I read this post yesterday that included an infographic from Online Colleges discussing some of the ways in which you can use social media to find your next job or internship. It even included five tips to help you “stand out from the crowd.” Unfortunately, rather than highlighting some of ways in which people have used Pinterest to land their next job or created a resume using a QR code, or creating an interactive video resume, they instead recommend the exact opposite. Recommendations like “be your most professional you,” and “treat your profile like your resume,” make you blend in with, not stand apart from, the crowd.
The infographic is right about one thing though – social media does give you an opportunity to stand apart from the crowd. But you’re not going to do that by treating your profile like your resume, being professional, and keeping your accounts updated. Stop looking at social media from a place of fear (“oh my god, my Facebook profile has pictures of me drinking a beer!!! Ahhhhhhhhh!”) and start looking at it from a place of opportunity (“other applicants may have more experience, but how many can actually showcase their entire philosophy and beliefs to the interviewer before ever actually stepping foot in the interview room?”).
Social media opens up all kinds of doors for today’s job-seekers –
- You don’t have to rely on the formulaic resume and cover letter
- You no longer have to post your resume and pray that someone sees it
- You don’t ever have to talk to that “to whom it may concern” guy again
- The company’s [email protected] email isn’t your only point of entry
So if you’re truly interested in using social media open these doors and land that next job or internship, try these seven tactics:
- Be present. If you send someone your resume, one of the first things they’re going to do is Google you. Be aware of what they will find. Yes, like most people will tell you, having that local police blotter article about your DUI five years ago show up on the first page is bad, but so is not having ANYTHING show up. If you’re allegedly a PR professional, and I can’t find a single thing about you beyond your high school team softball photo, your resume better be damn impressive because that’s all you’re giving me to go on.
- Make sure your online presence is reflective of the type of job you want. Are you trying to be an accountant? A designer? A PR specialist? A management consultant? As you might imagine, these positions require very different skills and personalities. I would expect that the online profile of someone trying to get hired by an advertising agency to be VERY different from the profile of someone trying to get hired by a government consulting firm. Blanket statements like “be your most professional you” are meaningless because they mean such different things to different people. “Professional” to a government consultant is probably going to come across as dry and boring to me.
- Be You. The best personal brand is the one that best reflects who you actually are, not some contrived image that you want people to think you are. It’s going to be much better for the both of us if we’re open and honest about who we are and what we’re looking for. If I bring you in for an interview based in large part on your super creative Pinterest-based resume, I’m going to expect a super creative person in the interview, not to hear that you hired someone to create that resume for you and you don’t actually know how to do that.
- Talk about what you do and who you are. The easiest and most effective thing you can do. Are you a PR specialist? Then start a blog and talk about your approach to public relations. Get on Twitter and share your thoughts on the latest PR crisis. Share links to PR articles you’re reading on Facebook. This isn’t rocket science. If you’re a graphic designer, talk about the latest trends in graphic design. Share your opinion on who’s doing it right. Don’t tell me that you do something, show me your thoughts and beliefs and what sets you apart from the hundreds of other people who claim to do that as well.
- Talk with people in the industry you’re trying to get into. Want a job in government public affairs? Get on GovLoop and start commenting on people’s blogs. Want a job in public relations? Participate in the PRSA LinkedIn group. Want a job in sports? Get the #sportsprchat on your calendar. Be a part of the conversation.
- Talk to the person/organization you’re trying to work for. The old advice was to research the company that you’re applying to so that you know what work they do, who their clients are, etc. That advice still applies, but that’s literally the bare minimum you can do. Be prepared to do more than some simple secondary research and instead look to see who from that company is on Twitter and start following them. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Comment on their blogs. And for the love of God, talk with them about something OTHER than the fact that you want a job. You wouldn’t walk up to them in real life and hand them your resume before even introducing yourself would you? Then don’t do it online either. Tell them how much you liked their last blog post. Answer a question they asked on Twitter. Give them your thoughts on that last link they shared on LinkedIn – just do something other than say “hey are you guys hiring? Check out my resume!”
- Start early. I don’t want to see that you started your Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels all on the same day two weeks ago and now you’re applying for a job with me. Start building up your online presence before you start looking for a job. I don’t want to hire someone who is just going through the motions – I want to hire someone who understands that their use of social media is about a hell of a lot more than just finding a job. It’s about becoming a better professional, demonstrating that you’re a lifelong learner, and explaining who you are rather than just what you did.
What other tactics would you add? How have you used social media to get a job or internship?
All real good points. I think some folks have a problem with using social media for their job search because they may not be real comfortable with the technology. With that said you need to look at a few channels and then build your brand within there. You are right that you can’t join all of the channels at once, put up a profile and then think that folks are going to flock to you. You need to build depth and be sure that you are building it correctly. What do I mean about building it correctly? Simple things: picture, well thought out descriptions and meaningful connections. Connections are good, but are you being a spammer rather than a connector? Are you truly connecting – saying how you want to connect and then thanking someone for the connection – that is extending your online brand. Participating in conversations – we all say we are “crazy busy” and while technology is supposed to free us it actually can bind us. We need to take those connections and participate in conversations to build those relationships that will fulfill us professionally and personally. And possibly lead to a job.
Marketing Yourself for Your Next Opportunity
We are also not all going to be good at all social media and have to accept that fact. There are some tools I love and others that I can’t see to wrap my head around. I don’t think I am the only one. I do try to keep as many channels of communication open but there are some I am going to flourish with more than others. And in the blush of social media some of the tried and true ways of connecting seem to get overlooked such as blogs, commenting on blogs and user groups. All of these are very specific to key topics which build depth into your online brand and expertise.
I actually interviewed Michael Stelzner, Social Media Examiner on how to incorporate social media into your job search. Here is the interview:
Marketing Advice from Social Media Examiner
A recent poll in one of the LinkedIn Executive groups asked how many folks actually found a job using LinkedIn. No one could really point actually to a job that they had received because of leveraging LinkedIn. My challenge with this is that people may be using a tool but may not be using the tool to its best devices. From the inquires and practices I see on many social media, I am surprised if anyone gets a job through them because they are spamming rather than connecting. Or their profiles are more like the National Enquirer than the Wall Street Journal.
While social media is being looked at as the next silver bullet, both job seekers and employers are not leveraging the tool correctly. Both sides of the equations are using apps or tools to ease the administration of the social media tool – be it Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook – rather than building depth to their brands and actually making connections.
I’ve actively reached out to people on social who have posted jobs on social and it usually turns out to be a strong lead. People who aren’t using social in their job search are definitely missing out.
Social media is a good pre-screening tool for HR specialists. I think social media allows you create a professional brand for yourself. Self-branding can be displayed with a blog, YouTube channel, Twitter account, etc.
Good advice, Steve. Most of the job-hunting advice I have seen up till now has been the same old sad, tired, rehashed stuff that’s been thrown out for years. But in the 21st century things have changed.
Thanks everyone – glad to see others who believe social media can and should be beneficial to one’s job search too.
@Kathleen – re: your comment that no one ever found a job through LinkedIn, I would have followed that question up with, “Have you ever found a job through the phone?” While I’ve gotten many job offers/solicitations via LinkedIn, my most promising leads were always based in relationships – LinkedIn was just the tool we happened to use. I wasn’t connecting with random people there and asking for a job. I was re-connecting with people who I had connected with there before; I was searching for and connecting with old colleagues who I knew; I was introducing myself to friends of friends. LinkedIn doesn’t work like Monster.com – you can’t just post and pray. LinkedIn works more like the telephone or like a conference. Go and meet and connect with people before you need them so that when you do (when you’re doing your job search), they’re there for you.
I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your comments. As a bit of an introvert, I tend to “shy” away from the social media tool. After reading your blog, I wanted to let you know that I will be creating a twitter account. Let’s see how that goes! thanks again.
I just had one more comment (alright, actually a question). How would you suggest that I get in touch with the recruiters from jobs that I’ve met their certificate list?
Thanks Danielle – I don’t think using social media has as much to do about introverts and extraverts as much as it does about self-awareness and self-confidence. Take a look at this post that I wrote on this subject – http://steveradick.com/2011/05/13/the-two-things-you-need-to-be-successful-when-using-social-media/.
Re: your question about getting in touch with recruiters, one of the easiest things I’ve done is to just search LinkedIn for “Company X” and “recruiter” and then just scroll through until I find someone in their HR or recruiting departments in the city where the job is located. I’ll then try to connect with them and leave them a note that I just applied for position Y, and that I’d love to connect and learn more about the position.
Good luck in your job search