If you want to take your job search beyond LinkedIn and Google, there are ten websites and two secret places can that help you up your game and stand out among the competition. These sites are some of the best ways to learn about a person or business. You can use these websites in tandem to verify a person’s identity and discover their industry interests. In turn, these interests could help you establish a connection with someone in your industry or they could help you further evaluate an employer. Imagine going into an interview or a meeting and being able to talk about industry-related topics. Or, using the information to bring up a problem that an employer or person may commonly face and how you resolved a similar problem in the past. Showing up to a meeting, crafting a cover letter, or just making a connection while armed with extra research can demonstrate your commitment, diligence and value to others.
In short, you’re taking a proactive approach to your job search versus a reactive approach. In a proactive job search you pick the companies that interest you, research them and reach out to decision makers to establish a relationship. In a reactive job search you look for job openings, send your cover letter and résumé to hiring managers and hope it stands out enough to elicit a response. Instead of spending your time validating what’s on your résumé, what if you could acquire enough research to get an inside look at a company’s 2015 goals?
I’m talking going beyond press releases to take a deeper look inside of a company. Imagine if you were in a meeting with a company’s CEO and he or she were outlining goals for the year, the challenges the company faces, and the steps that need to be taken to solve those problems. If a company is losing customers, you would know and could create a plan to attract new customers. You would know more about a company’s customers, products and their systems. You could contribute ideas, help develop special products, and land new clients. You could move right into talking about a 90-day plan, and suddenly you’re being sold on the opportunity to work for a company. Can you feel your future paycheck rising? You should! These incredible meetings aren’t limited to interviews. You could take a deeper level of preparation to any meeting. Both parties will get more out of the meeting as you know their needs thanks to your research, and they have a better understanding of the value you can bring them.
You can use these ten websites to dig deeper and learn more about a person or a company. In addition to the websites, there are a few secret areas you can visit to find elusive information. I’m not including LinkedIn on the list. LinkedIn is a powerful resource and a great way to search for and connect with professionals in your industry. If you need help with searching for contacts using the network, JibberJobber has excellent instructional videos. You can use the information from the websites I’m going to outline BEFORE you search for contacts and extend invitations to connect with others on LinkedIn. (I assure you the connections you make will be more meaningful as a result.)
Google isn’t a surprising choice on this list, but it is important. There are surprising ways in which you can use Google when it comes to advanced searches and more. I’ll discuss those search methods in a moment. Google is the first place you’ll start when researching someone or a potential employer. There is a wealth of publicly available information to be found at your fingertips. Search by entering the person’s name and a few keywords related to their job or location, for example “Karen Huller Career Coach”. You may run into the problem of searching for a person with an incredibly common name. If you’re researching a company, it may also be difficult to find thanks to a common name. In this case, Google’s advanced search can help. It allows you to define searches with exact words or phrases, exclude words and narrow your results by language, country, website domain, and more. This is useful if you have a professional’s name and the name of their company. You can also further narrow down results by including geography, such as a town or a state. To keep current tabs on a person, set up Google Alerts to notify you when new search results for a person are added. You can customize Alerts by update frequency and sources (blogs, news, discussion, and books) and have the results delivered to your email address.
You can take your search a step further by accessing a secret location on Google. Do an image search, if you find a matching image of a person, follow the source page. It can reveal such things as what a person does with their friends, awards they have received, events they have attended, activities they engage in, and much more!
Once you have found a person or business on Google, you can use Google+ to further confirm their identity. Use the service to search for people, companies, their profiles, and any posts they have created. The About section allows you to glean information such as a person’s occupation, their place of employment, the places they have previously lived, Google+ communities they are a part of, and links to any other social networks or services. If the Posts section is active on their account, it can be a great insight into what a person may be writing about or sharing. If your subject is an industry leader, he or she will definitely talk about their industry and even how they make contributions to it. An active business will have their latest posts, contact information and links to other social media accounts.
A person’s YouTube profile can be accessed directly through Google+ or on YouTube. If they are an active professional in their industry they might have uploaded a few videos with useful content for their followers. These videos can explain who they are, how their followers can better themselves within their industry, or a video may advertise a service. If a person doesn’t have any content uploaded on YouTube, you may find videos from other people in their playlist section. These videos can allow you learn more about the interests of the person you’re researching. Businesses are a bit trickier. If they haven’t linked their YouTube accounts to Google+, their latest videos (if they have any) won’t appear. You’ll have to search separately for them on YouTube.
Data.com is an online directory of business professionals and their companies fed by data from Salesforce.com. It is mainly used for b2b (business-to-business) transactions, and is maintained by a large subscriber community. It allows you to look up and exchange business information with millions of professionals. It is the same information you would find on their business card. You can search for and verify their newest information such as job titles, current employer and an email address. You can also search for businesses and gather a list of their current employees. Because this is user-updated information, you will want to verify the information by calling a company switchboard and trying to reach someone who can verify it, or even just to try to see if you can reach that person. Also, everyone has a concern about privacy. It is better to address privacy concerns before adding someone’s contact information. We recommend that you DO NOT add anyone’s contact information without their consent. It’s best to make the nominal investment or only add people for whom you can consent to get credits you can use in exchange for others’ information.
Like Data.com, Zoominfo.com is a directory containing millions of professionals. Zoominfo is different from Data.com because it uses publicly available information aggregated from web articles mentioning the person or business and other sources. It is easy to verify a person based on their work history. The database also allows you to search and discover profiles for businesses. These profiles include contact information, a company overview, number of employees, their competitors and revenue. Unlike searching on Google, this information is updated once every 90 days or sooner. You also don’t have to wade through pages to identify your contact or a business. It is all readily available in one easy-to-navigate spot.
Slideshare is a service that allows users to read and share professional presentations online. It boasts over 60 million global users and is the largest community for sharing professional content. Slideshare allows you to search for and follow individuals, regardless of if they’ve uploaded content. Their profiles can include their current location, employer, education, a professional description, their social media accounts, their websites, and other people they follow. Slideshare is a good resource for verifying a person’s identity, but it only works if he or she has taken the time to fill out a profile. Even if a person’s profile doesn’t include a detailed profile, there is another potential way to gather this information. The presentations they share might contain information missing from their profile. You can also find businesses and the slides they’ve shared. These slides can contain high-ranking members of a company, such as the vice president of a division. Furthermore, these slides contain presentations that cover industry trends and their approaches to solving problems.
7. The Business Journals:
When it comes to researching people and employers online, The Business Journals are a veritable gold mine. I sang the praises of the Philadelphia Business Journal in my article “There’s GOLD in These Pages”, and for good reason. It is a fantastic source for leads that correlate to your income potential, it allows you to target organizations through the Book of Lists, read about the growth of local companies and even find people on the move. The local business directory is great for obtaining quick information on local employers. The search feature even allows users to find people and business throughout the journal. Some of The Business Journals’ best features are behind a pay wall, but if you’re serious about locating research and information, a subscription provides access to valuable tools.
Vimeo is a video-sharing service that predates YouTube. The platform has over 14 million members and the bulk of users are creative professionals. In other words, Vimeo is a great way to find career coaches, mentors and subject matter experts in addition to music, animation and film artists. The community is small compared to YouTube, but it is passionate. Vimeo can be used to find a professional and discover their creative works, in order to learn more about them. You can also search for businesses on Vimeo. The results aren’t as comprehensive as YouTube, but some businesses provide fascinating glimpses into their operations. For instance, Amazon Recruiting has a video highlighting their relocation packages for new employees. A similar search of Amazon’s brand on YouTube yields mostly uploads of commercials and ads for consumer products. If you can find a business on Vimeo, the uploaded videos could provide a new perspective on the company.
Pinterest is a media-sharing website with a heavy focus on sharing pictures. But, many users also use it to share content from websites. Like other social outlets, it allows users to follow one another. You can search for a person on the service and view what they have been sharing. This provides a glimpse at the industries they follow and their hobbies. More importantly, Pinterest allows you to get a glimpse of what information is relevant to a person and the subjects they like to see and share. If a person has fully customized their account, check out their boards. Depending how they use their pins and boards, you may learn what their wildest dreams and deepest desires are. A person’s dreams and desires can help you engage a person and gain some insight into their thought processes. You can also search Pinterest to find news and facts about a business, but not very many of them have actual Pinterest accounts. However, if a business does have an account, they are surely using it to promote their employment brand.
I can’t talk about searching for people on social media without mentioning Facebook. It is the largest social media platform in the world and has more than one billion active users each month. It is mainly thought of as a personal social media network, but it also functions as a directory. You can search for people or businesses by name, but like Google, if a person has a common name a search can yield dozens of results. To find the person you’re looking for you’ll generally need to know what city they live in, and/or their place of employment. Try searching for a name on Google. Sometimes their Facebook page will appear in the results. This can greatly aide your search if you’re having a difficult time finding someone. Facebook is a great way to get a general feel for a person and their interests, depending on what they share publicly. You’ll find some accounts are heavily restricted to friends and family, while other accounts are public. Lots of businesses big and small have Facebook pages that provide general information about a company or brand. The information you find on Facebook is fairly generic, but it can be used to be more engaging when you do approach someone.
I’ve gone into depth about the ten websites and a few secret websites you can use to take your job search further. However, you can be proactive about your job search instead of reactive. Our Webinar, Insider Edge to Social Media: 3 Success Secrets to Getting Hired, demonstrates NOT just how you can be found by employers of choice, but HOW you can use social media in many of the same ways to be PROACTIVE about your job search. A proactive job search allows you to land at a company you already know will be a great employer and can offer you the environment and culture you need to thrive, and the opportunity to expand your professional horizons. The searching methods contained in Insider Edge are integral to executing a proactive job search.
That said, even if you are being reactive, because your networking and social media activities have generated great leads, you can use the sites I mentioned to optimize every meeting and interview.