Constructing Your Online Profile
One of the interesting things that I got to do this week was take a trip to LinkedIn’s London Office for a spot of training on the Recruiter licence. I found it to be an interesting and engaging few hours and would recommend it to anyone that has the opportunity to do it. Part of the session was focused on how profiles are perceived online and the actions you can take to be in control of that perception. As a company, whether you like it or not, you are visible.
The Housing Association sector has been waking up to the possibilities on LinkedIn and other work-related social media over the last few years. It’s safe to say though that generally the quality and detail of the data available is inconsistent, and it’s hard for job seekers to get a true picture of what it’s like to work for a Housing Association without knowing someone with experience or trying it firsthand.
A lot of my role is spent speaking to people who have not worked in the sector, explaining the attractiveness and sometimes even the frustrations of working here. I believe in giving an honest view, something that makes for less trouble in the long run if, like me, you have a long term interest in your client’s success. What’s weird is my honest view is extremely positive. When you look at the sector there is often the chance for flexible working, great modern offices in good locations, solid benefits packages, good career progression and the opportunity to make a genuine difference to the society around you. I say my view is weird because I often think the housing sector hasn’t realised how good it is.
When I started working in the sector many housing associations still operated as the smaller offshoots of the council housing departments, responsible for providing the majority of social housing. That picture is different now. Mergers, cultural transformations, changes in funding streams and shifts in government policy have had a revolutionary effect. This is now a sector that has an increasingly commercial edge, adopting technology and new ways of working to find efficiency and output levels that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
As with many things there is often a time lag between a change in reality and a change in image, and this feels like the case with the housing sector. When you look at LinkedIn, a few Housing Associations have started to create a presence, Thames Valley Housing being one, while many others are a shell with little information, often out of date. Glassdoor is a similar story, where high ratings exist for some, but very few organisations have more than five reviews. It’s an unfair comparison but Google has reached 4,800. Closer to home Marks and Spencer has 595, which is just half the number of employees at many large Housing Associations. The result is no casual browser, looking at the two main sources of company information, gets to see much about some seriously interesting companies and careers. Delve a little deeper, onto the company website, and you will often find a lot more information, including case studies and project information that would interest most job seekers. But leading these people to that website doesn’t happen automatically.
The good news is that there is little bad information to clear up. Housing Associations have a fairly blank canvas on which to paint their image, sharing some of the many interesting roles, stories and career paths that come with working in one of the most important sectors in the UK. It will be interesting to see which ones grasp control of their increasingly important online brands and realise their cross sector appeal as a place of work.
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