If you haven’t noticed, social media has “grown up.” It’s one of the most effective ways to get your qualifications and resume in front of as many corporate eyes as possible. In addition to helping you expand the reach of your search, social media is also cost effective, measured only by the time you invest. Social media accelerates your job search exponentially, helping you reach far more people than traditional networking.
If you think about the concepts of branding and marketing yourself, social media is the ultimate tool for building your brand. You select what you want to highlight for potential employers and you control what values are emphasized in your social media presence. Think of social media as a huge networking opportunity and your online profile doubles as your calling card and your resume! Gaining more exposure creates additional opportunities. Social media is the key to opening the door to the hidden job market.
Engaging in a quick Internet search can yield hundreds of social networks, online communities, blogs, websites, and discussion groups for job seekers. In addition to posting on job boards and working with recruiters, social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can significantly accelerate your job search. In case you aren’t convinced about the importance of social media in your job search, let’s examine a few specific benefits:
1. Use of social media sites demonstrates your knowledge, skill, and familiarity with the capabilities of this current technology.
2. Social media helps create your personal “brand.” You will become “known” to the individuals who read your profile without ever having submitted a formal resume.
3. Social media is the ultimate networking tool, putting you in touch with individuals who are in a position to make hiring decisions about jobs that may never get posted. Better yet, an interest connection might be spurred to create a job for you based on your unique qualifications.
4. Any of these sites can help you gain information about companies or industries of interest to you, making you an even more valuable candidate as you expand your knowledge and become known for your contributions.
Once you create a profile for yourself, you have to pay attention to it. You can’t expect the world to immediately come looking for you! The more active you are in social media networks, the more you establish a positive reputation for yourself. Don’t become discouraged if you don’t get immediate results. Building a professional network takes time.
You may want to avoid personal chit-chat entirely on any of your professional contact networks. It becomes all too tempting to post unflattering photos or unprofessional opinions about old bosses, especially if you don’t feel as though anyone is watching your Facebook page anyway. Make sure you are patient and professional while building up your network. When an employer decides to take action, you can be certain the hiring manager will run a Google search or review your social media pages. You don’t want an offhand comment or angry post to come back and haunt you later. Be smart and make your profiles and tweets work for you!
Most sites, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, each have different limits on the amount of information and the format in which you post. LinkedIn is designed primarily for professional contact, so you have sections for education, work experience, and your intent for setting up the profile.
Twitter has the most restrictive space limits. At 140 characters, you may not think you can say much about yourself. But if you think of your texting habits, considerable information can in fact be included in very little space. This space becomes even more valuable than the traditional resume space. Provide contact information and a few keywords that define your response to the discussion, your professional skills, or current professional trends.
Finally, there is Facebook. Most people think of Facebook as a personal site, but if you research a bit, you will see just how many businesses are using Facebook to strengthen their online presence as well. Have you been asked to “friend” a corporation? Those requests are a testament to the power of Facebook for professional use and profit. Put its power to work for you by focusing on your credentials rather than your leisure activities. Include memberships in professional associations, a professional summary, pertinent work experience, or cutting edge professional development activities.
As part of job sites, LinkedIn, and Facebook, be sure to take advantage of the Groups areas to target contacts in your industry and demonstrate expertise. Be an active participant in discussions. Support other members and build relationships. The online community can be an integral part of your network and accelerate your job search exponentially.
As noted, maintaining a social media network takes just as much effort, consideration, and attention as face-to-face networking. Once you have your profile established, take some time to explore additional features of the sites and reach out to others. Experiment with social media and watch your job search take off!
Alesia Benedict is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC)