When it comes to job hunting, most of us know the saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In this age of social media, we’re more connected than ever before. More job seekers are using social media to find and research new opportunities – while employers are using it to suss out candidates.
But many people are still making basic mistakes. We’ve all heard of the dangers that an inappropriate Facebook photo, or ill-judged Tweet can do to our careers. Miss Seattle 2012 (a.k.a. Jean-Sun Hannah Ahn) recently learned this lesson the hard way. She almost lost her title after Twitter rants such as “Take me back to az! Ugh can’t stand cold rainy Seattle and the annoying people.”
But other smaller mistakes could be harmful. Not updating a LinkedIn profile, or not separating private and professional social networks can damage your career prospects. And few people use the full power of their social networks.
A survey by Kelly Services Inc. found that only 24 per cent of American job seekers were more likely to use social media than traditional methods, such as newspapers, job boards and recruitment firms. And many people aren’t aware that well-known companies such as Starbucks, Citibank and UPS use Twitter and Facebook to recruit. TweetMyJobs found an impressive 45 percent of companies planned to invest more in social recruiting in 2012.
Here are seven ways to find your next career move, and stand out from the crowd for the right reasons.
Join LinkedIn – and make sure your profile is up to date
There might be dozens of social media sites, but LinkedIn is the most career-focused one. Your profile has room for all the information on your resume, while the summary section is the perfect place to let potential employers know you’re looking for new opportunities. A useful feature is it tells you whether someone is a “first, second or third degree” connection, meaning you can ask one of your existing contacts for an introduction.
There are several ways to make your profile stand out. Ask former employers or colleagues to write a recommendation or endorse your skills. You can even add a video to introduce yourself. Join relevant LinkedIn groups, post news, and contribute to discussions. There are more than 1 million groups, so find the most popular ones for your chosen field.
Set up an alternative Twitter and Facebook
If you’re serious in your job search, it’s best to separate your personal and professional profiles. Set up Facebook and Twitter profiles aimed at future employers, and make sure the settings on your personal accounts are private. Include your main skills and selling points in your Twitter bio, and include a link to your resume. Make sure your avatar looks professional. Try to establish yourself as an “expert” in your field, by tweeting about the latest industry news and trends.
Use social jobseeking tools
As well as following companies you’re interested in, investigate the growing number of social recruitment tools. Services such as TweetMyJobs allow you to enter your preferences and receive regular alerts with job adverts by mobile, email or Twitter. Use tools such as LinkedIn’s Job Change Notifier to keep up to date when your connections get promoted or move company.
Engage with potential employers
How you make contact will depend on the platform. LinkedIn allows for more private conversation, so this is a good way to introduce yourself directly. But on Twitter it’s best to start with following companies and employers you’re interested in. Try to communicate your knowledge and skills before jumping in and asking about a job. While social media can be a great way of making yourself known, don’t be shy about suggesting a face-to-face meeting over coffee.
Remember, most jobs aren’t advertised. Even if a company isn’t advertising for any vacancies, you might find they have a need for someone with your particular skillset.
Research the company you’re applying for
It’s becoming more common for interviewers to ask candidates what they think of their social media feeds. Even if they don’t, it’s a good way to know the latest news about the company. It will also give you an insight into their culture, and how formal the workplace is.
Monitor your online reputation
It should go without saying that you’ve cleaned up your Facebook profile, deleted any embarrassing photos and controversial tweets. But it’s vital to be vigilant about your reputation online. If you’re concerned about this, there are a number of tools such as Google’s Social Mention that can monitor your name across social networks. And make sure you “untag” yourself in any unflattering pictures posted by friends.
Don’t forget smaller networks
Having set up professional LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts, you might think you’ve covered all bases. But depending on your industry and skills, it’s worth considering other platforms. Blogs can be a great way of interacting with people in your field, and demonstrating your enthusiasm and expertise.
There are also a number of niche social networks that can be useful tools. These range from the recently launched SumZero, which allows investors to share tips, to UnTappd, a community for beer enthusiasts and the brewing industry.
Looking for a position is always tough, especially in a crowded market. But with a little effort, social media can help you make the most of your connections and find new opportunities.