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To be searchable, or not to be?

Posted By Natalie Singer, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013

That is the question all candidates should be asking themselves as the online job search environment changes. In today’s online environment there are many ways to promote yourself if you’re seeking better career prospects, and for potential employers to seek you out. Some are obvious, such as job boards or perhaps your LinkedIn profile, but some, like your FaceBook page or where your weekend sports results were posted, are not.

Today, many candidates are unaware of the changing landscape in South Africa and the fact that many of the job boards, that traditionally only serviced recruitment agencies, are now making their service offering accessible to corporate employers, and this could have dire consequences for your confidentiality and job security.

But, before you panic, let’s assess the risks. There are most certainly pros and cons to being found easily in cyberspace, and it depends entirely on your current circumstances.

Flying below the radar

If you want to be in direct control of who has access to your CV, then you’d be better off not registering on any portals and simply watching the career sections of newspapers or websites for positions that catch your eye. You can then make a conscious decision to forward your CV for consideration. However, this can be extremely time-consuming and you may miss out on the perfect job simply because you didn’t see the advert on that particular day.

Pro:        You are the only person who has access to your CV until you choose to apply directly

Con:       You could miss out on the ideal job

Targeted selection

As a skilled candidate, you may wish to rather begin a relationship with a specialist recruiter who works within your niche sector. By registering with a particular agency, or perhaps two, you could benefit from their expertise and network of clients with the right kind of opportunities. You would take the time to register with the agency once and then liaise with them from time-to-time as your needs changed, or they had suitable opportunities to discuss with you. This form of relationship allows you to control where, and to whom, your CV is sent because a professional recruiter, especially one that is registered with APSO and adheres to the APSO Code of Ethical & Professional Practice, should always contact you to discuss any potential career move and get your express permission to send the CV to that specific client, for that specific role at that specific time.

Pro:       Your specialist consultant will be able to identify those opportunities that meet your specific skill set and requirements and market you effectively to the potential employer, including assisting you with the interview and offer stage.

Con:      You need to ensure that you’ve registered with the right recruiter who will be proactive in assisting you with your next career move otherwise you run the risk of missing out on other suitable opportunities. 

Leveraging your network

If you’re a social media fundi you may wish to leverage your own network when seeking better prospects. Keeping your job search solely to cyberspace associated with social networks can be risky as your network may not be big enough to uncover the right opportunity for you. Remember to manage your profiles carefully because social media is equally used to reference potential employees as it is to recruit them.

Pro:        You can control all engagements and work with people in your network.

Con:       Your profile/s may in fact cause potential employers to disregard you entirely.

Signing up to a job portal

For a long time, job portals in South Africa were only accessible to recruitment agencies and this meant that candidates could register and make themselves searchable confident that their details were not at risk of being found by their current employer or someone in their immediate network. However, several of the job boards, including some of the leading brands, have recently changed their service offering and now make it possible for their corporate clients to utilise the search functionality. Some portals provide candidates with the option to "opt in” or "opt out” from this extra layer of accessibility but it’s not always clearly laid out. As a result, candidates are recommended to investigate their rights and understand what they are signing up to, before simply assuming that their information will be handled only by recruitment agencies.

The job portals can be an excellent way to manage your career search as they provide resume creation services, direct online applications, application tracking and other tools. Many recruitment agencies, and increasingly corporate employers, are also making use of these portals so the number of job vacancies being posted is increasing. However, in light of the changes, we strongly recommend that candidates do their research and choose their job portal wisely, especially if they’re currently employed and don’t want to risk being discovered by their own boss.

Pro:        One stop shop with many vacancies and other useful career-seeking tools

Con:       You could end up with your details openly available and this may risk your current job.

All or nothing

If you’re currently unemployed or work as a freelancer or contractor, it may be in your interest to be as accessible as possible to anyone who is seeking your skill set – recruiters and employers alike. It makes sense in this case to register your CV on as many job portals as possible, including those that allow employers direct search access to the CV database. You should also invest in creating a detailed LinkedIn profile that clearly outlines your skill set and experience as this social media site is being used more and more often for recruitment purposes. Remember to always consider your online profile and consider limiting access to your FaceBook profile to friends and family – after all, seeing the "good time” you had on Tuesday night, is unlikely to be seen as an advantage by a potential employer.

Pro:       All potential opportunities are available to you.

Con:      You lose control of your personal information and there is always the potential for it to be used unethically or illegally. 

Whatever method you choose to use when seeking a step up in your career, remember to carefully weigh up your options. Remember too that your circumstances will change throughout your career, and what was suitable today may not be right for tomorrow. Maintain your online profiles, including registrations with recruitment agencies and job portals, to ensure that they’re up-to-date and have privacy settings that are appropriate for your current situation.

Tags:  candidate rights  CV  Facebook  job portal  job search  LinkedIn  networking  recruiter  reputation  social media  vacancies 

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