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8 Smart Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search

By Gerald Walsh ©

Not using social media in your job search today is the same as not using the telephone while job searching in the 1990s. It is an indispensable tool that has to be used intelligently to promote yourself and to engage with the right people. This is particularly relevant because most employers and recruitment firms now use social media during the hiring process to find and screen candidates.

Here are eight strategies you should follow to increase your chances of landing the right job:

1. Be online in the right places

If you are looking for a new job now it is vital that you maintain a social media presence on popular sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. But posting a profile and checking news feeds occasionally is not fully exploiting social media. You have to be an active participant with relevant, accurate and current information about yourself. Even if you are not actively looking for a job at the moment, an online presence will make you visible to employers who are scanning social networking sites, particularly LinkedIn, to look for candidates who could possibly be interested in a job down the road.

2. Contribute to the discussion

You can build connections with others by joining groups and following people who are influential and active on social media. Then grow your presence within this network by posting articles, participating in group discussions and sharing your knowledge and expertise. This indirect approach will attract more job opportunities than coming right out and asking for work. And don’t forget to maintain these networks even after you’ve secured a new job.

3. Be truthful

Never lie, mislead or omit important information on social media. The resume you submitted for a particular job should always be consistent with your social media profiles, including your employment status. Don’t give an employer any reason for ruling you out of the competition.

4. Focus on the employer

Make sure that your profile is employer-focused by demonstrating how you can help them achieve their business goals. It’s more than just listing your work history and qualifications. It’s stating your accomplishments and indicating how you have added value to past employers.

And always be professional. Use a good photograph of yourself and an appropriate name, and make certain your profile and online postings are free from grammatical errors and typos.

5. Clean up your digital dirt

Inappropriate photos, offensive comments, or evidence of excessive drinking or drug use have been known to destroy a person’s chance of getting a job offer. If you are graduating soon and will be looking for a job, you don’t want your party photos, even ones you think are harmless, hanging around for years. Likewise, poor communication skills, making disparaging remarks about former employers, and lying about your qualifications will quickly torpedo your candidacy.

6. Manage your privacy settings

It’s a good idea to monitor your privacy settings but don’t become too restrictive. Remember the idea behind social media is that information is shared. You don’t want to make it too difficult for an employer to locate information about you, otherwise they will give up.

7. Being invisible online will work against you

Being silent or invisible online could trigger alarm bells . Even if you are not trying to hide anything but simply don’t have an online presence, you risk coming across as old-fashioned and outdated. This could leave the employer wondering about how current your skills are and they may decide to hire someone else who seems more up-to-date with technology.

8. Connect with potential employers

An online presence not only helps others find you, it will also help you connect with the right people. Despite all the technology, finding a job still means you have to make connections with people. That list is not limited to people who might actually hire you. It includes people who can recommend you to others, people who can help with your job search plan, and people who can build your base of knowledge.

And the best way to connect with these people – especially those whom you don’t already know – is by reaching out through social media networks.

The bottom line is that everything about you on social media should reflect favourably on you, including what other people may post. Ask yourself these questions: Does the content on all platforms work to my advantage? Does it position me professionally? Does it highlight my accomplishments and qualifications in a positive way? If I was a serious candidate for a job, would I be proud if an employer viewed everything about me?

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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and writer. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn