Job-Searching Using Social Media

Finding a new job is an increasingly difficult task. Competition for work is fierce and employers are increasingly reluctant to take risks. Job-seekers therefore need to find any edge they can to get ahead of the pack and sometimes a great CV and covering letter just isn’t enough. One way of standing out from the crowd is to not just tell employers what you have to offer – but to show them. In this guide, Nick Waller, Managing Director of YourRetailJob.com shows how social media can offer job-seekers a multitude of ways to display their skills, talents and personality.
 
     1.     Have a plan
It’s important to have an idea at the beginning of the process as to what you want to achieve from using social media for your job search. Who are the people you want to reach? What do you want them to notice you for? What channels fit best with the work that you do? The answers to these questions will give you a good understanding of your potential audience, the right social media tools to use and the approach you should take in order to reach those people.

     2.     Keep your profiles clean
This may seem like obvious common sense, but don’t make an idiot of yourself online! All too often we hear in the news about how some employee’s short-sighted tweeting cost them their job or a large company’s bafflingly insensitive Facebook status. The golden rule in television is, “When in doubt, your microphone is always on.” The same applies to the internet: Everything you post, tweet or comment on is being recorded and may come back to haunt you. If a tweet can get you fired, it can also prevent you from being recruited.

     3.     …But show some personality
On the other hand, don’t be too careful. While you’ll want to avoid uploading incriminating photos, don’t let fear prevent you from posting anything at all. An employer will undoubtedly be looking for a candidate who is social and outgoing and with strong networking and communication skills. They’ll also be looking for someone with character, who stands out from the crowd. Be bold, be opinionated, be unique, but always bear in mind who may be reading it!

     4.    Start a blog and express yourself
It’s never been easier to set up a blog. As well as free platforms like WordPress.com and Tumblr, for those looking to create something with a little more substance, open source software such as Drupal and WordPress.org allow you to create and host a website using a custom domain and identity. Think about the type of work you want your ideal employer to see from you. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, this could include branding concepts, typography or website layouts. Or if you’re a chef, you could use your blog to post your own recipes and culinary ideas. A blog allows you to express yourself and demonstrate thought-leadership in your area of interest, expertise or profession.

     5.     Build your professional network using LinkedIn
As the world’s largest professional social network, LinkedIn is an ideal platform for connecting and networking with others within your sphere of expertise. Many people consider LinkedIn to be simply an online version of their CV, but it’s much more than that. Once you discover how to use LinkedIn effectively, you’ll see that there are a number of great ways to grow your network as well as further display your own skills and experience to potential employers in your industry.

Start of by searching for and connecting with past and present employers, colleagues and clients. These newly connected contacts can be helpful when you require a reference and also open up new connections and opportunities with potential employers.

If there’s a specific company you’re interested in, you can search on that company and hopefully find people who are connected to other people you already know. You can then ask your personal contact to connect you. It also allows you to see profiles of anyone else on LinkedIn and gives you ways to connect to them.
 
The key LinkedIn features to consider include:
  a)   Create a detailed, focused profile targeted at your ideal employer
  b)   Connect and build your network
  c)   Recommend others as this will encourage people to recommend you in return
  d)   Join groups and add value to the conversations and discussions

     6.     Get Twittering!
Twitter is a brilliant tool for building a following, becoming part of a community and getting a message out to a large number of people in concise, simple updates. The best part of Twitter though is that it allows you to connect with people you don't know, based on common interests. This is a great way to facilitate face-to-face networking and can point you in the direction of opportunities to meet mutual friends and upcoming industry / networking events.
 
Twitter can be used to share and distribute content to your following. The aim should be to add value to other people’s Twitter streams and encourage them to share your content with their following, thus improving the chances of getting your content out to a much wider audience and gain the attention of potential employers.
 
One way to find a job using Twitter can be to use the site’s inbuilt search engine and try searching for your industry hashtag prepended by the word ‘jobs’ e.g. #manufacturing jobs or #manufacturingjobs and you’ll more than likely be presented with hundreds of the latest recruitment vacancies.
 
If you already have your mind set on working for a particular company, you could follow them on twitter. It doesn’t cost a thing and provides you with an instant insight into the company plus you’ll will be the first to hear about their latest news, updates and hopefully… vacancies.
 
Try and make your Twitter presence 'employer-friendly' by:
  a)   Putting your job pitch in your Twitter bio.
  b)   Using a professional-looking avatar.
  c)   Tweeting about your job search.
  d)   Including a link to an online CV in your bio.
  e)   Establishing yourself as an expert in your field.

     7.     Using Facebook to mix social and professional networking
There’s been a significant increase in Facebook users over 25, which represents a big increase in the number of users with careers rather than school or college on their agenda. Some of these users are utilising Facebook for professional and business networking, in addition to the social networking that Facebook is famous for. A recent study suggests that 50% of job hunters have used Facebook to find a job.
 
To get started with finding a job on Facebook, be sure to “Like” as many prospective companies from within your sector. By liking a company, you’re now exposed to recent news and job openings directly on your Facebook feed. Next, you need to start participating in conversations by commenting on interesting posts which in turn will increase your visibility with employees at the company.
 
Here are some suggestions on how best to utilise it:
  a)   Take a close look at your Profile and decide exactly what you want prospective employers to see/read.
  b)   Create a simple profile (or clean up with your existing one) with minimal graphics and widgets.
  c)   Limit the photos you post.
  d)   Remember to put your key words in your interests (this is how the search works).
  e)   Post content relevant to your job search or career.

     8.    Connect with the company you want to work for
Don’t be afraid to actively engage the company you’re courting via your tweets and online activity. Any business actively checking a potential candidate’s online profile will most certainly have a social media presence of its own. Therefore, start following its tweets, “like” it on Facebook, etc.

     9.    Spread yourself around
When crafting a proper online appearance, you’ll have better luck sharing the right things once you’ve shared them in all the right places. As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are essential platforms, but there are several other such as Google+ and About.me. Get your name out to as many sources as possible — you’re building strong brand awareness for a vital product - you!
 
The tools I’ve mentioned in this guide are just a handful of what’s available. There are many more to choose from and the key is to pick the platforms and social media networks that work best for you and your job-seeking goals. Your CV and covering letter may still be your opening gambit, but your online life increases in relevance every day, especially as a resource for potential employers. Companies are turning to social networks more than ever and since your social media presence is likely to be investigated prior to your next job, it makes sense to put your virtual house in order.

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