Robots are reading your resume, so here are 5 tips to meet their approval

  • Companies are increasingly using AI to take the guesswork out of job searches and find the candidates whose resumes match what they are looking for.
  • The first step to a successful job hunt is knowing how the algorithms work. Then, tailor your resume to use AI to your advantage.

Thinking Robot

Blutgruppe | Corbis | Getty Images

Without even thinking about it, we interact with artificial intelligence every day.

Siri finds nearby pizza places or dry cleaners. Alexa turns on lights and gives the day’s forecast.

So it may come as no surprise that AI is now a deep but unseen part of your job hunting.

Just as spellcheck alerts you to a typo, other algorithms pore over your electronically submitted resume for misspellings, grammar and information about your work history.

With thousands of previous versions of a job that can be scanned, the algorithm uses the available data on resumes to find the best candidates for a talent recruiter, according to Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter, an online job marketplace.

“Machine learning can cherry-pick and rapidly learn from the employer how to do a lookalike search,” Siegel said. “That turns out to be by far the best method you can use to match.”

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On the other side of the job hunt, AI can match a person to a pool of applicants who have experience or skills in common with the job seeker, and show the jobs they’ve applied to.

“AI is the new version of keyword algorithms,” which have been around since the 1990s, said Robert Meier, a job transition expert and CEO of JobMarketExperts, which deals with a range of employment issues. “Typically, the algorithm looks for continuity of work history, job title progression and education,” he said. Specific companies may have different metrics they look for, such as software experience or credentials.

What has changed is the number of applicants. Digital applications are easy and free, Meier says, and any job opening now has so many more candidates for a company to screen.

But most are eliminated almost immediately, and only the top 2 percent of candidates make it to the interview, Meier said.

The algorithms are the table stakes to get you in the door, Siegel said. Give yourself every advantage of getting yourself into the best-match list.

Cover letters still matter

The algorithms are the table stakes to get you in the door, Siegel said. Give yourself every advantage of getting yourself on the best-match list.

More resumes submitted on apps and tablets mean fewer cover letters.

“But it’s still an opportunity to stand out and give yourself an advantage,” Siegel said.

He recommends every cover letter include what he calls an essential sentence.

“Put things in the simplest, most straightforward language possible.”-Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter

Do some research on the company you’re applying to and make sure your letter says, “I am so excited to apply for this job, because …” Fill in that blank, Siegel advised, with a phrase such as “I love your product” or “My skills are a perfect match to take your product to the next level.”

Convey your availability and enthusiasm to project the most attractive version of yourself, Siegel said, and use this as a best practice to approach an opportunity that really interests you.

Given all these behind-the-scenes algorithms, job hunters need to know how their resume looks to computer “eyes” rather than human ones. Here are five things to do on resumes you submit electronically.

1. Be straightforward

“Put things in the simplest, most straightforward language possible,” Siegel said.

Clearly list your skills and the years of experience you have with each one.

Instead of “professional sound engineer with varied experience in wide variety of software,” check the job description for specifics. Better to say you’re a sound engineer with four years’ experience using Avid Pro Tools. “The algorithms are really good at deducing these are the key skills for a job,” Siegel said.

2. Spelling counts

It’s critical to remember that algorithms on job sites scan for a range of signals.

“You might be cavalier about spelling and grammar,” Siegel said. “That’s an easy signal.”

For most companies, that means your resume is automatically discarded.

Here's what the average American woman makes

Here’s what the average American woman makes  

3. Have an up-to-date format

Algorithms try to turn the information on your resume into usable data, said Siegel, so make sure you use a traditional, text-based format.

Don’t use Photoshop on your resume: The algorithm can’t derive data from a picture. “Use a modern text editor,” Siegel said. “WordPerfect will make for a challenging document.”

4. The magic of ‘results’

A resume filled with results — not duties and responsibilities — attracts employers like moths to a flame, JobMarketExperts’ Meier said.

Phrase your accomplishments as revenue, income or money saved. Perhaps you made some aspect of a company function more efficient or found a way to cut costs.

A resume that includes specific numbers, percentages and quantities will get a closer look.

5. Have a mobile-ready resume

Most job-seeking activity happens on a cellphone or tablet, but those are not particularly text-friendly.

“Create your resume and cover letter in the right format on a desktop,” Siegel said. Use a cloud-based service such as Google Drive so you can apply on any site using a mobile device.

It’s Time for Your Job Interview. You’ll Be Talking to Yourself

 

In an ultratight labor market, more employers roll out automated, one-sided phone interviews; ‘I blanked out’

It’s Time for Your Job Interview. You’ll Be Talking to Yourself
ILLUSTRATION: ADAM NIKLEWICZ

The questions sound familiar: “Describe a time when you went above and beyond;” “Tell me about a time when you had to deliver bad news to a customer.”

But in this telephone job interview, there is a twist: No human is on the other end of the line.

As companies compete for workers in the tightest labor market in decades, more employers are trying to streamline the hiring process to nab promising candidates before they can get away. For some, that has meant rethinking the tried-and-true phone interview, rolling out one-sided, automated exchanges in which applicants give recorded responses to a series of questions.

It is much like leaving a voice mail—only one with a job on the line.

Major companies such as laboratory-test provider Quest DiagnosticsInc., hospital operator HCA Healthcare Inc. and insurer Allstate Insurance Co. use such interviews for some hiring, as do retailers, restaurant chains and law firms. In May, job site Indeed introduced a set of text- and audio-based skills tests for employers to assess job candidates at no extra cost, including an option for a one-way phone interview, meaning that even the smallest U.S. businesses can now use them in the hiring process.

Jeremy Maffei took his first-ever automated interview in October after applying for a role as a digital marketing specialist at a small marketing agency in Florida. The interview lasted less than 10 minutes, but Mr. Maffei said it threw him off. “I blanked out,” the 42-year-old recalled. He was asked to describe his biggest success and failure, yet with no one on the line, he couldn’t tell whether his responses resonated. “It’s highly impersonal,” he said.

INTERVIEW TIPS

Here’s how to ace automated phone interviews

  • Come with examples: Many questions are open-ended and aimed at gauging how an applicant would respond in a given situation, so think up anecdotes in advance. For example, how might you respond to an unhappy customer or other challenging situation?
  • Act naturally: It may be off-putting not to have someone responding to you in the moment, but remember that a human will eventually listen to these answers. If you have a joke or anecdote that may fit, tell it. The more you can treat this like a traditional live interview, the better.
  • Speak clearly, and cut the background noise: It is important for candidates to have an upbeat speaking tone, and to take these interviews in a quiet place, so reduce the background noise.
  • Research the company and job: As with any interview, reread the job description beforehand. Even in an automated exchange, recruiters can tell if someone seems unfamiliar with the job or its requirements. And sound excited about the opportunity.

Source: HarQen LLC

Some employers say such interviews are more efficient and candidate-friendly. Applicants can take the interviews at any time of day, even after work, and the answers can later be reviewed by a hiring manager. The goal, those companies say, is speed.

With the unemployment rate at 3.7% and job openings outnumbering unemployed Americans by more than one million, companies want to lock in hires as quickly as they can, recruiters say.

“There’s a little bit of this, ’Ready, aim, fire: We’ve just got to get bodies in the door,’” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., which helps job seekers.

The rise in phone interviewing is, in many ways, counterintuitive. More advanced hiring techniques exist, such as automated video or text interviews. Some companies, though, have shifted back to voice screenings, finding them more effective, particularly for hourly roles.

The Wisconsin job-recruiting firm Cielo, which hires 150,000 workers annually on behalf of clients, has found applicants far more likely to complete an audio interview than a video one, said Adam Godson, the company’s senior vice president of global technology solutions.

Over the phone, applicants needn’t worry about their appearance or their location, nor do they have to have access to a smartphone or a computer with a camera, Mr. Godson said.

Some job seekers, though, say they’re still acclimating to them. Bob Lichty, a 49-year-old in South Bend, Ind., has taken two automated phone interviews for separate sales director roles at arts organizations in recent months. One lasted 45 minutes. “Phone interviews are hard enough,” Mr. Lichty said. “When you throw this automated thing out there, it’s like, ’Wow, I have no idea how this is going at all. I don’t know if I’m killing it with my dad jokes, or if should I just leave them out.’ ”

Artificial Intelligence: The Robots Are Now Hiring - Moving Upstream

Artificial Intelligence: The Robots Are Now Hiring – Moving Upstream
Some Fortune 500 companies are using tools that deploy artificial intelligence to weed out job applicants. But is this practice fair? In this episode of Moving Upstream, WSJ’s Jason Bellini investigates.

Quest, a Cielo client, uses automated phone interviews to hire phlebotomists, specimen processors and other employees. Lara Gartenberg, Quest’s senior director of talent acquisition, said an applicant can take an interview at night, and the person’s answers are reviewed by a Cielo representative in the Philippines or Singapore. A U.S. recruiter will find notes the next morning on whether the applicant is a fit and will schedule another interview, if the applicant makes the cut, she said.

HarQen LLC, a 25-person Milwaukee company that makes software behind those automated interviews, has more than 150 clients, from law offices to hospitals and staffing firms, says Suzanne Kinkel, HarQen’s president. Allstate and HCA use automated voice interview software made by interviewing-technology firm Montage, said Montage Chief Executive Kurt Heikkinen. Allstate said it has used the technology for several years, while HCA said it uses it on a “limited basis.”

Trash-hauler Waste Management Inc. began using on-demand voice interviews a few months ago for most front-line roles, including drivers and technicians. The company has seen a 5- to 7-day improvement in the time it takes candidates to complete a phone interview, which “contributes to a faster hiring process,” said Melkeya McDuffie, vice president of talent.

Darlene Racinelli, a Temecula, Calif., financial controller with 30 years of experience, recently had her second automated phone interview. She had applied for a financial controller role at a Texas manufacturer and found automated interviews frustrating because she couldn’t ask questions to better understand the company.

When the system asked her to describe her most-difficult challenge—a stock job-interview question—she decided she had enough. “At that point,” she said, “I hit 9 and just ended it.”

Write to Chip Cutter at chip.cutter@wsj.com

Appeared in the November 29, 2018, print edition as ‘A Job Interview, With Nobody.’

APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS: A SOLUTION TO THE SKILLS PROBLEM?

BY JEANETTE MAISTER

According to SHRM, employers are at an all-time high for difficulty finding skilled and available workers. Many job seekers, college graduates included, are leaving school without marketable skills or any work experience at all.

THE PROPOSED SOLUTION? APPRENTICESHIPS.

“Apprenticeships hold great promise in helping American workers acquire the skills they need to get good jobs while ensuring companies can attract the talent required to succeed in this fast-moving global economy.” 

– Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta

In 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provided federal funding for new types of apprenticeships and job training. It brought local employers, community colleges and job training programs together to identify the skills needed for nearby jobs. Most recently, this summer, the US government signed an executive order to substantially increase the number of U.S. apprenticeships from the current 500,000 (minuscule for the size of the economy) by doubling the amount the government spends on apprenticeship programs.

Today, there are over 533,000 apprenticeships available nationwide in more than 1,000 occupations across multiple industries. Plus, the average starting salary of an apprentice is $60,000, and apprentices earn $300,000 more over the course of their career!

Apprenticeships could bring the US in line with the low unemployment levels and strong manufacturing sectors in countries like Germany and Switzerland. These countries are paying high wages and are able to achieve their economic strength by prioritizing apprenticeships and other education models that integrate classroom learning with on-the-job training.

In an apprenticeship, participants are earning and learning both on and off the job. This differs from many other employment-related programs and purely classroom-based education. This typically three- or four-year endeavor allows the apprentice to acquire new skills under the watchful eyes of a trained mentor.

“Apprenticeship is the other college. It’s real-world application of the things you’re learning… I guess it’s more of in a board game where you skip ahead 4 spaces and advance to payday.”

  Jessie Cunningham, Former Apprentice

One or two days each week are dedicated to classwork at a local community college or technical school, but no college debt is accrued. Better still, apprentices earn while they learn, and most (90%) are gainfully employed by the conclusion of their apprenticeship, according to the Department of Labor.

“One of the reasons why I didn’t go into college right away was because I knew that dealing with debt at such a young age especially can be very very stressful.”

  Nafis Bey, Former Apprentice

How many full-time college students can say the same?

HOW APPRENTICESHIPS WORK

Most apprenticeships are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and sponsored by employers, trade organizations or labor unions. You’ve most likely heard of apprenticeships in more common fields like plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other roles within the construction industry, but did you know apprenticeships are available in jobs like computer programming, insurance claim adjusters and even culinary arts?

Typically apprentices are hired as contractors, combining classroom instruction with on-the-job training. The programs range in length from 1 to 6 years depending on the field, and the prerequisites are a High School Diploma or equivalent. This makes it easy for those entering the workforce to acquire skills in a specific industry so they can begin earning a living at a younger age, in addition to coming out of the program with no college debt.

SHOULD YOU IMPLEMENT AN APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM?

Apprenticeships are more popular in the UK than the US, so one of the first barriers to consider is that there is not as much awareness around apprenticeships and their benefits in the US. Employers who are looking into Apprenticeship programs should know that the reduced attrition, financial tax credits and improvement to the skills gap in your talent pool are some of the greatest benefits of Apprenticeships. The return on your investment is best explained by Chief of Technology Officer, Chris Alfano, whose company has implemented Apprenticeships,

“We find that it’s a lower risk and higher loyalty way to bring employees into our company. Traditionally you’re going to spend money on marketing, you’re going to offer referral fees for people recommending employees, you’re going to expereince high turnover, you’re going to have training… And these are huge costs that often result in employees burning out and leaving your company after a few months. With apprenticeships we’re able to build working relationships with our employees before they come on board and build long term loyalty that pays off in the long run.”

HOW TO START AN APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM

Before establishing an apprenticeship program, you must identify the roles within your organization that will most likely benefit. The Department of Labor suggests asking of your organization:

  • Jobs for which it is difficult to find workers with the right skills?
  • Positions with high turnover?
  • Occupations where a highly skilled workforce is retiring soon?
  • Challenges helping workers keep pace with continuing industry advances?
  • Positions requiring skills that can be learned on the job?
  • Difficulty in attracting new and more diverse talent pools?

Once you’ve determined the roles, you’ll want to collaborate with strategic partners. Employers can turn to a number of partners, such as:

  • State Apprenticeship Agencies
  • Public Workforce Systems
  • Economic Development Committees
  • Labor Organizations
  • Local Education (K-12)
  • Community Organizations
  • Foundations
  • Community Colleges

Then look for a technology partner who can serve as a strategic advisor in the management of your program and provide needed key features like:

  • Soft and simple approach to engage
  • Simple and personalized application process
  • Integration with apprentice-specific job boards
  • Surveys – Capture routine feedback and potential improvements

About Jeanette Maister:

Global talent acquisition technology leader with extensive experience in global talent acquisition, applicant tracking systems & recruiting technology, recruiting metrics and process. Deep insight into all aspects of campus recruiting strategy. Recognized for driving growth and helping clients transform their recruiting efforts.

  Back to Small Business blogsSocial Hire – the Social Media Agency for recruiters and small businesses. With outstanding Social Media Agency reviews on Google and exceptional client retention rates, the team at Social Hire really do know what works (and just as importantly, what doesn’t work). Why not engage a Social Media Agency that not only gets results, but that does so for a third of the cost of employing an in-house Social Media Manager? Simply click “Book a Call” to speak to one of our friendly team.

 

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“Social Proof” — Required for Successful Job Search

By Susan P. Joyce

Social Proof -- Required for Successful Job SearchRemember the old Las Vegas marketing line, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”?

Now, it has morphed into “What happens in Vegas, stays in Google (and Bing, et al.).” 

Leading a “perfect” life – very low-profile, never breaking any laws, never participating in any form of social media, never doing anything that might draw negative attention, does not ensure a clean personal reputation in 2018 or beyond, unfortunately.

Nor, does such a low profile, if achieved, impress recruiters and hiring managers with your knowledge of how social media and the Internet work.

Today, a minimal online professional profile can be as hazardous to your job search and your career as a profile which is full of bad photos and nasty comments.

Instead:

  • Information about someone else with the same name may be found (and what is found may ruin opportunities for you).
  • Aggregated “public” information about you from official records is on the first page of search results, and most people stop looking with that first page.The information includes your age and birthdate, home address and phone number, value of your home (if owned), speeding tickets, property taxes, and much more. With your created and managed social proof (see below), that aggregated information is not viewed.

What Is Social Proof?

Social proof is very important for a successful job search, today.

Social proof is your public Internet activities – your public profiles and contributions – reviewed by recruiters, potential employers, and others. Without knowing you, those activities are proof of who you really are.

Creating social proof doesn’t require spending 10 hours a day dumping content and comments on every social network available. Spend time creating focused, consistent content on LinkedIn and other social networks appropriate for you and your career.

You Are Being Watched

According to an excellent study funded by Microsoft back in 2009, eighty percent (80%!) of employers and recruiters conducted an Internet search on the names of applicants. Searching is much more widely used now!

Nearly 100% of employers search the Internet using the applicant’s name – a quick and easy “background check” to eliminate the obvious “bad fits.” If they find negative content or nothing positive and relevant about/by you, your application is ignored.

You must manage your public actions so that what is found shows you in a positive light. This need is not going to disappear. It is only going to become stronger in the future.

The assumptions employers make:

  • Your visibility confirms resume facts and demonstrates your skills and personality.
    The assumption is that your public content is more factual than your resumes or applications because it is visible to the people who actually know your facts, making misrepresentations very awkward.
  • Lack of visibility is negative.
    If positive professional visibility is not available associated with your name, employers assume that you are out-of-date or maintaining a very low profile because you are hiding something negative and significant.
  • Bad visibility ends opportunities.
    If search engines show unprofessional visibility (pictures of you, or someone with your name, drinking excessively or doing drugs, etc.), employers will not want to employ you.

Your Internet activities can reveal a great deal about you, and demonstrate the level of your skills, capabilities, experience, and knowledge.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

To know what employers and recruiters find when they search for your name in Google, monitor what search engines are associating with your name. Note that this doesn’t need to be associated with you! Mistaken online identity is more of an issue than many people believe.

Anything a search engine associates with your name, whether it is you personally or someone else who shares the same name, can be a problem for you because an employer won’t know whether or not the person involved is you. You can lose out on an opportunity because someone else has “muddied” your name.

Read Defensive Googling for details on how to monitor your name, best practiced at least on a monthly basis.

Your Online “Tracks” Should Support Your Resume’s “Facts”

Employers are accustomed to a degree of “exaggeration” in many resumes and job applications, and, not surprisingly, they don’t like it.

Did you really attend that school, earn that degree, work for that employer, and hold that job title? Are you really the skilled communicator you claim to be? Do you demonstrate the expertise your resume says you have?

Today, thanks to social media and search engines, it is much easier for employers to uncover exaggerations. It is also easier to shine in comparison with other job seekers.

Build Your Social Proof

It is important to be purposeful in creating your online reputation. And to be active, particularly when you are job hunting.

This will actually accomplish two goals – managing your reputation, of course, and also demonstrating that you understand how to operate in the current business environment which definitely includes an online element. It will also help you distance yourself from everyone else who shares the same name.

Considering their impact in Google search results, any of these basic elements could establish your online presence and help you manage your online reputation. They would also help you recover your reputation if necessary, depending on how many you use.

  • LinkedIn 
    Your first line of defense is your LinkedIn Profile. A LinkedIn Profile provides “proof” accepted by most employers. While resumes may contain those hated exaggerations, your LinkedIn Profile, visible to your friends and professional colleagues, is expected to be an honest representation of your career facts. Having an entry for yourself will help distance you from any “doppelgänger” who may be negatively impacting your job search. Compare your resume with your Profile — they should agree, containing the same employment dates, same job titles, same employer names, education, etc.
  • Twitter
    You can build credibility, authority, and gain good Google search results positioning with a solid Twitter account. Keep it focused on finding and sharing good information on your topic, and you can “meet” some very nice people on Twitter.
  • Facebook
    Facebook is the largest social network, reportedly with over 1 BILLION members. Do NOT over-share personal information on Facebook. Assume that everything you post on the site will be seen by a recruiter or potential employer at some point in time! If you have been using Facebook for a while, go through and clean up your posts.
  • SlideShare.net 
    “Professional content sharing platform” SlideShare was one of the original LinkedIn Applications, and it still connects very well into a LinkedIn Profile. Purchased by LinkedIn.com in 2012, SlideShare provides you with the opportunity to build visibility for your professional knowledge and expertise. Just be careful not to reveal anything that is confidential to a former – or current – employer.
  • Quora
    Quora is a question and answer website. If you are an expert in a topic, raise your visibility by providing thoughtful, well-written, and complete answers to relevant questions. Don’t respond too casually or sloppily. Bad answers can damage your reputation very visibly rather than enhancing it. Quora is a good place to learn things, too, so you can remain up-to-date in your field.
  • YouTube
    Owned by Google, YouTube is the world’s 2nd most popular search engine (right after you-know-who). Create how-to videos in your area of expertise. If you have created videos, even Camtasia videos of your PowerPoint Presentations, you can publish them on your own YouTube Channel.
  • Vimeo
    More visibility for your videos. Like YouTube, Vimeo is free for you to post your videos, and they also have an upgrade available.
  • Guest writing
    If you like to write and are an expert in a topic but don’t want to commit to a weekly blog post, consider contributing articles to well-known sites like Medium.com. You may also be able to contribute to BusinessInsiderForbesHuffingtonPost.comMashablePatch, and many others. If there is a site you particularly like and visit often, check to see if they accept articles. Most often, these will be unpaid opportunities. Do be aware that the site’s reputation will color your own, so choose carefully. Understand that you won’t control how long your article remains visible or the amount of visibility it receives.
  • Your own blog
    There are many blog platforms around where you can get started blogging – Blogger.com, SquareSpace, Tumblr, Weebly, Wix, WordPress.com, etc. Make your knowledge and opinions about your topic visible – very carefully. Most blogs die or are abandoned eventually, but if you have the writing skill and the determination to write a blog, they can be powerful for increasing your personal visibility and “brand.”
  • Write a book
    A long time ago, a speaker encouraged people to write non-fiction books in their areas of expertise by simply saying, “Author. Authority!” True. Of course, writing a book is not easy or more of us would do it. Publish a “real” book or a Kindle ebook sold through Amazon, and you qualify to have an Amazon Author Page.

Separate Your Public and Private Profiles

Separate your public “professional” or “business” identity from your private, informal, “fun” or “angry” identities. Don’t let those crazy photos you posted in college or your political rants on your local newspaper’s website scare a potential employer away.

If you absolutely must rant on a topic or post questionable photos or comments, use a different identity from the identity you use for work and job search.

Bottom Line

Social proof is not optional, but it is also not hard to develop, thanks to LinkedIn and Google. Just remember that potential employers may see everything you post publicly with your professional name, and act accordingly.

More About Social Proof

Strategies to Build Your Social Proof:

Social Proof for Reputation Management:

More Social Media and Job Search Guides:

Explore free courses to help at every step of your career.

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12 Ways You Can Absolutely Make Money Online

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12 Ways You Can Absolutely Make Money Online

For many people, making money online would be an absolute dream come true. If they could find a way to make money with a website or some other online venture, they could quit their job to focus on entrepreneurship, spend more time with their family, and finally take back control of their time and their lives.

The crazy thing is, earning money online isn’t a pipe dream. I have been doing it for nearly a decade now with my website Good Financial Cents. I also know thousands of other people who are earning money online their own way with websites, courses, or unique marketing strategies.

Now, here’s the good news. The majority of online revenue strategies aren’t that complicated. Like any business venture, your online income takes time to grow. You need to be willing to devote the time and energy required to get your idea off the ground, and you need grit to stick with it even if your journey is slow when you first start out.

If you’re angling to earn money online but aren’t sure where to start, here are several of the best and most realistic strategies to consider:

#1: Google Adsense

If you’ve visited any website, you’ve seen Google ads. These ads are everywhere, and for good reason. Not only are they easy to set up on any basic website, but they can be lucrative once your website starts bringing in a steady amount of traffic.

One of the cool things about Google AdSense is that it’s so easy to get set up. If you have a blog or website, you can sign up for a free Google AdSense Account. From there, Google will give you a unique code that you will paste onto your website. Google takes it from there, tracking your page views, traffic, and earnings on your behalf. There is no upkeep or maintenance to get this thing going, which makes it a no-brainer if you have a website already.

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How much will you make? I think my best month with Google AdSense was almost $5,000 over the last ten years. That amazing month blew my mind since it was actually near the beginning of my blogging journey. When you go from making zero to $5,000 in a month, that will rock your world. For me, it also got me even more excited because I knew there were other ways to monetize.

#2: Affiliate Marketing

Whether you have a website or are still dreaming up ideas for a blog, you can also look into affiliate marketing. With affiliate marketing, you partner with brands and businesses within the content of your website. If you mention a product or service, you link to that produce or service using a unique affiliate code you received when you signed up for that particular affiliate program. From there, you’ll make money any time someone buys a product or service through your link.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to partner with affiliates that are related to your blog concept. Since I’m a financial advisor, I have focused a lot of my affiliate energy on financial products like savings accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts.

In addition to signing up for individual affiliate programs, you can also sign up for an affiliate ad network that offers a ton of different affiliates in one place. That way, you can see what works and what doesn’t work over time.

If you’re looking for inspiration, my friend Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of the website Making Sense of Sense has become the expert on all things affiliate marketing. Michelle earns more than $100,000 per month from her blog and the bulk of her income comes from affiliate sales. Michelle has had so much success with affiliate marketing that she even has her own course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

While Michelle works with a ton of affiliates in the financial services industry, one of her biggest affiliates is a blog hosting company called Bluehost. This just goes to show that you can make money with nearly any affiliate company or product if you know your audience and build up enough traffic to create sales.

#3: Consulting

Another way to make money online is via consulting. If you’re an expert in any field, you could potentially find people willing to pay you to counsel them on their personal or business goals. You might think you’re not important enough to consult for big companies, but you could be surprised at the types of expertise people will pay for.

My colleague Robert Farrington of The College Investor is a good example of someone who consulted online on the side in an unlikely industry. Robert told me that, after he had been blogging for a few years, a couple of brands reached out to him to ask him for help with social media and online marketing.

Robert said he did an average of 4-6 of these gigs per year for a while depending on his schedule and the work involved. The best part is, he charged a flat rate that usually worked out to around $100 per hour. And remember, this was pay he was earning to advise people on the best ways to use social media tools like Facebook and Pinterest to grow their brands.

If you want to start consulting but aren’t sure what steps to take next, you can also set up a free account through Clarity.fm. This website lets anyone who wants to offer consulting set up a free profile. Once your profile is set up, people will find you and book a session you’ll get paid for.

#4: Online Courses

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If you have any skill you can teach others, it’s also possible to set up an online course you can market online. You can find online courses that teach anything from cooking to marketing or even freelance writing. Heck, I even offer my own course for financial advisors who want to take their businesses online— The Online Advisor Growth Formula.

Last year, I profiled my friend Joseph Michael of Easy Course Creation. Michael offers several different courses, including courses on a writing software called “Scrivener.” Over the years, Michael has earned six figures or more annually selling courses that help people achieve the kind of success he has earned.

Most people set up their online course through a platform like Teachable.com. With Teachable, you can upload your course materials and use the platform to manage customers and accept payments.

#5: Podcasting

Another way to make money online is by hosting an online podcast. I have the Good Financial Cents podcast to go along with my blog, and I use that platform to find new sponsors and advertisers all the time.

I still remember getting my first sponsor on the podcast and finding out they were willing to pay $8,000 for me to include a short clip at the beginning of each podcast for 90 days. That was insanely exciting to me at the time since I wasn’t sure I would be able to monetize my podcast that much at first.

However, there are tons of people making a lot more than me on their podcasts. Take the Entrepreneur On Fire Podcast hosted by John Lee Dumas. According to the show’s most recent income report, this podcast brought in a net income of over $400,000 in March 2018. Now, that’s crazy.

The key to getting ahead with podcasting is finding your niche, growing an audience, and then finding ways to monetize and connect with sponsors. This isn’t the easiest way to make money online since there are a lot of logistics that go into writing, recording, and editing a podcast, but it is still worth considering.

#6: Book Sales

While the publishing industry used to be heavy in print, you can complete the entire process of writing, publishing, and marketing a book online these days. Websites like Create Space will let you upload and take your book to print without getting a formal publisher involved, and you can even get your book on Amazon.com so people can buy it there.

A blogger I know named Joseph Hogue has a successful blog (My Work from Home Money) and a thriving book publishing business. Hogue has written several books he has published online to create an ongoing source of passive income. He says he averages about 685 books sold per month to bring in an average of $1,857 in revenue. Not bad, huh?

If you think you could write a book people would want to buy, this is a smart strategy to consider since the start-up costs can be minimal and you probably already have a computer and word processing software anyway.

#7: Lead Sales

Another way to make money online is by collecting leads. The main steps you need to complete to make lead sales work include setting up a website, getting traffic to that website, and making sure you’re collecting leads that someone will actually pay for.

Here’s a good example of how lead sales can work in real life: My second website, Life Insurance by Jeff, brings in a ton of traffic from people who are searching the web to find answers to life insurance questions. While I used to have the website set up so I could sell these people life insurance myself, it was a lot of work to process all the different requests and clients. As a result, I started selling the leads I gathered instead.

Basically, lead buyers are willing to pay for the personal information I gather from people who visit my website. This is a win-win for everyone since I get paid for the leads and my website visitors are connected with someone who can help them.

Keep in mind though, you can sell leads in many different industries —not just life insurance. Really, you just need to figure out a niche, build a website and traffic, and see how much you can get for the leads you collect.

#8: Freelance Writing

If you have writing skills and creative talent, it’s also possible to get paid to create online content. I don’t do this as much as I used to, but I am very aware of how viable this income stream is.

One blogger I know, Holly Johnson, actually makes over $200,000 per year creating content for other websites. And actually, that’s on top of the six figures she earns with her blog, Club Thrifty.

Holly told me she started writing content in 2011. At the time, she still worked a full-time job but created content online part-time to supplement her income. Over time, she was able to double and triple her rates until she could quit her full-time job to write. These days, she makes bank as a freelance writer and teaches others to do the same via her online course, Earn More Writing.

According to Johnson, the key to making it as a freelance writer is figuring out a niche, networking with people who might hire you, and delivering high quality content 100 percent of the time. While there are a ton of writing job boards to help you get started, she says it’s fairly easy to find starter writing jobs on websites like Upwork.com.

#9: Sponsored Posts

If you have a website or a large social media following, you can also make money by pursuing sponsored posts and ads. But, how does this work? Basically, companies are willing to pay bloggers and social media influencers to promote their products and services. If you have a platform, be it a blog or a huge Instagram following, you can cash in.

The first time I got a sponsored post for Good Financial Cents, I was totally blown away. I think I got paid only $100, but that was a lot of money to me at the time. Later on, however, I realized companies that wanted a sponsored post really just wanted a link from my website to their own site. For that reason, I started increasing my rates.

These days, I charge around $4,500 for a sponsored post. Plus, I clearly mark all sponsored content as an #ad to stay in compliance with Google’s terms and conditions. I also only promote companies I use or believe in.

But, I also know bloggers that get $20,000 for a sponsored post. That’s pretty crazy, but it just goes to show what is possible.

Keep in mind though, you don’t need a website to do sponsored content since you can also get paid if you have a lot of social media followers. My wife has a pretty big Instagram following, and she gets all kinds of sponsorships. Not only does she get paid in cash, but we get a lot of free stuff, too. We’ve received free rugs, free lights, and free carpet cleaners. She only promotes things she loves though, so this strategy works really well for her.

#10: Webinars

Need more ideas on how to make money online? Another strategy is using webinars to market your product, service, or course. I’ve done webinars to promote my financial planning practice and to drum up interest in my online course for financial advisors. With a webinar, you’re basically offering a lot of tips and advice for free — usually in a live format. At the end though, you pitch your paid product or service with the goal of securing a few deals.

Professional speaker Grant Baldwin uses webinars to market his courses on public speaking, including Get Booked and Paid to Speak. While Baldwin offers plenty of free tips during his webinar, he offers his course at the end for people who want to pay to learn more. And, a lot of times, his sales pitch works.

No matter what you’re selling, it’s not that hard to set up a webinar and attract people to sign up with a lead magnet or Facebook ads. Heck, you can probably find a free webinar on how to create your first webinar if you look hard enough.

#11: YouTube

YouTube is another platform that has made it possible for people to earn money online. There are a ton of YouTube channels out there on any topic if you can think of, and most of the people with a big following are earning some money in exchange for their videos and time.

Marine officer turned men’s fashion expert, Antonio Centeno has built a million dollar business from his YouTube channel, Real Men Real Style.

Last year, Forbes profiled some of the biggest players in the YouTube scene. According to the study, the top ten biggest grossing YouTube stars brought in $127 million from June 2016 to June 2017. The most popular, a gamer named DanTDM, earned $16.5 million of that on his own.

Will you earn that much? Probably not. However, you can start making money via YouTube using the platform’s own ad network or by getting sponsored posts. If you like doing videos, starting a YouTube channel can a fun way to earn some cash on the side.

#12: Build an Online Community

Last but not least, you can also earn money online by building an online community, although the monetization strategies you can pursue will vary a lot depending on your goals. You can build a community with a blog, for example. You can also build an online forum and charge people for membership. You could even build up a Facebook group and use your influence there to sell and promote products.

My good friends Shane and Jocelyn Sams have become experts in building online communities.  They have one right now for their website – Flipped Lifestyle. This community shows people how to create an online business and connects entrepreneurs who are pursuing similar dreams.

Prior to that group, they had an online community for teachers looking for lesson plans. That probably sounds pretty random, but it’s crazy the type of communities you can build and rally people around. If it’s something that you’re passionate about yourself and you want to connect with others that have that same passion, then an online community is something you should definitely consider.

The Bottom Line

There are a ridiculous number of ways to make money online and the ones I’ve covered here are just the tip of the iceberg. If you have time, a passion for almost anything, and at least some creative skill, you may be able to build an online income stream — or several — if you give it enough time.

But, don’t just take my word for it. If you look online, you’ll find thousands of success stories you can use for inspiration.

One day you could even create a success story of your own. But you’ll never know unless you try.

 

I am a certified financial planner, author, blogger, and Iraqi combat veteran. I’m best known for my blogs GoodFinancialCents.com and LifeInsurancebyJeff.com and my book, Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in Your Future. I escaped a path of finan…

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Jeff Rose, CFP® is determined to make sure you don’t have buyer’s remorse when buying an annuity.