When it comes to social media and job hunting, it’s no longer a question of whether we should be using it, but how we should be using it. According to figures from Work Without Borders, more than 90% of employers are now using platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for recruitment.
So, rather than leaving things to chance or worrying about what employers might find when they look you up online, why not take an active approach and make sure you’re visible for the right reasons?
Social media can help you with everything from developing your personal brand and establishing yourself as an expert to identifying new job opportunities and making sure employers know that you’re seeking new opportunities.
If using social media strategically in your job search isn’t something you’re familiar with, here are some of the most significant ways you can start using it to further your career.
The most important way to use social media for professional purposes is as a platform to showcase your skills, talents and professional experience. Start with one or two platforms that you want to use in your job search and focus on building a positive presence there.
LinkedIn is the most important social network, as it allows you to upload your resume, share relevant projects and updates, highlight your most important skills, experience and education, and even let employers know that you’re looking for a new job.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can also be useful, although it depends on the field you work in. For example, if you’re a writer, Twitter is a great place to share articles or snippets of your latest work. If you’re a photographer, on the other hand, Instagram might be more worth your while, since it allows you to showcase your photography skills and build up a strong body of work to share with potential clients.
Once you’ve ensured that you’re displaying the right information on your social networks, it’s time to focus on making connections within your industry. If you go about it the right way, connecting with other professionals online can eventually lead to face-to-face opportunities.
Start by connecting with the people you actually know and have worked with, whether they are former teachers and classmates or colleagues, clients and employers from previous jobs. It’s also a good idea to follow influencers and organisations you’re interested in.
Avoid sending out requests to people you don’t really know just for the sake of increasing your network. Instead, try to build relationships organically and find non-intrusive ways to interact with people, such as liking and sharing posts you find useful, offering your own insights when appropriate, and participating in discussions on Twitter or in Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
Another thing social media can be invaluable for is displaying recommendations from people you’ve worked with in a professional capacity. Having positive recommendations or reviews from the right people can help you stand out when potential employers visit your page.
LinkedIn is the best social network for this purpose, but there are others such as Facebook and the lesser known BranchOut that allow people to leave you a review if your page is set up as a business.
Don’t request a recommendation from someone who knows you as a friend but hasn’t worked with you, as these types of reviews won’t be credible. The best recommendations will come from people you’ve worked with closely, as they will be able to speak knowledgeably about your skills and experience.
If you need the recommendation for a specific job or want the referee to mention a particular skill, it’s fine to suggest certain keywords you’d like them to include. As long as you’re being honest, your connections will welcome some guidance when crafting their recommendation.
Since so many employers and recruiters are now using social media to identify potential candidates, it’s a good idea to add something to your online profiles letting people know that you’re currently looking for a new job or changing careers.
LinkedIn has a feature that lets you privately signal to employers that you’re open to new job opportunities, but you can mention that you’re looking for a job in your bio or tagline on any of your other social media profiles too.
Use keywords like “Seeking new role” or “Open to new opportunities” along with industry-related keywords and relevant terminology to make it easier for employers to find you.
Once you’ve landed yourself an interview, it’s important to gather as much information about the company as possible so you can make a good first impression. In addition to its main website, the company’s social media pages are often the best place to carry out your initial research as they’ll give you an insight into the company culture, branding and dress code.
Most organizations these days have at least a Facebook and LinkedIn page where you can see any recent posts or updates about the company, such as photos or links to news articles. Pay attention to the type of content the company shares, as well as the way it interacts with its followers and customers, as this will tell you a lot about its day-to-day workings.
Some questions to ask while doing your pre-interview research include “Who are the company’s main competitors?” “What are the company’s successes and challenges?” and “What are the company’s values?
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Marianne Stenger is a writer and journalist with Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She covers everything from the latest research in education to career development. Follow her on Twitteror find her latest articles here.