Social media is great for posting selfies and connecting with people you barely knew back in high school. OK, there are plenty more useful functions, and most of them have become part of our everyday lives.
The advantages of social media aren’t limited to our personal lives: sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have become essential tools for professional purposes as well. Just ask any job recruiter.
With so many companies and recruiters searching for candidates online, it makes sense you hunt for jobs on the same platforms they use. But you need to have a game plan in place. Social media can help you land an interview or even a job, but it can also spoil your chances of getting hired.
There’s a lot to make sense of when it comes to searching for jobs through social media. This is why your attention should fall on these four areas:
1) Perfecting your profile
2) Effective networking
3) Refined search
4) Building authority
Here are some strategies within each area using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the most commonly used platforms for hiring purposes.
Perfecting Your Profile
Whether you are searching for a job on social media or using more traditional channels, your online profiles are of critical importance to getting hired.
This is because reviewing social media accounts has become a common step in the applicant screening process for employers. In fact, recruiters expect links to social media accounts on candidates’ resumes.
Social accounts can leave a lasting impression with recruiters, and thus are a key part of your personal and professional brand.
Keep in mind that someone examining your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages does so without any explanation for what they find. How elements are interpreted can make or break your chances of getting hired, so precaution is in order.
The easiest way to ensure your image is protected is to separate your online activities into personal and professional accounts, specifically on Facebook and Twitter.
It may seem like a burden to have to create and manage two sets of profiles, but take the time to develop your professional profiles with content relevant to employers.
This includes listing professional interests, work experience, and education. Offer a short description of yourself and career ambitions. You will also want to provide a professional photo, links to your resume, CV, portfolio and/or any pieces of work you wish to showcase.
Once this cornerstone content is in place, you can be confident that whoever you engage online will see your professional side. Just remember there’s a good chance employers will likely also seek out your personal profiles at some point.
If you aren’t comfortable with a potential employer seeing the same content that you share with close friends, adjust your privacy settings to limit public visibility.
Once your polished professional profiles are in order, it’s time to harness the true power of online social networking. Much like the offline world, connecting with the right people online opens many doors for job seekers.
The biggest advantage of networking online is accessibility. You can contact millions of people who can provide you with a lead.
Of course, the challenge then becomes narrowing your efforts. Here are just a few steps you can take:
- Review your own networks: It can sometimes be easy to overlook people we already know. Go through your current contacts on LinkedIn and Facebook to see who is working where or in what capacity. If you find people working for a company or in an area that aligns with your career goals, initiate a conversation with them. Even if you barely know the person, that fact that you are already connected gives you grounds for contact.
- Follow relevant organizations and individuals: Be sure to “follow” or “like” the pages of companies or individuals that interest you. Once you do so, you are fed content updates from these pages, which can even include new job postings. On LinkedIn, you can also see who works at the companies or organizations you follow, helping you identify potential points of contact for informal interviews or job information.
- Join groups: Facebook and LinkedIn are full of groups that are relevant to your job search in different ways. First, there are industry groups, where people interested or involved in the same field of work share content, organize events and engage in discussions. The groups vary considerably in size and focus, which means you can join larger groups with a robust discussion involving people from around the world. Or you can take part in more localized groups devoted to niche areas.
The groups you take part in don’t necessarily have to be industry orientated for you to discover job opportunities.
Student clubs, alumni associations or community organizations can connect you with people who share a common background.
Through conversations with group members, you may learn of individuals working in companies or fields of interest to you.
If you’re lucky, you will be fed news on job postings by the companies you follow or like. However, this limits the number and frequency of opportunities you hear about, so expect to do a little digging.
The obvious starting point for searching for a job through social media is LinkedIn, which many companies use for finding and hiring candidates. LinkedIn lets you narrow your search results using a variety of filters, including industry, experience level and location, allowing you to find positions suited to your career goals.
However, it’s important to realize that not all companies post their jobs to LinkedIn and that there are other ways of discovering positions through social media.
Hashtags are great way to uncover these hidden gems. Many companies will post job information on Facebook or Twitter using hashtags like #careers, #jobopening, #nowhiring, as well as other hashtags that are more specific to the position. For example, if you are looking for a job in marketing in Chicago, it’s worth trying to search #marketingjob #chicago to see if anything interesting pops up.