Most of us use some form of social media every day. And if you’re anything like me, you’re on all the time. :) But how many of us are utilizing the power of these social media platforms to advance our careers?
While many job hunting tips talk about cleaning up social media profiles, making accounts private, or using a false name, often times our social media presence can work for us. In fact, Reppler – a social media monitoring service – conducted a survey of hiring professionals, and found that nearly 70 per cent of employers would hire a candidate because of what they saw about them on a social networking site.
Social media has helped me countless times before. My Moneyville/Toronto Star editor found me through my blog. I got my Canadian Living job through contacts via Twitter. I found and hired both my real estate agent and my blog web designer from Twitter. Now, I’m working for my real estate agent as his Marketing Manager. A few months ago, I inquired about a freelance job posting on Craigslist. The employer contacted me about 20 minutes after I submitted my resume, to tell me that he already follows me on Twitter, and felt like he already knows me and what I am capable of. Having an active Twitter account automatically gave me an advantage over any other candidate, because of the connection I had already made with that employer online.
Having a social media presence can positively impact your face-to-face networking activities, and can also help you tap into the hidden job marketing of positions that are not advertised. Maybe I go a bit overboard, because I don’t just have to standard Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. I also have Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads, FourSquare, Vimeo, and Formspring. :) But I use them because I like them, and I know that if I’m not on those websites, some other person is – and they could one day be going for the job that I want!
Here are a few tips I’ve found to using social media effectively:
Understand how you are perceived
Creating a social media presence takes time. It is not an overnight employment fix. But, if you utilize it correctly, it can be a huge benefit to your job search in the future, and to your credibility as a professional.
In order to make sure you are conveying the right message about yourself to other people online, consider using a social media monitoring website like Reppler. It’s a completely free service that scans through the biggest social media networks – like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube – and comes up with an Image Score, shows you any inappropriate content, and advises you of any privacy or security risks in your profiles.
Here are a couple of screen shots I took of my profile to show you how effective Reppler is in analyzing how you are perceived online.
Build your connections
Gone are the days where you have to show up at every face-to-face networking event in order to get business cards and build your professional network. This is arguably one of the biggest benefits of social media, so take advantage of how easy it is to make connections!
There are a few ways to grow your network online: friend or follow those with common interest, participates in Twitter chats, engage in discussion on Facebook pages, and send personalized messages to people you would like to connect with on LinkedIn.
Position yourself as an influencer
As a job seeker, marketing yourself on social media is about crafting your personal brand. And a great way to impress potential employers is to have your own blog about the industry that you are most interested in. Not only will you be able to establish yourself as an influencer and expert in your field, but good content will always get shared and spread throughout social media networks.
I am most interested in personal finance, so that’s what I write about. And within personal finance, my niche is the 20-something crowd. I don’t think this website will ever become one of those broad all-encompassing sites that talk about everything, and I like it that way. When people think of me and my blog, I want them to think about frugal living, how to get out of debt, and growing up. Those are the categories I think I’m most influential in.
Social media isn’t about pushing out messages and waiting to attract followers and conversation. It’s about pursuing and networking with people – especially those who are more influential than you. As a job seeker, it’s not very often that you get the opportunity to directly communicate with high-ranking executives, CEOs, and industry influencers. Use this to your advantage to connect and engage with the companies and people you want to eventually work for.
You can use the Twitter search function to look for jobs using industry hashtags, or recruiters posting job ads. You can also use LinkedIn or Facebook to look for jobs through company pages. And don’t underestimate the power of your own network. Let people know that you’re looking for work. Word spreads around quickly – and someone might think you’d be the perfect fit for a position with their company.
Take your networking offline
One of the main functions of social media is to build your connections. But you have to remember to take your networking offline and meet face-to-face. That’s where the real magic happens. Attend Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter meet-ups. Check out industry-related conferences, or just invite someone out for coffee to chat and pick their brain. One of the best things about having a blog, and being on social media is getting to meet people in person. :)