If there's one tip, one piece of advice, I would give any job seeker, it's to learn how to use social media to help in your job search. At this point you might be thinking, "I get it, I have a LinkedIn profile." Having a LinkedIn profile is an essential first step (and many people don't do that well), but more importantly, the real power and advantage of social media for job seekers is the ability to research employers, connect with them, and establish relationships. The research you do, and the connections you make can help you identify more, and better, job opportunities, and give you the advantage in the interview process. I'll lay it all out for you:
How Important is Social Media to Job Seekers?
First, let's look at why social media is so important to job seekers. Here are some stats:
- 73% of 18-34 year olds found their last job through a social network. Source.
- 30% of all Google searches, about 300 million per month, are employment related. Source.
- 14.4 million job seekers have used social networks to find a job. Source.
- 94% of companies are using social media to recruit. Source.
- 94% of recruiters use, or plan to use social media for recruiting. This number has increased steadily for the last 6 years. Source.
- 73% of companies successfully hired a candidate through social media. Source.
- 89% of all recruiters report having hired someone through LinkedIn. Source.
Companies are looking for candidates on social media - not only do you have to be there, but you have to present yourself better than other competing candidates.
Your LinkedIn Profile is Key - Do it Right
The first, essential element to using social media to find a job is your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is where companies and recruiters look for talent. People ask, "What should take priority, LinkedIn or my resume?" The answer: LinkedIn. LinkedIn profiles are slowly overtaking resumes in importance according to a CIO article. Profiles and resumes are slightly different. Your LinkedIn profile should be broader and more generalized, while resumes can be more tailored to specific positions. But, if your LinkedIn profile isn't good enough, you might never make it into the initial pool of candidates. The lesson: Get your LinkedIn profile right, then copy and paste elements of it to create a paper resume which you can then customize for specific job positions.
For the best profile, do the fundamentals right. Add a professional, current photo. Update your experience, projects, personal interests, organizations you're active in, and publications you've authored or co-authored. For a nice infographic on how to complete your LinkedIn profile, see these 10 tips on Creating a Killer LinkedIn Profile.
While your LinkedIn profile shouldn't be as specific as a resume, because multiple employers with different positions to fill will likely see it, you can create a profile to find the type of position you want. This is similar to the old saying, "dress for the job you want, not the job you have." Beyond profile fundamentals, I recommend the following:
- Update previous position descriptions to accentuate the type of job you're looking for. For example, if you want to break into software development for gaming, highlight gaming development experience. Accentuate the aspects for former positions that map to the types of job you would like to get
- Be positive throughout, about yourself, your skills, former employers, everything
- Get your profile copy edited
- Have lots of people review your profile and give you feedback
- Refine your profile where appropriate based on that feedback
- If you have a personal website, do the same for that and link to that website from your LinkedIn profile
One important note: Always be truthful on your profile. Always. It's very easy for people to find out if you're lying. It's fine to accentuate or highlight certain elements, but don't omit portions of your experience or imply some roles or responsibilities were larger than they actually were. It will come back to bite you.
The Real Social Media Magic - Research Employers and Build Relationships
Do you like going to job interviews? If you're like most people, it's probably a mix of feelings. Excitement, and anxiety. For some, it's sheer terror. Why? It's like taking a test. You want to do well, you just wish you knew the questions in advance. Not only can social media tell you the questions in advance, it can help you become friends with the people asking them.
Most companies have multiple social media accounts. Many hiring managers, company employees, and hiring decision makers also have social media accounts. There are also likely key influencers that publish on social media, giving their perspectives on behalf of the company. These are all people you can follow. By following them you learn many things:
- The products and services they are pushing.
- Their value proposition. That's value they want to bring to their customers, which translates into skills and qualities they're looking for in prospective candidates.
- The important issues and concerns at both an organizational level, and, individual level.
Odds are, the stuff they're talking about on social is the stuff they're going to be asking about in an interview.
But social media is about more than doing research, it's about being social. Following people provides an opportunity to really connect with them and establish a relationship. This may take some time, and it has to be real. If you follow someone and comment on a post they publish, the comment should provide insight or opinion that is relevant and valuable. If your comment is, "That's a great post." You're not developing a relationship, you're pandering. However, if you tell them why it's a great post, and provide insights on how you will use the information from the post, that's relevant and valuable. As I said, it may take some time, but if you do it right, you will actually form real connections that may just help you find a good job.
Knowing how to use social media can provide you with real advantage in your job search. This applies to job seekers of all types, at all stages of their careers. A great LinkedIn profile can get you noticed, and help make it past HR into the candidate pool. Social media networking skills can help you research companies, positions, and individuals. More than that, good social media skills can help you establish real, meaningful relationships that can help you land a great job, that you really want.
Over to You
If you've used social media to help find a job, prepare for an interview, or connect with people at prospective employers, I'd like to hear about it. Please let me know in the comments.