Using Your Social Media Networks to Find a Job
In the age of all things digital, if you're not taking advantage of social media during your job search, you're doing yourself a grave disservice. According to research, a hugely significant 92 percent of recruiters use social media as part of the hiring process. So, if you're not active in this space, you're likely not being found or looked upon favorably.
In the words of Hannah Morgan, well-known job search and social media strategist, and founder of Career Sherpa, "Social media is a great way to build credibility and expand your network. Plus, when recruiters or hiring managers search for you online, it gives them something positive to see."
To leverage your networks successfully, though, you need to implement a number of best practices. Below you'll find 11 dos and don'ts for how to use your social media presence to track down job opportunities and land employment.
Social Media Dos
Do: Update and polish your profiles
Before you can use your social media platforms to your advantage in a job search, you need to make sure they present you in the best possible light and are tailored to professional eyes.
"I recommend mastering LinkedIn first," says Morgan. "It's the most important platform for the majority of job seekers."
Career consultant Jane Finkle agrees, stressing that LinkedIn is a great opportunity to provide in-depth information about your experience and background. "Make sure you look polished and professional to attract top employers," she says. "Proofread your profile for spelling and grammatical errors, highlight accomplishments, and attach your resume, appropriate videos and publications." You should also ask former colleagues and managers to endorse your skills and write recommendations on your page.
Alongside LinkedIn, you should give your personal social profiles some attention too. Each should tell a positive story about you, so delete questionable content, update your bios on Twitter and Instagram, and flesh out your"work" and "education" sections on Facebook. It's also important that you use a sufficiently professional headshot across all these platforms. As Finkle says, "Your photo is literally the face of your profile," so it needs to communicate that you're a competent, responsible and reliable individual.
Do: Pepper your profiles with job-specific keywords
Many employers use software to scan social media sites for appropriate candidates based on relevant phrases and search terms. To increase your chances of being found, and coming off as a good fit, both Morgan and Finkle recommend that you include industry keywords in your bios and job descriptions.
Morgan also suggests that you use keywords to bolster your own hunt for jobs advertised on social platforms. "Search for hashtags relevant to your job and industry," she says, offering up #businessanalyst #accountant and #finance as examples.
Do: Set up alerts for advertised vacancies
As Finkle points out, "Increasingly large numbers of employers are using social media to post jobs." That means, you can, and should, use your platforms to identify opportunities you might be interested in.
You can actively search for positions in your sector and geographical location by visiting the "Jobs" page on LinkedIn and Facebook, or you can go one step further and set up job alerts for specific search criteria. This way, you'll be notified every time an organization in your city advertises that they're looking for, say, a "Junior Media Analyst" or "Senior Environmental Consultant." On LinkedIn, you can even create job alerts for specific companies that you have your eye on.
Do: Tell your social community that you're job hunting
If you're not currently employed and you're actively looking for a job, use social media to spread the word — someone in your network might know of a position that's right up your alley. "Facebook is great for letting your friends know you are in job search mode and for getting help," says Morgan.
Naturally, it's not a good idea to make this announcement publicly via status updates if you are currently employed, as you don't want to make things awkward at the office. In this case, Finkle recommends you "let your key contacts on social media know you are looking, without highlighting it in your profile summary". You can do this by sending people you trust a private message on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or even Instagram.
LinkedIn has also built in a function that lets you notify recruiters that you're open to new opportunities. You can share your career interests and stipulate whether you're "actively applying" or "casually looking", and the platform's privacy structure will do its best to keep this information away from your current employer (although this is not guaranteed).
Do: Build your network, join groups and connect with key contacts
"Connections are the most powerful force for job searching on social media," asserts Finkle. "The more relevant connections you have, the higher your chances of being linked with hiring managers or senior leaders at organizations that you are interested in."
She and Morgan both recommend following professionals who work in your field, are participating in projects you're interested in, or are currently employed at your dream companies. "They often tweet or post job opportunities and keep you up to date on current happenings at the company," Finkle says of the latter.
Joining industry groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and even Twitter is a great way to organically "meet" and initiate relationships with key contacts in your sector. And it doesn't matter what field you're in — there's bound to be an appropriate group for you.
It's also key that you do more than just connect with others on social media; you should actively engage and interact. Morgan recommends that you follow businesses you're eager to work for on all their social media channels and then "share and comment on their posts to get on their radar." Similarly, Finkle points out that Twitter, being a real-time platform, is a great place to "start a conversation and get noticed by a thought leader or executive." Hashtag-driven Twitter chats, which are essentially online meet-ups for like-minded individuals, are especially beneficial in this regard.
Do: Establish yourself as a subject matter expert
You can also use your social media presence to show potential employers that you are passionate and knowledgeable about your field. It's the quickest way to build credibility and enhance your professional appeal.
Morgan suggests that you "regularly share articles and news related to your industry, post upcoming events and conferences, and post photos from professional meet-ups or volunteer projects you participated in". You can also try blogging about industry topics, says Finkle, and link back to your posts on your social pages to "spark a following and impress potential employers."
If you work in a fairly creative field, like fashion, design or photography, Instagram can also be a great platform to showcase your skills and interests.
Do: Use social media research to bolster your candidacy
When you're compiling application materials or preparing for an interview at a particular company, social media can be a valuable research tool.
"When you follow a company on social media, you get insight into its culture, clients and products or services," says Finkle. "You can take advantage of this information when you write a cover letter to demonstrate how you can add value and fit into their company culture."
She also urges job seekers at the interview stage to check out the social profiles of the staff members with whom they'll be meeting to see if they have anything in common with them. "Maybe you are both alumni of the same university or members of the same professional association, or maybe you at one time worked for the same employer," says Finkle. "A great way to demonstrate initiative and genuine interest is to mention any of these during your interview."
Social Media Don'ts
Don't: Pester hiring managers on their personal profiles
While social platforms tend to be rather public, you still have to respect the privacy of professionals on the other side of your job search. If you're in the running for a particular position, don't bother recruiters and interviewers on their own social profiles with follow-up tweets and messages. You'll likely just annoy them, position yourself as unprofessional and lower your chances of moving forward.
Don't: Forget to adjust your Facebook privacy settings
A big social media mistake to avoid when you're job searching is "not ensuring Facebook privacy settings for employers who could view your profile with photos of you partying or something else offensive," says Finkle.
Ideally, you should delete anything that might not reflect well on you, but regardless, it's still best to restrict the visibility of your more personal information — comments and photos from friends and family, for instance. That said, you don't want security to be so tight that prospective employers can't find any information about you on social media. They should, at least, be able to see your profile photo and details about employment and education.
Don't: Overshare or post anything divisive
Whenever you do anything on social media, always consider how a potential employer would receive it.
"Don't post too frequently or share content that is too personal," advises Morgan. "Ask yourself how you would feel about seeing your post as a headline in a major newspaper. If you wouldn't want to see it as a headline, then you probably shouldn't post it."
Similarly, both Morgan and Finkle agree that it's probably best to avoid posting anything political or religious. You don't know what prospective employers' views and values are, and you don't want to antagonize the people who are making hiring decisions.
Don't: Use social media to complain or criticize
Lastly, it's best to keep all rants and negativity off your social platforms. Don't insult or criticize anyone, and, in the words of Finkle, "Avoid going off on tirades or complaining about people or work issues."
If you want to find a job quickly, you need to portray yourself as the amicable, courteous, level-headed professional that you (hopefully) are in the workplace.