Social media is a big part of our lives, and that includes its influence in the job search. Expect recruiters and potential employers to mine your online profiles. Rather than presenting a wall of privacy settings, however, let social media augment your personal brand!
1. Make profiles consistent and relevant to a potential employer. If your resume and cover letter impresses a recruiter, the next step is for them to check you out on social media. That search may start with a review of your LinkedIn and Indeed, so make sure (Read: Common LinkedIn Mistakes of Veterans) that your information on those sites — resumes, work experience, awards, etc. — matches what the recruiter sees. Part of that is keeping your generic documents up to date, but also reviewing that information in your Facebook profile, too.
Speaking of Facebook (and Twitter), your profile information and posts should not be at odds with your application. Comments like “Applied to another stupid job today!” or “Nothing like playing hooky on a beautiful day” say a lot about your attitude toward work. To present a “personal brand,” you can spruce up your profile by reposing pictures of you in the military, linking to articles that are interesting and respectable and generally portraying yourself as engaged.
2. Network via LinkedIn, and Facebook or Twitter (if appropriate). LinkedIn bills itself as a networking website, and you should periodically check the “people you might know” section to add connections. Also, if you meet somebody in your search for a job — a recruiter, an HR manager or even a regular employee — seek them out on LinkedIn. Because that website is focused on jobs, friend requests there make you look engaged and professional.
And a word on LinkedIn’s feature for “endorsements:” It’s a way for your connections to lend credence to your skills, and if recruiters see that you claim to have a certain skill like, say, “Copy Editing” or “Team-Building,” and that others have endorsed those skills for you, they will value those skills more. The general etiquette is that if you make a connection, and you can endorse some skills for that person, do so. They will usually reciprocate.
Friending professional connections on Facebook is a bit trickier. If the connection “outranks” you professionally, it can come across as sycophantic. It’s more appropriate to friend connections who are your peers. And it’s always a good idea to follow company Twitter accounts if you’re interested in working for those companies; they usually post information that you can bring up in an interview or new job openings as they come available.
3. Stay active online. One of the most common mistakes veterans make is building great social media profiles and letting them sit out there on the Internet. Popular search engines (like Google) prioritize sites that update often, so if you are engaged on social media by liking posts, posting new things and making comments, it increases your profile’s likelihood of popping up in search results.
4. Behave like a resource. The point of leveraging social media in a job search is to, you know, get a job. For that reason, make sure that you come across at least a little bit as professional and helpful. Amid your banter with friends, posting of memes and funny pictures, and so on, also engage in online discussions, post or react to relevant news stories, and keep your language and humor clean.
5. Don’t ask for a job outright. Asking for a job from a social media connection or asking via social media looks desperate. It’s not appropriate, and there’s an application process for that. Instead, let your social media presence passively reveal you as an attractive candidate for traditional job applications. It’s a second-stage resource: once your resume has piqued a recruiter’s interest, your social media profiles should increase that interest.
6. Look for jobs posted on company social media (e.g. Twitter and Facebook). This has already been mentioned, but there’s an advantage to being among the first to apply for a job. Many companies post jobs for which they have an immediate need, which means that they may not have the luxury of a detailed recruiting effort. A good candidate right now (you) is more likely to get a job than the more experienced candidate that has to be poached over time from another company.
7. Have a disciplined approach to social media. Because more active profiles come up more often in searches, you want a plan to maintain activity. Maybe you visit social media sites once a day, make a few comments and share some links. Also, you should check for new jobs at least weekly. And to avoid being overwhelmed, you can even set a schedule, like checking Facebook and Twitter daily but LinkedIn and other job sites on the weekend.
Social media is a powerful ally in a job search. Keeping your accounts relevant, consistent and current will provide recruiters and potential employers a lot of reasons to like hiring you. Jumping on new job openings early will increase your likelihood of getting hired. Leverage social media well and supercharge your job search!
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