Using Social Media in Your Job Search
Most companies leverage social media as part of their recruiting strategy, so if you don’t use it in your job search you put yourself at a huge disadvantage.
First, determine your brand: How do you want others to see you? Who do you want to find you? What qualities set you apart as professional? Having a clear vision about your social media identity will help the right people want to get to know you.
BUILD YOUR PROFILE
Social media platforms—including LinkedIn, the most important one for job seekers—require that you establish a profile. Doing this properly will make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to find you and determine you value as a candidate. Here are some tips:
Picture: Dress appropriately, and smile! This will encourage people to connect with you. A professional photographer can help create the right image, so take advantage of hiring events that offer free head shots. Use the same profile picture for all your social accounts.
Headline: This is the first thing people see when they view your profile. A successful headline should be pithy, communicate your expertise, and describe the value you can bring to an employer. By default, LinkedIn populates your headline with your current job title and employer, but it’s probably better to create your own. Which sounds better: “Project Engineer with XYZ Company” or “PMP-certified professional engineer, leader of successful multimillion-dollar projects in the US and EU”?
Contact information: Make it easy for people to reach you. Add a phone number and email address that you plan to monitor. Match your voicemail greeting and email address to the image you are trying to project.
Experience: On platforms such as LinkedIn that allow you to highlight work history, sync your content to your resume. Include key words and industry-appropriate terms that are likely to appear in recruiter searches. (Note: The rules for social media content are similar to those for your resume, so look through some of my previous columns for additional tips.)
Profile: Make sure your profile is complete, with all fields populated. Attach your resume, include other documents to support your value proposition, and embed website links. When creating a “handle” or username, choose one that is professional and consistent with your brand.
Separate work from personal: Finally, review your security settings to ensure that your profile is open to your intended audience. Establish separate personal and professional accounts to align your professional interactions with your professional brand, and engage privately with family and friends.
Armed with a solid profile, how should you engage?
Join, follow, like: Group memberships and the pages you like communicate your interests, so be selective. Following thought leaders can help you gather information about industry trends and new opportunities.
To post or not to post: Before you share anything, make sure it aligns with your brand. If you are employed, review and comply with your company’s social media policy. Once you post, consider it permanent and searchable.
While authenticity is good, not everything should be shared. Ask yourself if the post will help you reach your target audience. Pay attention to grammar and spelling. If you’re sharing content, read the article first—don’t just rely on the headline.
After you share, review the post. If you catch an error, edit or delete it. If you have been using social media for a while, review your posting history. Google yourself to find and delete anything that doesn’t represent you well.
Contribute: Commenting on other posts is another way to get noticed, show yourself as resourceful, competent, and helpful, and encourage others to include you in their networks. You don’t have to avoid controversial topics, especially if you are an expert and can offer a perspective that shows your knowledge well, but choose your battles wisely. Before engaging, ask yourself if the subject fits with your brand. If you wouldn’t want your boss, a hiring manager, or your mom to see it, then don’t post.
Find and apply for jobs: Company pages often list open positions and offer alerts when new jobs are posted. Recruiters and hiring managers also highlight positions for their followers. When applying for jobs via your social media profile, however, exercise caution. Although it’s easy to do, it’s also difficult to know what and how data is transmitted. To avoid this, find the position on the company website and apply directly.
Thank you for your question, and I wish you the best of luck expanding your social network. If you would like to connect, you can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin. com/in/davidglennsmith and on twitter at @DavidGSmithNC.
If you have a question about career development, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will answer it in a future column.