Utilizing Social Media for Your Job Search

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The way people look for jobs has rapidly evolved over the last few decades. The days of scanning through the want ads of your local newspaper are ancient history. Like many other aspects of business, the job search has moved online with job boards like Monster, Jobing, and Indeed popping up all over the place. But even job boards are losing a bit of their former luster. In their place, social media is emerging as the hot new way to find your dream job. Here’s how social media can help (or harm) your job search. 

Eliminate the Negatives

Even if you don’t want to leverage social media to help your job search, make sure your online profiles aren’t hindering your chances. Before you apply for any jobs, go clean up your profiles. Take a look at all of your online photos and all of your posts and ask yourself if this is honestly something you’d want a potential employer to see. Make no mistake, employers are checking applicants’ social media profiles more and more. Delete, hide, untag, or make private anything that could be considered offensive or controversial. Don’t let those old pictures of you getting wild on spring break ruin your employment opportunities.  

Start with LinkedIn

Any discussion about using social media to land a job has to include LinkedIn. The platform was basically created to help people manage their careers and it has become a cornerstone of the job search process. If you’re looking for a job, get familiar with LinkedIn.

First, make sure you have a complete LinkedIn profile. It will take some time, but try to complete every section of the profile page. And yes, add a professional-looking picture. Recruiters reference these profiles, so give them as much information as possible.

Your profile isn’t complete, however, unless you have some recommendations from peers. Be an active participant on LinkedIn and grow your network by connecting with current and former colleagues. You can ask them to offer recommendations or you can get the ball rolling by adding recommendations on their profiles. These third-party endorsements look great to recruiters. 

Once you’re satisfied with your profile, search for jobs on LinkedIn. One big advantage that LinkedIn holds over other job boards is that the platform connects the dots between you and the job you’re applying for. Job postings will show any connections you may have at the company. If you find a connection, go ahead and reach out. This may feel a little awkward – especially if you’ve lost touch with the connection – but most people are happy to help. You can begin the conversation by explaining that you’re thinking about applying for a job with their employer and you’re looking for some pointers. Your connection may put in a good word for you or offer to submit your resume to the appropriate person. 

LinkedIn will also sometimes show the profile of the recruiter who posted the job. This can be valuable intelligence. Review the recruiter’s profile and see if anything jumps out at you. Maybe you share some common interests, have worked in the same industry, or have similar backgrounds. Any of that information can be subtly included in your resume or cover letter, which may help you stand out from the stack of resumes the recruiter will likely receive. 

Put Facebook to Work for You

Most people don’t think of their Facebook profile as a career tool – it’s just the place where they post cat videos and Willy Wonka memes. Facebook does possess real potential for job seekers though. 

The first step in leveraging Facebook for your job search is easy: let everyone know that you’re looking for a job. Create a post that clearly explains what type of a job you’re looking for and ask if anyone has any leads. You may be surprised by the responses you receive. After all, your contacts on Facebook are personal friends and family members who care about you and your success. 

You may want to consider creating a second profile on Facebook too. This one will be your “professional” profile. Make this profile public and use it to position yourself as an expert in your industry. Post your thoughts and advice on industry-related topics. Share relevant articles. Use this profile to follow industry leaders and to join business groups. You’ll expand your professional network and increase your credibility. 

Don’t Forget about Twitter

Twitter can be implemented in your job search in much the same way as Facebook, but the subtle differences between the two platforms require slightly different approaches. Again, feel free to notify your followers that you are looking for a job. Twitter’s restrictive character limit makes it challenging to elaborate too much about what you’re looking for, but try to give as much detail as you can.

One of the best aspects of Twitter, however, is the fact that it gives you great access to people and businesses who could really help you in your job search. If you’re targeting a specific company or industry, follow leaders in those areas on Twitter and retweet their posts. You may get them to follow you. Bam! You’ve just made a valuable connection.

Also, following specific companies will give you greater insight into how the company positions itself and some of the issues it faces. You can reference this information in your cover letter and bring it up during interviews. Interviewers love to hear that an applicant knows something about the company. Better yet, you may be able to suggest some improvements during the interview that would help address some of the company’s problems. 

Just as businesses are using social media to promote their brand and engage with prospects, you should use social media to promote your personal brand and form connections. When utilized correctly, social media can be your secret weapon in the job search. 

Written by Erik Siwak, Communications Manager for Bridgepoint Education

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