How can social media help you find a job?
Recently a former colleague of mine contacted me. She lost her job a few months ago and her new job search so far has not turned out any solid leads. I asked about her job finding tactics and as it turns out she is limiting herself to browsing job posts online and submitting copies of her resume to job banks such as monster.com.
I, of course, have nothing against browsing job postings or getting your resume indexed in job search engines, but in today’s challenging job market you must be no less than a rock star to get noticed in a sea of other well qualified job seekers. Unless… you do something different, you somehow stand out from the crowd or have a way to expand your professional network to encompass prospective employer.
SOCIAL MEDIA TO THE RESCUE
It depends of course how familiar you are with social media. Do you know what LinkedIn, Twitter or blogs are? Do you have a Facebook account? If the answer is “yes” you are probably already using these channels for your job search. If the answer is “no” let’s do some prep work by reviewing the following channels:
LinkedIn is a professional social network where you set up your profile including your past work and education history and requests others to join your network. This is a must for your job searching activity as it allows you to keep in touch with your present and past colleagues and their networks, join LinkedIn groups of professionals with similar interests and even share your knowledge by contributing to the “Questions” section where members ask and answer questions on various topics including your area of expertise. To get the most out of your job search on LinkedIn, check out Guy Kawasaki’s Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job.
Facebook. Unlike LinkedIn where users are focused on building their professional networks Facebook is more relaxed and less focused. Similarly to LinkedIn, Facebook allows you to build your network by “friending” people and participating in Facebook groups. What works to your advantage is the sheer volume of Facebook users. Take advantage of it by searching for and reaching out to people you know in your industry . Make sure your Facebook profile is professional, but don’t be afraid to show your personality. If you have used Facebook before with friends make sure you set up filters to block your prospective employer from seeing your party pictures and other “damaging” content.
Twitter. Think of Twitter as a public water cooler or a public instant messenger that allows members to converse while others are listening in. On Twitter you post short updates that are limited to 140 characters that are called “tweets.” You are free to talk about whatever you want, but of course you will concentrate on discussing topics relevant to your industry. If others are interested in your updates they can sign up to follow you and you can do the same by following leaders in your industry. The power of Twitter for a job seeker lies in the fact that you can follow other Twitterers without having to ask for their permission. Soon you can start a conversation with your followers and in time you can let them know you are looking for a job. You would be surprised how many will be willing to help you out.
Blogs. Don’t be eager to discard blogs simply because you are intimidated by writing long posts. Blogs are powerful and allow you to greatly control your message in ways other social media channels don’t let you. Setting up your blog using one of the free hosted services such as wordpress.com or blogger.com takes a few minutes and is well worth your time. Start by composing 5-10 initial posts that display your expertise in a given field. Make sure your blog posts include links to blogs of well known experts in your industry. Visit their blogs to make thoughtful comments and link back to your own blog. The more relevant content you have on your blog and throughout all of your social media channels the faster Google will index you for relevant keywords. Just think about how impressed your hiring manager will be to read your blog posts that offers thoughtful advice on exactly the problem they are trying to solve.
The channels referenced above are by no means the only ones out there to help you with your job searching activity, but they are the most well known and attracting the largest amount of people and volume is what you need when building your online network.
Before we start talking about individual tactics let’s make sure you have a plan.
WHAT’S YOUR OBJECTIVE?
I know the main goal is to land a job, but you can go about it many ways. Erin Groner on her blog came up with the following helpful questions to get you started:
- Who do you want to reach and what are they currently doing online?
- What message do you want to get across to them?
- Why would they want to talk to you? How can you add value to their current conversations – rather than trying to force them to join your new conversation?
- How can you use social media tools to reach them?
If you have not done it yet, write answers to these questions on paper. I promise having a written roadmap before jumping into individual social media channels will pay off.
Here are some additional tips on how to use individual social media channels the most effectively to achieve your job searching objectives.
PROVE YOU ARE AN EXPERT
Social media channels provides you with opportunities to prove that you are the expert in your area of expertise. By publishing your content online you make sure it gets indexed by all major search engines and continue to work for you long after you are done posting it. Use your blog to post relevant articles about your industry, try answering questions on LinkedIn or join in the discussion on Facebook’s groups. Remember to always point to your blog’s “About Me” page where you list all of your social media channels and ways people can contact you online and off-line.
BUILD YOUR NETWORK
You need people who know other people. These are the folks who can connect you to their contacts and expose you to a much larger group of professionals for whom you are no longer a stranger. One of these folks might be hiring and you can get your foot in the door that way. LinkedIn does it beautifully by letting you set up online contacts and be introduced to your contacts’ contacts including a discrete online communication channel.
MAKE NEW CONNECTIONS
Whether being referred to by a friend on LinkedIn, following somebody on Twitter or joining a group on Facebook you need to expand your horizons and make meaningful new connections. The emphasis is on the word meaningful. It’s not the numbers game. You may have 500 connections in your LinkedIn profile, but connecting on a personal level is what you are after. I know it takes time, but stick with it.
Publishing on the internet is instant, free and viral. Take advantage of it and get your name out there. No matter what channels you use make sure you consistently brand yourself with the same picture, keyword-rich bio and links to your other online publishing channels including your blog and LinkedIn account. Don’t forget to include your blog URL on your resume, on your business card and in your email signature section.
STAY CONNECTED AND ON TOP OF THINGS
So you found several interesting blogs, joined a few new social groups, posted comments to a user forum now how can you stay connected to your new friends without spending hours hopping from site to site? Yes, there is a way to save your valuable time by using the RSS technology. Keep track of all your online sources from one place with the help of RSS feeds that allows for information from multiple sources to feed into one place where you can view it at your leisure. Google makes it easy by letting you set up your iGoogle page where you can see recently updated information from multiple sources neatly displayed on one page and updated in real time. That’s a real time saver.
Overwhelmed by creating content for multiple social network channels? You don’t have to. Think about leveraging content you post in one channel and reusing it across multiple channels. Your tweets can update your Facebook status page and populate your blog while your blog posts can automatically appear on your Facebook page. This means you can write something once and have it post in multiple sources. Check out ping.fm for more info.
DO SMART RESEARCH
How do you find information about your prospective employer? You can go to their websites, but that’s just what everybody else does. You can do a Google search, but you’ll end up with thousands of results with few opportunities to weed through the junk. Social media can help you there as well. Try looking at your prospective employer’s profiles on LinkedIn, get a flavor of their culture by reading their blog, check out their groups or fan pages on Facebook or follow their Twitter steam for latest company news. You’ll learn things no “About Us” pages ever contain and get a glimpse into the corporate culture of your prospective employer that you can use later on when speaking with them during your job interview.
If you are looking for a job good luck and I hope you’ll find it with the help of social media tools. If you have a job you should pause right now and think about the future. Social media and online relationship building is here to stay and can prove to be invaluable in advancing your career.