Can’t understand why your postings on Monster or CareerBuilder are not enough to get you the job of your dreams? You probably need to include social media in your job-hunting process. Forbes reports that 92 percent of companies use social media in their hiring process, and 75 percent of hiring managers will look over your social profiles.
If you have not done so already, consider taking these steps to integrate social media into your job search.
1. Educate yourself — Do you know enough about social media to know where to start? Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the primary social media sites, but there are other sites relevant to particular fields that you may need to add. Do some online research to make sure you are comfortable with the basics at each website. You cannot effectively use social media if the jargon trips you up or you simply do not understand how a social media site works.
2. Make a plan — Decide which social media platform or platforms work the best for you, and how often you intend to engage in it. If you do not plan to use a social media site regularly, do not use it at all. An unattended page looks worse than no page.
Consider how well each social media outlet fits your needs. For example, LinkedIn is a great place to fill a profile with accomplishments and connect with those in your field, but if you are just starting out, it will take time to build the necessary connections and accomplishments. Your focus may need to be on Facebook and Twitter instead.
3. Establish/clean up profiles and make them relevant — Keep your social media profiles relevant and squeaky clean. That is easy to do if you are starting from scratch, but a pre-employment Facebook and Twitter account may need some maintenance. Collegiate accomplishments with alcoholic beverages are not going to impress a hiring manager.
Watch your privacy settings, and if you are going to make your Facebook profile public, make sure the content is suitable for public consumption. Separate lists for personal and professional friends if possible.
4. Network — In many cases, it is still as much about who you know as what you know. LinkedIn is an excellent way to maintain a network of industry contacts, or build one if you do not have one to start. It is also a great resource to outline other accomplishments and establish networks with other areas of common interest.
5. Follow companies/join groups — Follow companies in which you are interested. That keeps you up-to-date on company events and is a good way to find out about potential jobs. Some companies even have specific Twitter accounts for hiring issues.
Meanwhile, stay up with your field by joining industry groups. Engage in chats periodically to show people your interests, skills, and viewpoints whenever appropriate.
6. Perform company recon — Companies will look at your social media accounts to draw conclusions about whether or not to hire you, so why not research companies in kind? You can get a lot of useful information from Facebook and LinkedIn on everything from the position you are targeting to the hiring manager’s preferences.
The occasional personal information you come across may be invaluable, but be careful how you use it. Understanding how to tailor a cover letter and prepare for questions is one thing; leaving the impression that you may be a stalker is quite another. Do not be overbearing in any aspect of social media use.
With clever use of social media, you can establish excellent connections and improved visibility, increasing your chances of being hired. With poor use, you can actually harm your chances. Do not let fear of social media hold you back, but do take the time to understand how social media can work best for you. Soon enough you will be catching attention with your accomplishments and thoughtful posts — and a job is likely to follow.