Job hunting in the digital age is so much easier than when I entered the workforce, and had to wait for the Sunday paper to view the classifieds (great, my age was just revealed). Now, we are luckily able to look for work and respond to job listings any time we like. Of course, today the best tool for job hunting is still networking, but most of our networking now happens online.
However, navigating social media for job hunting can be tricky. Here are 7 helpful tips on using your social media presence the right way while job hunting:
1. Take A Good Look At Your Profiles
It’s time to review your online profiles. Are they up to date? Have you bothered to fill in the “about” section on your online profiles? Have you added your professional expertise to your bios on various social networks? Sure, it might seem a bit strange to add your profession to the Instagram account you dedicate to showing only pictures of your kids or pets, but if you’re job hunting, you never know who might check out your profile. Use every opportunity you can to highlight what you do — but as usual, avoid slipping into the kind of aggressive self-promotion that will turn prospective employers off.
2. Clean Up What You’re Putting Online
Do you love getting into a passionate discussion on Twitter about politics? How about complaining about your boss or coworkers online? Or maybe posting frequent photos of yourself with a drink in your hand? I’ll put this bluntly: stop doing that, and consider deleting status updates from the recent past where you indulged in this behavior. You will be judged on what you share online — just ask me, I know.
3. Become A LinkedIn Power User
There is no greater social media tool for job hunting than LinkedIn – and I’m not talking about the job listings. Recruiters and HR professionals start with your LinkedIn profile, often before looking at your resume. If you’re job hunting, you need to dive deep into your profile and make sure you outline the skills you have, and highlight the skills that will help you get the job you want. You need your profile to be more than a simple listing of your current and past positions. You also want your bio to be engaging enough that prospective employers get a sense of who you are, as well as what you can do (and your bio is not the place to be cute and describe yourself as a MILF. Yes, really, people have posted MILF in their profile). You also need to be sure to fill out a full description on each past position, and not just what your title was. In addition, check out some of the great resources on LinkedIn, such as Groups (a great way to connect with like-minded folks in your industry). Lastly, utilize the status update feature on LinkedIn — but be smart about it. Share links to interesting topics that are relevant to your profession, but don’t use it as just another place to blast links to your blog. For more expert LinkedIn tips, read this.
4. Seek Out and Follow Companies Where You’d Like to Work
This seems obvious, but if you have a particular company in mind, there are certain actions you need to take to get noticed further. “Like” their Facebook page (trust me, they will check). Follow them on Twitter. Find Twitter accounts for the CEO and the head of the department in which you’d like to work, and follow them. Seek out articles written by employees of the company, and read and comment. You can use tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to keep up on feeds from those companies, so you can engage in conversation with them. Of course, do this all within reason — the last thing you want to do is appear to be a crazy corporate stalker — but staying on top of the company’s social media outreach will not only give you great info that will help, if you’re lucky enough to get an interview, it’ll also give you the advantage of seeing job listings long before they hit the job boards.
5. Let People Know You’re Looking Carefully
This one is delicate, but important. If you’re unemployed, you can of course tell everyone you know on various social networks that you’re job hunting. But if you already have a job and don’t want to let your employers know you’re looking, it can be difficult to be public about job hunting. (In addition, you need to be very careful when job hunting not to violate your company’s social media policy.) However, you can make good use of the many private messaging features on the various networks to let colleagues know you’re looking.
6. Participate in Twitter Chats and Other Online Conversations
Every industry has experts, and many of those experts offer regular chats on Twitter. If you didn’t know — Twitter chats are typically an hour or two long, and use a common hashtag to create a conversation about a particular subject. Often they will include experts in the field, and will offer up a series of questions to drive conversation. These conversations are open to everyone, so you can participate and engage with folks that are ideal for networking (and of course, follow the folks that interest you the most). In addition, some companies offer public Google Hangout discussions that you can watch or even join (and a few offer Google hangouts specifically for prospective applicants). Think of these digital conversations as today’s networking cocktail party or professional meeting.
7. Become an Online Resource
If you are job seeking, establishing yourself as an expert in your profession is a smart choice. Do you own a website with your name? This is the time to get one, even if it’s as simple as a landing page with your photo — although also having a blog where you share your thoughts on industry trends is a smart idea. If you also take the time to seek out people in your field that have questions and try to answer them (this is where LinkedIn groups excel), you can make great connections and make it clear you know what you are doing.
Good luck, and good job hunting!