With professional networking sites like LinkedIn creating social platforms for professionals to connect and communicate, social media has grown beyond being a way to keep in touch with friends and family. It is now a powerful networking tool for businesses and professionals and a key element of the modern job-seeking process.
Looking for work is stressful at the best of times: writing and printing multiple copies of your CV and cover letter; scouring job ads; applying for as many positions as you can and anxiously waiting for a phone call or email. This is the traditional method of finding a job and also a method that appears to be on its way to becoming obsolete.
Social media as a recruitment tool also has numerous benefits for employers. It gives them the ability to search for the type of candidate they are looking for and connect with them directly, cutting out the “middlemen”like Seek.com and MyCareer and saving the employer the expense of paying for job advertising.
With headhunting becoming a more common way for recruiters to find their next staff member, it really isn’t surprising that 90% of jobs are never advertised. This is a big deal as it means that if you only stick to traditional methods of job hunting you are only exploring 10% of the job market!
So how can you maximise the effectiveness of social media to help find that next great career opportunity? LinkedIn and Twitter are the main networks to focus on, but it is important to keep all social networks in mind.
LinkedIn has gained a lot of credibility amongst professionals and companies – with its resume-style profile structure and professionalism, it’s no wonder that as of August 2, 2012 there were 175 million professionals signed up worldwide.
In my own jobseeking experiences recently, four out of five of my interviews came from social media and three from LinkedIn. I have found LinkedIn to be the best tool by far when looking for work – you just have to market yourself well and ensure you’re making the most of what LinkedIn has to offer.
The first thing you need to do when you log in to LinkedIn is update your profile, making sure you:
- Have a standout headline. Don’t just list your current position in your headline: if you are looking for work, you want people to know so include it here along with any key words relating to the type of role you’re seeking. For example, “Social Media Marketing Professional Seeking a New and Exciting Opportunity”.
- Update all relevant experience and skills. Think of your profile as your virtual CV: you want it to speak clearly to any potential employers about why you would be the ideal candidate.
- Ask for recommendations – and not just from past employers. You can ask for endorsement from anyone you have done business with in any way. Recommendations always look good and act as a reference, so the more the better!
- Have a clear and professional-looking profile picture. It’s very important to include a profile image to let people see who you are. While your appearance shouldn’t affect your candidacy for a position, it’s always nice to be able to see who you are connecting with. Make sure it is a nice photo that sends the right message about your professional image.
Once your profile is up-to-date, it’s time to start connecting! Start with people you know personally and professionally, connect with them and ask them if they know of anyone who is hiring – then reach out to people in your industry. The ‘People You May Know’ page is a great way to find people to invite into your network. Sending a personalised message rather than an automated request is also a good way to introduce yourself to people who may be able to help you find work.
Keep proactive across all areas of LinkedIn. Join groups that are relevant to your industry and engage in conversations, post status updates about any industry or networking events you may go to, share interesting links and stories and like and comment on other people’s updates. All this helps to establish your presence on LinkedIn and will help the right person with the right job find you.
Twitter is another great social tool to incorporate in your job search activities. It’s a good idea to do some research to find out who the recruiters are for the companies you are targeting in your job search – this way you can follow them on Twitter and casually communicate with them.
It can also be helpful to mention that you are looking for work (and the kind of work) in the brief bio on your profile as well as your location and link to your LinkedIn profile. Also make sure your profile picture is representative of you: while remembering that this is social media, you still want to present a positive and professional image to potential recruiters.
While LinkedIn and Twitter are currently the most useful and effective social media sites for jobseekers, Facebook is not completely irrelevant and is quickly catching up. One of my recent interviews came from a job ad posted on the company’s Facebook page and now that Facebook are preparing to launch their new jobs board, they are catching on to this major shift in the way recruitment is being carried out and becoming a real contender.
It is also important to keep in mind that potential employers may look up your Facebook profile after you submit an application. Be very aware of what you post on Facebook (or any social medium for that matter) and make sure you either have a profile that you would feel comfortable with them seeing, or very strict privacy settings.
I’ve done all this, now what?
Once you have updated all your profiles and connected with the right people, it is very important that you don’t stop! Keep proactive and engaged with all the networks you are on and don’t lose sight of your objective. The more proactive you are, the sooner that new job will come along – just be patient and stay positive.