With up to 94 percent of organisations planning to use social media for recruitment, why not incorporate this alongside more traditional methods?
Here are some ways to fine-tune your job search by using social media to provide an edge:
1. Connect with the right crowd
Start by building a network of relevant professionals:
- Use Twitter to connect with people who do jobs that you like, people who work at organisations you’d like to work for and people who post about your field of interest.
- Remember to look at who your role models follow – chances are you should follow the same crowd.
- Research which hashtags fit your profession or the type of organisation you’d like to work with – they’ll help you find appropriate contacts.
- Be mindful of location: the Internet might be borderless but it’s best to develop most of your network near where you live, with a few global leaders thrown in.
- Consider that clicking ‘Follow’ on Twitter is one very easy way to make yourself known; it triggers a nice email or notification to say who their new follower is!
- With LinkedIn, initially, approach only people who you have personally met and worked with.
- Take care with making unsolicited LinkedIn connections. If you don’t know someone, they might want a good reason for why they should connect with you. A connection request to someone who doesn’t know you should be accompanied with a note explaining why you want to connect.
- And don’t forget to like and follow all the organisations that you want to work for on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, otherwise you might miss a ‘we’re hiring’ post!
2. Start conversations
What’s social media really all about? It’s about making friends and discussing common interests – a little like making friends offline!
So, get in there and start conversations as well as join conversations. It can be as simple as asking questions and answering questions.
Conversations can also begin with sharing useful links that your future colleagues might get value out of.
But a word of warning; think it through before using social media to openly ask for work, it can too easily look creepy. Saying that you are looking for work in a LinkedIn status might be fine but the same on Twitter will probably end in a deathly silence. It’s best to take it slow.
If you want to turn your social networking into a real life get-together quick smart, check out a community interest group near you on Meetup.com.
Australian not-for-profit professionals are pretty active on Meetup.com and you will find many like-minded people in areas like fundraising, volunteering, activism, health, environment and community.
If you can’t find an existing group that’s right for you, what about starting your own?!
3. Showcase your work
Use the same strategy that organisations on social media use – they basically produce content in order to attract friends and you can do the same.
Simply posting your intelligent insights as status updates counts as content but you can go further.
Some job seekers start professional blogs to showcase what they know, what they can do or what they have learnt.
It’s also interesting to share updates and photos with your social network about any great projects that you are involved in.
Similarly, if you are part of a community that relates to your profession or demonstrates your character, sharing positive news about your involvement can boost your employability rating.
4. Your 24/7 CV
The traditional notion of a CV as a formal document remains really important, but in reality, your online profiles can be just as important, or even moreso, given that it’s accessible to a much wider audience all the time.
This is why a LinkedIn profile should be maintained just as vigilantly as a CV. You can also make use of its extra features to request recommendations and skills endorsements – although endorsements probably don’t make any difference to a potential employer.
5. Professional development
Even if social networking and broadcasting yourself isn’t your thing, at the very least, social media is an overflowing river of information and advice.
The volume and quality of material available on blogs, LinkedIn and recommended reading on Twitter is massive – and potentially overwhelming.
Once you’re connected to some “thought leaders” in your area of interest or expertise, get ready to read what they post! As an informal way to access professional development (PD), dipping into social media when you have a chance is a great way to stay in touch with the latest trends and developments in your sector or profession.
It’s not PD you can put on your CV, but that knowledge could be invaluable to impress a potential employer in an interview.
6. Clean up your online reputation
Finally, could your social media presence preclude you from getting a job?
The first thing many potential employers do when short-listing candidates is search for your name to see what comes up.
So it’s sensible to check what sort of persona you’re projecting to the public via social media.
Are you sharing too much? Have you expressed intolerant opinions? Are your photos distasteful or embarrassing? Are your privacy settings too lax?
Some “best-practices” to make sure you look your best on social media:
- Make sure your Facebook privacy settings are set to make “private” any content you’d prefer an employer not to see;
- Delete anything from your Twitter timeline that you don’t think shows you in a positive light; and,
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile reflects what’s in your CV exactly – any disparities (dates of employment for instance) can raise unwanted questions from an employer – or at best makes you look sloppy. And if you don’t currently have a job, make sure it doesn’t have an “air of desperation” about it.
Sure, it’s reasonable to expect a potential employer to respect your privacy but do make sure what you have put online for all to see is something you are comfortable with.