Social media is a new class of Internet sites, services, and applications that facilitate conversations between their users. The most popular and famous social network is Facebook, but there are hundreds of other social media websites that attract users based on their social affinity. Social media has transformed many ways that people interact including one of the most important interactions – connecting employers with current and potential employees.
Using Social Media in Your Job Search
Social media can be an invaluable asset in all steps of the job search process including networking, finding prospective employers, creating a strong resume, preparing for interviews, and cultivating strong references.
Social media can be your most valuable resource for networking.
In years passed, the only way to meet and make an impression on new people was through face-to-face forums such as networking receptions and conferences. Today, with the help of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites, it is possible to establish personal and professional relationships without ever meeting face-to-face. As a first step, consider starting a blog or a micro-blog. A well regarded and informative blog can be your most valuable networking asset. It is an ideal demonstration of your knowledge of a particular subject and your ability to communicate in writing, and it will be a catalyst to help you start conversations with your peers and leaders in your industry. A good blog has a purpose; so do not create a blog that is an unstructured journal of your thoughts. Instead, pick a topic for your blog that you are knowledgeable about and that others will find valuable. In order for your blog to be useful and gain popularity, you should plan to post at least once a week. If you do not have the time to make that much of a commitment to your blog, consider creating a micro-blog on a site like Twitter. As with a long-format blog, your Twitter or micro-blog account should have a primary purpose that is valuable to your peers and leaders in your industry.
Use your online network to find prospective employers.
There is an adage that the best jobs are taken before most people even know about them. This is because people turn to their personal network first when trying to fill a key job, and they feel much more confident hiring someone they know or someone that comes recommended from a trusted source. Start your job search by reaching out to your friends on Facebook and connections on LinkedIn. These resources will help you find positions that may not be listed yet or that are being recruited for using a closed process.
Your online presence is a critical component of your resume.
Just as you must research companies online before submitting your application, hiring managers will often research a candidate online before extending an invitation for job interview. As a result, your online presence is a critical aspect of your candidacy and you must manage it with the same attention as your resume. Any information available online can and often will be used by recruiters in evaluating candidates. As part of the process of creating your resume, you should create a profile on LinkedIn that describes your experience accurately, effectively, and in sufficient detail. If you have a website or a blog, make sure your biographical information is up to date. If appropriate you may want to dedicate part of your site to your job search by including an online version of your resume or a portfolio of past projects and accomplishments. Be aware that employers may use any aspect of your online presence to evaluate your candidacy. Make sure that all aspects of your website and social networking profiles portray you in the best light.
Use your social network to prepare for interviews.
Before interviewing at a company, look on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to see if you know anyone that currently or previously worked at the company. You should consider reaching out to direct connections, and also to friends of friends. Most people are willing to discuss their experiences provided that you are respectful of their time and do not pry into subjects that may be governed by confidentiality. Before each of these conversations, prepare a short list of questions to make sure that you can get maximum benefit from the opportunity. In some cases, making a good impression on a current employee can have a positive impact on your candidacy.
Use LinkedIn to cultivate your references.
LinkedIn has an invaluable feature that allows people to post recommendations for you to your LinkedIn profile. Prospective employers may use these recommendations to gain insights into what your peers think of you and how they describe your positive traits. While these recommendations will not take the place of personal references, they do provide an important source of information for hiring managers. LinkedIn recommendations can be a great way for you to start the process of cultivating a strong set of references. Follow these steps to cultivate your references via LinkedIn.
- Begin by setting up your LinkedIn profile.
- Establish your LinkedIn network by reaching out to those you know.
- Select LinkedIn connections who you feel would be willing to create a recommendation for your profile.
- Reach out to the list of LinkedIn connections with something like this: “I am in the process of seeking job opportunities. You are a trusted colleague and I would value your recommendation on LinkedIn.” You may want to include some information to remind that person of projects that you worked on together and project accomplishments that you are particularly proud of.
- Most often, only a subset of persons you approached will create recommendations for you. You will have the opportunity to accept or reject those recommendations.
- Reach out to the people who took the time to create the best recommendations for you and ask them if they would be willing to act as a personal reference.
Making the Most of Social Media
Social media sites can be your biggest asset in finding and attaining your dream job. They provide an unprecedented way to strengthen your personal network and demonstrate the knowledge and skills that prospective employers are looking for. Creating a strong online presence takes time and dedication, but it is well worth the effort. Prospective employers and recruiters are increasingly relying on social media to find and research candidates. In the best case, you will find that the tables are turned – job opportunities will find you.
A Word of Caution
As with any powerful tool, using social media requires some caution. It is said that the Internet is written in ink, not pencil. Anything you do online is recorded, and you may not always have the ability to control the dissemination of that information. Take care to post only that information which you would not mind sharing with current and future employers. It can be impossible to retract an ill-advised comment or inappropriate photo. So if you wouldn’t do it at work, don’t do it on line.