You use social media sites in your personal life but are you using them in your job search? Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can help you track down hidden opportunities, make valuable connections and establish a name for yourself in your industry. Here’s how to get the most out of them…
Why you should use social media
Most jobs are never advertised. After all, why would an employer pay to advertise a vacancy when they can recruit internally, ask existing employees for their recommendations or contact/respond to speculative approaches from professionals already known to them?
More than half of employers (54%) use social media in their recruitment process, according to a survey by CIPD. Yet only 16 per cent of job seekers use social media to find out about organisations they’re interested in working for. While most job seekers aren’t using social media to its full potential, the chance of finding work this way is reasonably good. You have a one-in-three chance of seeing a job through social media that you feel is worth applying for and a one-in-nine chance of finding a job this way, according to CIPD research.
Here’s how to use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in your job search…
LinkedIn allows you to set up a profile page (much like an online CV), find and link to people in your network, follow companies and join discussions.
• Search the “groups” function to take part in debates and answer questions. This will boost your visibility and establish your expertise in the industry. Contacts you make through groups may pass on job opportunities, or may themselves be recruiters or hiring managers.
• “Follow” companies you are interested in working for. That way you can keep up to date with their plans (when they’re expanding or restructuring) and when they’re hiring.
• By following a company, you can see if anyone in your network is already connected to people employed there. Be proactive and ask your existing contacts to put you in touch.
• Once you’ve linked with colleagues, managers and clients, request a “recommendation”. Be generous and write recommendations for others (you don’t have to wait to be asked).
• Employers use LinkedIn as a way to broaden their selection pool and screen candidates. Make sure you’re easy to find by including industry-standard keywords in your job title and profile. You might think of yourself as a “guru” or “visionary” in your industry but employers won’t be searching on those terms when they’re looking to fill a vacancy.
• Sell your achievements. Link out to videos, slideshows, PowerPoint presentations, creative portfolios, websites, articles and blogs.
• Use the site to search for hiring managers and make an informed speculative approach. When the company is looking to hire, you’ve already proven yourself to be motivated and interested in working for the organisation.
• Use activity updates to share news about events, business achievements or comment on topical issues to remind people what you have to offer.
Twitter allows you to follow and interact with leading industry professionals, keep up to date with company’s news, search for jobs and run your own personal PR campaign.
• Follow organisations or hiring managers and send a message to start a conversation.
• Use hashtags (#) to search for topics of interest and to make your tweets more visible to the people you are trying to reach.
• Use hashtags to find jobs you’re interested in, for example #prjobs or #salesjobs. Search for #hiring to see who has an opening. Some HR professionals tag job openings #HR.
• Let others know about the talk you’ve given, the industry event you attended, your latest business success, or blog posting by linking out to other media for more information.
• Once you’ve found a contact on Twitter, search for and approach them on LinkedIn.
Many companies have a Facebook page, which they use to communicate with clients, customers and the general public.
• “Like” companies that you are interested in and interact with them by commenting or asking questions.
• Search out interest groups on Facebook in your industry/career area of choice. Find out about networking events.
• If you make professional contacts through Facebook be sure to only post updates that are relevant (no holiday snaps) that reveal your knowledge or passion on a particular topic.
• Use Facebook to ask friends and family for contacts or advice that might help with your job search. You never know who knows someone who knows someone.
• Make sure your ‘Contact’ and ‘Work and Education’ information is visible and up to date. If you’re currently looking for work, don’t be shy about telling the world.
Manage your online reputation
Nearly half of employers use social media to screen potential staff – and more than half of these have found content that meant they didn’t hire an applicant, according to a recent CareerBuilder.co.uk survey.
Most firms Google applicants, and more than fifth do this as a matter of routine. Do a Google search on yourself and see what comes up. One of the most likely places an employer will find information about you is your Facebook page. To be safe, increase your privacy settings and remove the ability for others to tag you in photos, or untag yourself from photos you don’t want a potential employer to see.
Depending on the industry, you may want an employer to see your Facebook posts. For example, if you’re hoping to work for a PR company in the music industry, it may help your prospects to upload photos of you seeing a new band every night. A legal company may not look on the photos so favourably.
Bad spelling and grammar on social networking sites, or comments you’ve left on forums, YouTube, Google+ circles and blogs, can also make a bad impression. Make sure you haven’t ranted about a company or expressed views that may be contrary to an employer’s policy.
If you find anything that may affect the perception of your online ‘brand’ take it down. Remember, if you can find it – so can a potential employer.