Lately it seems like everywhere you turn, there are articles and blog posts discussing using social media to find a job. This can be very overwhelming, particularly for job seekers who have never used social media before. I have summarized some helpful tips on using SM. It can be a lot of fun but like anything else online, if there is not a plan, you can get lost for hours and not really accomplish anything. I hope this will help someone to be less intimidated by social media and use if effectively in the job search.
1. Just get started and don’t worry if it starts slowly.
First, set up profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, and maybe Facebook. Then think about who you would like to reach. Realize that this is not about asking for jobs but getting to know the right people. Read blogs that pertain to your area of expertise and just make comments. Search for both people and subjects on Twitter and respond. Search for subjects in discussion groups on LinkedIn and join those groups. Use these comments and discussions and tweets as a way to reach out on other forms of SM.
2. Remember the culture of SM is to give.
Give information, give product or industry knowledge, give suggestions. You search Twitter for relevant subjects and follow the people who are discussing these subjects. Most of the time they will follow you back. Read blogs on your industry and comment on them. Then search for the bloggers on Twitter, etc and use your comment as a way to connect with them. If you can come up with valuable information for people it provides a springboard for many ways to build up your network. Answer questions and provide solutions using your own network if possible. All of these things are important but the most important thing to remember is to try to be connected to people at the organizations where you would like to work or who are hiring managers in your industry.
3. Use SM to demonstrate your knowledge.
If you know a lot about something in your industry, follow the people in your industry and respond to tweets, comment on blogs, participate in group discussions relevant to the type of job you are looking for. Anything to make yourself more visible and demonstrate your knowledge to the crowd that will be hiring you.
4. Define your target audience.
It doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 followers on Twitter if the people who need to be impressed by your knowledge are not in that list of followers. Also, remember that everything you do on SM is visible so be careful of political posts and pictures or status updates that you wouldn’t want a potential boss to see or read.
5. When builiding your network, personalize your invitations to connect.
Write something like, “I read your blog and commented about your most recent post. This topic is very interesting and I thought you brought up some great points. Can we connect?” in a LinkedIn invitation.
6. Set a strategy to leverage your network.
An example of lack of strategy and incorrect use of SM would be for a job seeker to ask their networks if they have job openings. That is not really the best way to utilize networking of any kind. The best way to take advantage of your network using social media is to target companies who have the type of job you are looking for, and then use your connections to figure out how to get in the door of that organization. Or target specific people (hiring managers) and try to connect to them through a SM platform like LinkedIn or Facebook. Your networks can help you figure out who is connected to whom to help you with personal introductions. Think of it as a people or company search, rather than a job search.
7. Use a number of sites together.
I consider LinkedIn and Twitter a must. LinkedIn is the professional platform and Twitter is a great tool to search for organizations and people. This allows you to follow them, read the things they are reading and find other ways to connect. There are also a lot of niche SM sites out there that can be found by reading blogs and learning about the people who comment on those. Subscribe to these blogs and comment regularly. Once you are doing it, you will see how different names pop up repeatedly and different sites will be referred to consistently. All of these things will tell you what you need to be reading and where you need to participate to build a following in your industry.
8. Be creative and aware that you can touch TONS of people.
I think the best thing about using SM for a job search is that you are able to demonstrate your knowledge and interact with many, many more people than you can using traditional job search methods. Also, it demonstrates that you are progressive in that you have taken the time to learn how to use it. It allows you to include links on your signatures in any format – traditional cover letters, emails, your resume, etc. For example, you can create a minute and a half video resume and post it on You Tube and then post that link all over the place. Or include the link to your video resume on a cover letter, or in your email signature. Use your profile links on all your correspondence. Using SM for a job search allows you to be very creative.
9. Do not disregard traditional job search methods. Instead use SM to augment your search.
The best job search strategy is a combination of the old and the new. If you can engage in SM with employees of a company you’d like to work for or hiring managers in your industry, you can then take it to a personal stage with a little bit of trust and credibility already in the bank. You can use whatever means possible to connect and engage with your target audience to turn a cold call or cover letter type of situation into a quick conversation between two people who already know each other. For example, you may follow someone you need to know on Twitter. They follow you back. You comment back and forth and start a relationship. You then use that to connect on LinkedIn. There you see in the profile this person likes golf and so do you, so you now create conversation about golf. The natural progression is the ability to call this person on the phone and have a conversation. What would have been a cold call to try to meet someone is now a warm call because some conversation has already taken place.
10. Have fun and use SM to keep your spirits up.
You will also find that there are a lot of other people in the same boat – searching for a job. Connect with other job seekers to share experiences, learn from others’ mistakes, and stay motivated by reading success stories. Provide assistance everywhere you can and you will get the same in return.