. So for example if you wanted to find friends of friends who work at Cisco in Hawaii… you could find them with no problem. Then, because they are friends of friends you can ask for that introduction and start having conversations with people. I don’t think we have even begun to brooch the power of facebooks graph search at this point and there’s not a lot of people talking about it. What we know for sure is that companies prefer to have internal referals. Internal referals tend to be more successful candidates. We know internal referals come from employees and then family. Well guess which network has your friends and family? It’s Facebook. 

I think there’s this weird separation that people have intheir head of personal and professional. That actually never existed before these networks came about. Fifty years ago your friends were from work and your family hired you. SO there was never a separation between your personal and professional and just because these networks have created these false diconomies doesn’t mean we have to fall pray to them. If our friends and our family have always refered us to possible opportunities, then why not take advantage of that and use Facebook for professional networking? What’s wrong with that? As a matter of fact many people do, do that. Something on the border of 18 million Americans have gotten their jobs through the use of facebook. It’s no small number. 

The next most important is LinkedIn because this is where recruiters hang out. Something like 50% of LinkedIn’s user base are recruiters. So recruiters use LinkedIn like a big database and the cool thing is that the more recruiters you have in your network, and the better your profile is, the more you’re likely to show up in search results. So there’s sort of a passive approach to LinkedIn. Look great, have a great profile, have a big network that is strategically grown with recruiters in your industry and your chances of getting discovered go up. 

That’s a very passive way to approach your job search. 

You can also approach it much more proactively and use the advanced search features of LinkedIn and find folks who work at companies you do want to work for and then reach out to them for information and interviews.

David Kushan: I just had a thought that popped into my mind. I wanted to say that the comments you made on each of those are excellent and what I took from this is you really talking about a mindset shift that has to occur before the tools can be used, number one and number two, use the tools effectively and that’s the change that’s happening right now. The example that you gave with the person in the beginning, they are already in social media they just don’t realize it. It’s almost as if they are shying away from a label and being apart of that label.

What I tend to find that interesting, being in the business or 20 years, is when I got started the only way you got in touch with somebody was to make a phone call and people were not necessarily overwhelmed by recruiters calling them. Their information wasn’t out there. What I hear a lot of today is these people that are successful and are being identified in the market are feeling a little overwhelmed with how often they’re being reached out to there could be a number of recruiters contacting them. It’s hard for them to determine if they should get back to them or not. Which can be a full time job in itself.

So in the conversations that I have with people is how they can narrow that group down into a manageable handful of people that they can have as a resource or a mutually beneficial relationship with.

Do you have any advice for how you can be proactive in reaching out to the right recruiters and build relationships with them?

I always tell people recruiters have favorites. If we get a position and there’s multiple people a that are qualified for it, were human and were going to reach out to people that we are most comfortable with.

Do you have any insight on how people can manage that?

Joshua Waldman: Well first of all wouldn’t most of us love to have that problem? What could be a better sign of career success? That’s one of those problems you would like to have in life.

I hear people complain, I talked to a guy this summer who had such a specialization and technical ability that he knows, confidently, that he can walk into any job that he wants. He had a sense of confidence but it was also pretty cocky. First of all my sympathies do not go out to people who have too many recruiters reaching out to them. 

David Kushan: (laugh) let me just qualify it a little bit. I think some of the challenges. You could get reached out to by let’s say, ten recruiters, and not all are equal. Which I have a biased opinion of course. Some have gotten into the business 30 days ago and some have been in the business for 5+ years. It’s a type of business that does have a lot of turn over. So I guess I was looking at the question more as how they can go about identifying who is worth staying in touch with. I understand the point of at east the action is coming to them because they’ve done something right. So how do they make sure that they can be in touch with the right people that can really help I guess if that makes sense.

Joshua Waldman: yeah and that comes back into strategy. If you know what companies you want to work for then why would you work with a recruiter if they can just as easily go on LinkedIn and identify an information interview source and start having conversation within five minutes?

The proactive approach to LinkedIn isn’t necessarily engaging with recruiters, it’s engaging with a company.

David Kushan: Just to reiterate I didn’t feel slighted at all by that comment. I think the reality is, and this is where I’ll make a comment about my own industry, is that a firm like ours is used by organizations only when they haven’t been able to identify people who are ideal for their roles.

So this is all about and why I appreciate you being on our podcast, talking to people who have an idea of where they want to be and help them get there. The recruiting firm isn’t supposed to try to put themselves in the middle of something that’s going to happen already. They’re there at the end of a process to bring value where things haven’t been able to come together on their own. 

I just thought I would take the opportunity to make that distinction but you know that’s a good point. I think that’s part of the challenge and part of what I was trying to get out of this is sometimes people are a little too passive and wait for it to come to them but how do they get proactive about it and again that goes back to the big picture right?

Joshua Waldman: Yeah that’s right. The big picture is that first step, what do you want? Who are you? Who are you going to help? 

David Kushan: well of course I think something that changes with social media is it makes it a little easier for people who don’t view themselves as very aggressive per say. I was telling people fifteen years ago, if you know there’s a company you want to work for, pick up the phone and call somebody there. It was almost as if you weren’t allowed to do that like there was some rule written somewhere where you’re not allowed to do that. Today some people just aren’t comfortable picking up the phone and as they viewed it, being so forward. But today with email or websites it’s a little bit easier for a more passive person to at least reach out.

Joshua Waldman: It is easier to reach out and it’s less scary. I just got a book review today from a woman who is an introvert researcher with several books out on quite leadership and I think it’s funny, her review of the book was basically social media helps with introverts who struggle with picking up the phone and talking to new people. An in-mail on LinkedIn allows them to test the waters first and feel better about making that connection.

David Kushan: Well Joshua, you spent a significant amount of time with us today and I appreciate that. Any final comments on the big picture or final thought to leave out listeners with that you think can help them get started?

Joshua Waldman: Well just do something. I think there is this risk of feeling overwhelmed because all the social media experts and technology websites kind of make this into a really big thing and it’s not it’s just a tool like a hammer or a saw. What you’re really doing is just networking. If you’re going to think about it in that terms than you pick the tool that’s appropriate for the kind of networking that you want to do. So, start with what you want to accomplish then pick the tool. Don’t start with the tool. Realize that you need to network because it will help your career and what’s a network I can use or tool I can use to find someone who is working at that company and then pick that one. That’s how I would approach this and I think that will help alleviate any stress of not knowing where to start

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