Three ways to use social media when looking for a job
Social media can be a real help when embarking on your job hunt or career planning. Having a social media presence can support your networking activities and can also help you to identify job opportunities. Remember, though, that while social media networks can help you find a job, they won’t do it on their own. You need to be strategic and proactive in how you use them.
1. Manage your online profile
Networking for career progression is a ‘slow burn’ so the real value of social networking is not about ‘getting a job’ – at least not straight away. It's about creating your public, and professional, image – what some career experts call your ‘personal brand’.
Your ‘digital footprint’ is likely to be spread across several different places on the web (try Googling yourself and see what you find). You need to ensure that your social presence matches the professional image you want employers to see. Be clear about who you are, what you can offer and what you want, then make sure that message gets across in the different social media that you use.
In social media, the boundaries between personal and professional can be blurred, so you need to decide how much you will reveal. If necessary, have separate accounts for professional and personal use. And don’t forget it works the other way, so don’t let your digital footprint work against you. It’s not just about the ‘off-duty’ photos on Facebook: there are numerous stories of people who were a bit too candid on Twitter about job interviews.
As a way of actually getting a job, LinkedIn is probably more useful for experienced hires than for graduates. However, it’s a great way to get an online CV that showcases your experience and skills.
Complete your profile as fully as possible, then put the link on your email footer, on Facebook, on your Twitter bio... even on your ‘real’ CV. Update your profile regularly with examples of activities that could enhance your employability. Look at people in jobs you'd like to do, for ideas on how best to present yourself.
Facebook has the most potential to be tricky but it should not be a problem if you check your privacy settings regularly. If you’re using Facebook to interact with potential employers, ensure they only see things that fit your professional image. It’s fine to mention your achievements on Facebook, but don’t overdo it.
Make your Twitter bio as specific as possible – this will help people decide whether to follow you. Include a website address such as your blog or LinkedIn profile. Add a professional-looking photograph, preferably the same as you use for LinkedIn. State that you are looking for a job.
Blogs are a great way to showcase your expertise, particularly if you're looking for work in the media or IT. Post regularly; manage comments and respond appropriately. Spellcheck before you post.
2. Find opportunities
Follow organisations and individuals in the industry you want to work in, to keep up with the latest trends.
LinkedIn is a great tool for researching employers. Following an employer on LinkedIn will give you useful updates on recruitment activity within the company.
Some would say that Facebook is probably best kept mainly for personal use. However, graduate recruiters are increasingly using Facebook to publicise their graduate programmes, so look for the ones you are interested in.
A Twitter search can help you identify new opportunities. You can also look for people working in careers (or companies) that you are interested in and follow them. This may give you an insight into the company culture, as well as potential job leads. Tip: look first on LinkedIn for employees of companies you are interested in, then see which of them are also on Twitter.
The great thing about social media is that they let you communicate with people you might not meet in real life. Create your own networks by making contact with people who work at companies you’re interested in.
Building networks is a long-term process but it is worth investing the time. Interact with people: learn from them, and show what you can contribute. Join LinkedIn groups or specialist forums and share knowledge. Have conversations with like-minded people and build virtual relationships – in fact, this is often easier online than in person. Make sure people know you are looking for work, but don’t push it. Develop relationships before you ask for help.
Twitter is great for networking as, unlike Facebook, you are more likely to come into contact with people outside your immediate circle.
Social networking do’s and don’ts
- use a variety of social media.
- use your real name – you want people to find you.
- check your privacy settings.
- be interesting and helpful: share information, insights and resources.
- update regularly.
- network – it's social media, so be social!
- be generous: share information, thanks and praise.
- spam people.
- only talk about your job hunt; make sure you are interesting.
- expect an immediate job offer.
- forget that potential recruiters can and do Google you too!
- just be online – remember to meet people in the real world as well.