As a job seeker, social media can be a very powerful method to help you find a job. From networking to researching potential employers, there are a ton of smart ways to use social media in your job search.
Why Use Social Media in Your Job Search?
Even if you aren’t an avid social media user, you should consider having a social media profile or two when you’re searching for a job. If nothing else, it can help demonstrate to potential employers that you have some technological skills and understand internet and social media trends. However, there are other advantages to using social media for a job search:
- Helps you build your personal brand
- Lets you network and connect in ways you can’t in person
- Makes you “more visible” to hiring managers and recruiters that mine social media for prospective candidates—even when you aren’t actively searching for a job
- Gives you a chance to interact with companies you want to work for
If that’s not enough to convince you that you should incorporate social media in your job search, consider this: in 2017, 87% of recruiters reported using LinkedIn to source candidates, and 55% reported using Facebook.
If you’re not on social media, you might be missing out on job opportunities!
How to Create Social Media Profiles for Your Job Search
Of course, setting up a LinkedIn profile, filling it in, and never touching it again isn’t going to get you a job. You have to be active on social media, too. And though active can mean sharing amusing memes, you have to make sure you’re presenting a positive and professional image.
Clean Up Your Existing Accounts
Sure, social media can be light hearted, but it’s also important to portray yourself in the most positive (and professional) light possible. Use your social media profiles to create a convincing image of you as a very likable—and hireable—employee.
Review your existing social media accounts with a fine-toothed comb to make sure they are employer-appropriate. Delete or hide any old posts or photos that are questionable. Or go one step further and create separate profiles that represent your professional interests. These profiles should have a professional photo of you and your posts should only be about your career or other information that relates to your industry.
As you proceed, consider everything you add to these accounts with an employer’s perspective in mind. The more thoughtful, knowledgeable, interesting, and above-board your internet image is, the better.
According to a 2018 survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen applicants. And approximately 43% use social media to check on current employees! So, after you’ve done some clean-up or created new profiles, Google yourself and see what comes up.
Enter your name and any versions of it, including nicknames and common misspellings of your name.
If you find anything erroneous or egregious, try to fix the issue before a potential employer spots it. That way, you’ll hopefully have something professional and relevant pop up as soon as an employer Googles your name.
How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search
With your profiles polished and ready to go, it’s time to start using them to connect with a new job. However, you have to use social media carefully and professionally to make a great impression.
Check out these tips to help you use social media for job searching like a pro.
Acknowledge Significant Wins
Once you have your professional social media profiles in place, it’s time to let yourself (and your skills) shine! Just finished getting a new certification? Add it to your LinkedIn profile and consider sharing it on Twitter! Did you finish a pet project that relates to your career field? Instagram those pics and post them online. Use social media to look for a job, connect with companies, and to highlight those special skills, education, and experience that recruiters and hiring managers are looking for.
Keep It Quiet
Though there is some merit to “bragging” about your accomplishments, you don’t want to broadcast to everyone that you’re searching for a job—especially your current employer.
Double then triple check your privacy settings and make sure you aren’t letting your current employer know you’re “actively seeking” a new position. Also, consider your social media connections with current coworkers.
Work on Your Website
Studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of hiring managers do some online digging on potential job candidates before they even call them in for an interview. Depending on what type of career you have, it might make sense to have a website that works as a portfolio for you.
Besides showcasing some of your work, you can also post recommendations, awards, achievements, and accolades that you’ve received—all in one neat and tidy space.
If a personal portfolio website seems like too much work or is perhaps a bit much for your field, add some work samples to your LinkedIn profile instead. It’s not as customizable as a personal website, but it does the trick.
Do Some Homework
Of course, you can go straight to a company’s website to get a sense of who they are and what they do. But also check out their social media profiles and any other places you might find them on the web. Read their blogs, posts, and tweets to get a sense of the tone in which they are written, and their focus.
You can learn a lot about a company from their social media posts—much more so than with a static web page. Keeping up with the company on social media can also come in handy should you be called in for a job interview, since you’ll have more current knowledge that you can reference.
Leveraging social media as a networking tool is a great way to stay connected to people who can help you out, boost the profile of people in your network, and create meaningful connections in a virtual environment.
Keep in mind, though, that social media networking should not be about gathering as many connections as possible. When you network on social media, don’t forget to help out your network.
Make sure you like and share posts that others have written or shared. Comment and congratulate them on their accomplishments. And offer help and advice when you can. What comes around often goes around, so make sure you aren’t only networking to get a new job.
While you’re at it, a great way to expand your social media network is to join groups. For example, say you’re interested in finding a remote job. Join some Facebook or LinkedIn groups that focus on finding and landing a remote job (like FlexJobs’ LinkedIn group!).
Level Up Your Knowledge
You can also use your social media profiles to increase your industry knowledge. While you can certainly learn something new from any social media channel, some, like Twitter, can be an amazing source of up-to-the-minute news and information for any industry you can think of. Simply search for terms that relate to you (your industry, job titles, etc.) and see what comes up. Follow people who regularly comment on your profession, and visit frequently to see the latest news.
How to Use Different Social Media Platforms in Your Job Search
Those are the basics of using social media for a job search. But how do you use each platform?
Most everyone recognizes that having a LinkedIn profile is an important part of job search preparation, but are you using all of LinkedIn’s tools to your best advantage?
One often overlooked opportunity to demonstrate your expertise on LinkedIn is the chance to post status updates to your profile. It’s easy to do; LinkedIn offers you the option each time you sign in. What should you put in your status update? Include news and information that shows you know what’s going on in your industry and commentary on topics to prove you’re up to date on the most current trends in your field.
Don’t miss the chance to “tag” people in your status update if you are passing along information they originally shared. You can also tag companies to let them know you are mentioning them. All you need to do is include the person’s or company’s name with the @ symbol in your update (for example, @JaneDoe), and LinkedIn alerts them of the mention.
Since most people prefer to consider Facebook a “personal” network, it’s a challenge to make the most of the fact that many people use it to find professional candidates. The solution? Create public status updates.
You can reap the benefits of making specific status updates public with a few clicks. Follow the link on the top of your Facebook page to check your privacy settings. Once there, click on the icon that says “Followers” on the left side of the screen. Then, under Follower Settings, check the box that says, “turn on follow.” This will give you an option to create public updates and for people to “follow” your public updates.
Once you set this up, each time you post on Facebook, you’ll have the option to allow the post to be “public.” Create public posts similar to what you may share on LinkedIn or any network: include news and information related to your field and commentary on what’s new in your industry. When you do, you’ll add another searchable series of posts to your digital footprint and make it more likely that people will find you when they search for someone with your skills.
Like LinkedIn and Facebook, Twitter offers a great resource to demonstrate your expertise. When you use it to post updates and connect with others online via using their Twitter handles in your posts, you can expand your network and make sure people know about your expertise. One thing you may not have considered: you can learn what’s new in your field by following Twitter handles from your professional organizations and conferences.
Even if you can’t personally attend an organization’s professional event, it’s possible attendees will be there to “live tweet” what goes on at the conference. Look online to see if there is a hashtag (a word that includes a # sign) to help designate tweets from the conference. Follow that hashtag on Twitter and reap the benefits of what your colleagues share.
You can use Instagram as part of your job search, too. Start by creating a professional profile then post professional things to it. Create a story talking about a big win you just had or post pictures of a project you completed.
Search popular hashtags to connect with companies and jobs. Try:
Don’t limit your hashtag search to general ones, though. Try hashtags specific for your field. For example, if you’re a virtual assistant, search for:
You never know what posts you’ll find, or what jobs you’ll uncover!
Social Media Job Search Mistakes to Avoid
We know you know, but it has to be said anyway—there are social media mistakes you want to avoid making during your job search (and any time!).
It Doesn’t Add Up
While your social media profiles should not be a carbon copy of your resume, they shouldn’t be so different that they raise red flags.
For example, if your LinkedIn profile mentions that you’re an expert audit accountant, but your posts talk about your interior design skills, a recruiter might think you’re overstating your qualifications.
It’s fine to rephrase things across social media profiles (one says expert audit accountant, another says experienced and skilled CPA), but make sure you’re being consistent (and honest).
Being active is an important part of social media. If your profiles never do anything—engage with a company, like a post, share helpful info—a recruiter may be underwhelmed by your profile. While that may not necessarily hurt your chances of getting a job, it probably won’t help either, especially if your competition is active.
Being active on social media is one thing. Being overactive, though, is entirely another, and one that you should avoid.
Putting aside the concept of what you post (nothing offensive, nothing mean, nothing that lets your boss know you’re job hunting), it is possible to annoy people by posting and engaging too much.
Do you retweet the same type of post every day? Are you liking every single post that a company makes? Are you bugging hiring managers?
Liking and sharing are important, but not something you need to do constantly. Set aside some time each week to go through your social media, then selectively like and repost things that are professionally relevant to you and your job search.
Constant Profile Adjustments
As an ardent job seeker, you want to put your best foot forward, both in a real-life job interview and online. But make sure that every single profile update doesn’t get broadcasted to your network.
Asking Everyone for a Recommendation
You know how you feel when you get those generic LinkedIn emails from former coworkers asking you to give them a recommendation?
Now imagine you’re the one churning out those requests. While it’s always a good idea to have referrals that attest to your stellar work ethic and superior work performance, you don’t need to have dozens of recommendations to improve your online presence. If they happen organically, that’s great news! But just be mindful that you’re not overdoing it.
Successfully Using Social Media in Your Job Search
As you can see, social media is more than cat memes and travel photos. Using social media to find a job is a savvy move, one that could help land your next opportunity.
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