Social Media: Basics of Using Social Media Effectively for Your Job Search

CN_Marc_v1_eIn How You Can Use Social Media to Help With Your Job Search, I talked a bit about things you might find useful to know in general when it comes to using social media when you’re looking for a job.

Now I’d like to focus in on the basics of effectively using each of the more popular social media tools (including LinkedIn) to help you find jobs – with my personal take on just how much added value each one may deliver.

Using LinkedIn for your job search

LinkedIn.com is a terrific resource for anyone who has a job or wants a job. If you have a job, you can find out what’s going on in your industry and even connect with other people with similar interests. Good for helping grow your current job, while laying the groundwork for possible job change in the future. And the nice thing is that, if you’re lucky enough to connect with the right people, you wind up being a resource for each other.

LinkedIn also can be an invaluable research and networking asset for your job search. All the profiles in the LinkedIn database are available to you to learn more about a company or industry you might want to get into, and maybe find connections for informational interviews, names of people to write to within a company, and even jobs.

And through the keywords you use within your profile, employers and, more likely, recruiters can find you when looking to fill a position. In fact, choosing the words you use to describe yourself is probably the single most important part of creating a good LinkedIn profile … well, maybe tied in importance with a good photo of yourself. And of course, make sure your profile is well-written, easy to follow, and clearly presents you as the person who fits the type of job you’re looking for.

But here’s something you may not read in most articles about using LinkedIn for your job search … you don’t have to go crazy adding lots of endorsements and recommendations. I know a young woman who recently got a great manager job at one of the top entertainment companies – and she had ZERO recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn.

Her profile was very simply written, just her job titles and education. Almost nothing else. What she did have was an impressive history of progressive experience in her field and great personal references. And you can’t build that on any social media website.

Facebook for job search

As far as I’m concerned, apart from letting it be known that you’re looking and occasional updates that contain searchable keywords / key phrases about the job or field, you probably should use LinkedIn for job search and keep Facebook as a personal site. While studies tell us a good percentage of those employers who recruit via social media do use Facebook, almost all who use social media go to LinkedIn, so you may as well make that your face to the employment world.

But remember that anything you post on Facebook can be found; so even if you think of it as personal, be careful about what messages you put out there to the world. It may seem funny or cool now, but anything you publish can follow you for the rest of your career, when it may not seem as funny if it keeps you from a job you really wanted.

Twitter for job search?

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t some research value to following the tweets of people who work at companies or in industries you care about. There is. And you may eventually connect to people with whom you build a relationship that helps with job search now or in the future.

Plus companies may tweet openings that you’re interested in, and so OCCASIONALLY you can get found. And of course there are companies who are mega tech-savvy who wouldn’t want anyone who doesn’t get Twitter. Especially Twitter. 🙂 So yes … it may be worth paying some attention to Twitter. Just think about whether it makes sense for you, ok?

But, and I know I am going against the social media grain here, for most people you can have a perfectly successful job search without ever logging into Twitter. And if you spend hours a day tweeting for jobs, this is probably not time well spent. Plus it is sooo addictive. Nuff said.

Craigslist for job search

Are there real jobs on Craigslist? Yes. So it may pay to regularly visit Craigslist to look for local jobs, or jobs in areas of the country you’re interested in. Especially for non-corporate types of jobs. Also, certain towns and cities seem to use Craigslist more than others for listing real jobs; you can probably get a good sense of this by checking your local listings.

BUT, there are also bogus jobs (some areas of the country more than others, I’ve heard). And so you have to be really careful to check out the employer ahead of time. If it sounds too good, it just might be. Then again, I’ve known people to find some interesting situations. So I’d add it to my list of social media tools, under the “ya never know” column, with a big note to yourself about making sure it’s for real.

GlassDoor.com

Glassdoor.com is a site where you can check out what people say about employers. Supposedly, the reviews are from current or former employees, but of course no one can stop an employer or anyone else from posting a fake review. I think it’s worth checking this site, as well as any other company review sites (even Yelp for certain types of employers), including Indeed.com’s “best places to work”.

But, also be aware that people who are angry for whatever reason can make a place sound bad even if you might actually enjoy working there. And an employer can ask people to post good reviews to make it sound good. So by all means visit the site, but try to find other sources of information too, like people who actually work there (using good old LinkedIn) or relevant articles on the web. Your alumni organization, if you have one, might also be a great resource to help you research.

Search engines

Not exactly social media, but still a great place to research your industry, specific companies, or find people you can address resumes directly to.  Also, it can help you find a basic email address structure if you search for @companyname.com (using their web address as the suffix.)

Or, if you have someone specific in mind, try searching for the person’s name and the word “contact”. And, as mentioned before, the place to research yourself and check out your online reputation.

Company websites

Again, not exactly social media, but invaluable for so many reasons. Not only can you read about what picture they want to paint of themselves to the outside world, but you can nose around to find names, titles, basic organizational structure, finances, history, mission, and even plans they may have for the future that you might connect to.

If they don’t list this on a web page, snoop around until you find their annual reports and Form 10-K filings. This kind of information can help you choose companies to apply to, shape your cover letter and interview questions / answers, and even help you look sharper as you show you understand who they are and what they do when you meet in person.

And let’s not forget that many employers list actual jobs on their websites that you may not have seen anywhere else. For my own job searches, I usually have a list of at least 10 company sites that I check regularly. Sometimes the listings may even clue you in to new directions.

Your comments on blogs and websites

Just to reemphasize the importance of your published words, whatever you say online – even if it feels good at the moment – can come back to bite you. So even if it feels great to vent about some former employer (or soon to be former), please don’t. No one wants to hire someone who badmouths their former employer. They understandably assume someday they will see their name there too.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you do need to vent online or simply leave comments, even on blogs like this, if there is anything negative or something that could make you look less competent or employable, PLEASE don’t use your real full name. And don’t use the real names of the people you’re talking about.

This can come back to bite you – even for people who post on Glassdoor or similar sites. You think a new employer will never generalize from the past to the present, but they do. When we hire, we are on extra alert for potential troublemakers and high-maintenance folks. So hopefully forewarned is forearmed.

Job support groups

You can get a lot of good advice and support from online groups. Just know you can also get bad advice and you can get caught in a social group that is taking more of your time than is good for your job search. So just make sure you think about how much time you’re spending there versus what else you could be doing.

And also, if it turns out to be mostly a gripe session group, go find another place to get your support. I’ve seen too many people that get caught up in the “us and them” mentality when participating in gripe groups, with all employers becoming “them” – even though eventually you’d ideally want to make it into an “us” with some employer.

Your own blog

I know I’ve asked you to be careful about getting sucked into the social media world, and blogging can be the suckiest. Ahem. But, if you need to establish a positive online presence that helps enhance your credentials, give presence to your skills, and even helps boost your employability (depending on the type of job you’re looking for), a blog may be a great way to do that. Plus, if you’re feeling voiceless after the 100th turn down (it happens to the best of us), a blog may be a wonderful way to use social media to your advantage. And feel more grounded in who you really are.

A blog can also be something you use to explore a passion that will lead to future career change. Of course in this case, and if it doesn’t in any way mesh with the job you’re looking for, I’d keep it to myself. Meaning probably don’t use your full name on your blog, or it could be the first thing a potential employer sees about you when they search online. And they’ll wonder if you really are committed to what they want you to do.

Just remember to balance your blogging, as well as all other social media time, with other job search efforts that get you out into the real in-person world. And that includes volunteering or taking on temporary projects or anything that can build your resume and help you explain what you’ve been up to when you finally interview.

Whatever exciting things you discover or create using social media, you still have to present a strong, competent person that an employer wants to make part of his or her team. And explaining your time between jobs with “I spent a lot of time tweeting” just won’t do you any good!

Please feel free to share your own social media experiences and advice. And if you actually got a job from Twitter, let us know!

More articles you might enjoy:

♦   How You Can Use Social Media to Help With Your Job Search

♦   Social Media: Think of Using LinkedIn as a Quickie Targeted Resume

♦   Job Search: How to Deal With Online Job Search Article Overload!

 

♦   Pros and Cons of Online Job Search Support Groups

♦   How To Use LinkedIn to Market Your Transferable Skills

♦   Zen and the Art of Schmoozing for Networking and Career Growth

 

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