How To Use Social Media In Your Job Search

We don’t always have the luxury of making our own first impression these days – particularly not when searching for a job. Once a hiring manager receives a resume and cover letter, they’re likely to do a Google search on potential candidates to see what else they can learn. In fact, recruiting software company Jobvite found that the percentage of employers who uses social media in their recruiting process was at 94% in 2013, up from 78% in 2008.

Social media has also become a fantastic tool for job seekers to make connections and discover opportunities. Sites like LinkedIn, and specialized industry job boards attached to networking sites (like GovLoop!) have made it easier for job seekers to find – and apply to – new opportunities throughout the world.

What sites should you be on?

It seems like a new social media site is popping up every day! But don’t worry, you don’t need to be on them all.

The ones you’ll find useful depends on your industry and role. As a writer I find Twitter and LinkedIn to be beneficial, but my husband, who works in sales in the cycling industry, uses Instagram and Facebook to great effect.

If you’re in a field like marketing or sales it can help to be on more networks in order to demonstrate your grasp of communication in a digital age. But even if your job doesn’t require you to be savvy with social media, you should be on LinkedIn. Beef up your LinkedIn profile, join a few groups, and start connecting and interacting with your network there.

Show your personality – but keep it professional

Employers have started using candidates’ social media presences to judge how professionally candidates present themselves, whether or not they’d be a good fit for the company culture, and to learn more about their qualifications. During these fact-finding social media excursions, employers are also looking for reasons to weed out the field – things like inappropriate photos, evidence of drinking, or discriminatory comments.

Keep that in mind when you’re creating your online persona. It should be a reflection of your professional self. Use your own name and choose a friendly, reasonably professional photo to represent you across your platforms.

Unless the job you’re looking for is “movie critic”, try to keep your updates positive. Complaining constantly about your old employer, your job search, the people that you just interviewed with, and the barista at the coffee shop will all be negative marks if a potential employer comes across them.

Think about how you want other people to be introduced to you, then write each social media update assuming that it may be the first thing a potential new boss sees.

Don’t just count connections, make connections.

Having 500+ connections on LinkedIn or 10,000 followers on Twitter may look impressive, but if you’re not really connecting with those people then what’s the point?

Respond to and interact with your social media connections, and nurture the new connections you build along the way. Send personalized messages when connecting with a colleague on LinkedIn, or when someone new follows you on Twitter. Instead of just “liking” someone’s post about a promotion, take the time to shoot them an email and reconnect.

If someone sends you a connection request, invite them out to coffee or to have a Skype chat in order to learn more about them. Social media can be shallow if you like – or you can use it to deepen and grow your network. The choice is yours.

Get industry-specific

Social media can be a great tool to get inside information on organizations you’re interested in working for, as well as opportunities in your industry.

Obviously, getting active on GovLoop can be a great way to virtually meet people and advance your government career, but there are tons of other networks out there dedicated to specific industries. If you’re a writer, try Medium. If you’re a developer, GitHub is a great place to showcase your work. And no matter how narrow your niche, you can probably find a group on LinkedIn.

Along with connecting with your peers on social media, you should also be following companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn to be notified when they’re hiring, and on sites like Facebook and Twitter to be the first to hear their news.

Have you ever gotten a job through social media? Tell us in the comments.

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Marie Koko

Hi – thanks for the article, I shared it on my LinkedIn group. One question, you mentioned this: “If you’re a writer, try Medium. If you’re a developer, GitHub is a great place to showcase your work.” Is there any good way to find more subject area groups like these if you are an “outsider?” As a career counselor, it would be very helpful to be able to direct students straight to these resources and not just rely on LI and Twitter and FB.