According to a 2015 study from the international Society for Human Resource Management, 65 per cent of companies used some sort of social media to hire talent. 87 per cent of hiring managers surveyed said it was important for candidates to have a LinkedIn profile, with 63 per cent and 56 per cent indicating Facebook and Twitter profiles were important as well. Leveraging social media in your job search could mean finding a position with one of the many companies who place an importance on candidates’ online presence, so it’s time to start thinking of your social media profiles as an extension of your C.V. and a supplement to traditional job search methods.
After reading the statistics from the Society for Human Resource Management study, you might be tempted to create a bunch of different profiles or to open existing ones up to public visibility. However, it’s important to maintain boundaries between your personal and professional image online. Our recent article about The Role of Social Media in your Professional Life suggests deciding between an "open," "audience focussed," or "content focussed" strategy and applying it across platforms. CIO.com suggests an alternative: keep your Facebook private, have separate Twitter accounts for personal and professional purposes, and keep your LinkedIn presence professional at all times. Choose the option that resonates most with you and keep in mind that having more social media accounts does not necessarily make a better strategy. You may want to choose one or two platforms to use for professional purposes and create well-crafted profiles that you can update often.
Share selectively on Facebook
While you don’t want all the details of your personal life available to recruiters and hiring managers, you can make certain parts of your Facebook profile publicly available. Choose an appropriate photo for your main profile image, and make your employment and educational info public while keeping your photos, posts, and “likes” private. The Muse points out that you can make some status updates public - for instance, if you are posting about professional milestones, you can go ahead and set those updates to public.
Optimise your Twitter profile
Your professional Twitter account is a great way to connect with recruiters, hiring managers, and industry leaders. The Guardian advises putting your job pitch and a link to an online C.V. in your Twitter bio to make it easy for potential employers to find you. Once you’ve created your account and followed thought leaders in your industry, it’s important to tweet regularly so that hiring managers know you understand how the medium works. According to The Muse, Twitter is a place for sharing information about your field of work and starting conversations about your industry rather than focussing on your own accomplishments. While you certainly want to establish yourself as a thought leader by sharing your opinions and insights, be sure to retweet and reply to industry leaders every so often. As an added bonus, this is a great way to gain potential followers since Twitter will send a notification to whoever you retweet or reply to. As a result, they may look at your profile and decide to follow you if they see other compelling content.
Make a good first impression with LinkedIn
Earlier this year, LinkedIn analysed profile summaries of users in the UK and compiled a list of “buzzwords,” which are used so often they tend to lose all meaning. Using words like “motivated,” “creative,” and “driven” may signal to potential employers that you’re simply saying whatever it takes to get hired. The Telegraph suggests showing that you possess these qualities rather than simply listing them on your profile. Add examples of your work under the “Projects” section of your profile to show off your creativity, and you won’t need to claim it as one of your selling points. You do, however, want to use some keywords that companies might type in when they’re searching for candidates on LinkedIn. These will generally be industry-specific terms and words relating to job functions (for example, “leader” is one of those dreaded buzzwords, but “project lead” or “manager” relate directly to job titles and functions).
While LinkedIn is generally reserved for connecting with people you know or have worked with, you can occasionally send requests to connect with someone in the industry, or who works at a company where you would like to apply for a job. Just make sure to send a personalised message rather than using the generic template, and don’t connect with a hiring manager you are currently interviewing with. You could come off as "pushy and over-confident,” according to The Muse, since connecting over LinkedIn before a decision has been made could imply that you are certain you’ll be hired.
Managing multiple social media accounts
Since social networks tend to attract different demographics, avoid the temptation to save time by linking up all of your accounts and posting the same updates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other platform you may be using. The Guardian points out that each network should showcase a different part of your personality, so it really doesn’t make sense to post uniformly across platforms. Fast Company explains that recruiters will look at LinkedIn for an assessment of your skills, and Facebook for a sense of your personality - if you post to LinkedIn about personal matters, it could end up overshadowing your professional accomplishments. You may, however, want to bring all of your accounts together on a personal website or professional landing page, which you can link to in your email signature and on your C.V. in order to encourage potential employers to check out your (carefully crafted) profiles.
At the same time, you do want to make sure that none of the information in your profile contradicts what you have posted elsewhere. Entrepreneur cites inconsistencies across social media platforms as a major reason for being rejected from a job. Be sure to use your real name if you want employers to be able to find you, and make sure your employment information is up-to-date so others can get an accurate sense of your experience and accomplishments. You’ll also want a recent, professional-looking image which can be used across profiles so hiring managers can be sure they’re looking at profiles created by the same person. you might even consider hiring a professional photographer to take your headshot and ensure you’re looking your best.
Showcase your work and industry knowledge
Once you’ve built content-rich profiles, you’ll want to regularly post meaningful content which highlights your work and shows how knowledgeable you are about topics important to the industry. Fast Company suggests joining and participating in groups on Facebook and LinkedIn in order to establish relationships which could lead to referrals or even job offers. You can also think outside of traditional platforms, using sites like SlideShare.net to upload presentations on your projects, or on topics you’re particularly knowledgeable about.
Let people know you’re looking
If your Facebook connections are limited to friends and family, you can let them know you’re looking through a status update, or utilise Facebook’s graph search to see if any of your friends work at a company you’re applying to. Those who don’t need to be confidential about their job search can also update their LinkedIn headlines to indicate they are seeking new opportunities, and follow dedicated Twitter accounts for companies that are hiring. Even if a company isn’t currently hiring, you can start engaging with them on social media now, so you’re on their radar for future opportunities. And remember, just as hiring managers can use social media as a way of evaluating your candidacy, you can also learn more about company culture by checking out their social media presence and connecting with previous and current employees.
Social media can be an incredibly useful tool in your job search, as it allows potential employers to learn about you in ways that a paper C.V. couldn’t adequately convey. Using social media wisely to build a personal brand and establish yourself among industry leaders could help you land your next position.