How to use social media for your job search

By: Yasmine Shaban

The rise of social media in recent years has meant that networking is now virtually effortless. It can be an extra – and very powerful – string to your bow when searching for new job opportunities, providing valuable inroads in to companies that are of interest to you.

LinkedIn has to be the primary networking site for professionals and is an ideal platform on which to make influential contacts. LinkedIn essentially began as a site on which to publish an online CV and make contacts, but it has expanded way beyond that. You can link your profile to other social media sites and websites, join relevant industry groups where you can participate in discussions or share knowledge and expertise, follow companies of interest, and search for jobs. All of these are good tools to use during your job search - building connections with people you’ve met can potentially open the door to connecting with people you’d like to meet in companies where you’d like to work; and being active within groups will help build your professional reputation. Sharing knowledge, offering advice, being helpful all demonstrate that you can add value to a company – even re-posting a blog post that is relevant to a discussion but isn’t written by you is a positive contribution, and will show that you are actively engaged in your sector.

Twitter is also a great way to make connections - it’s one way of being in touch with an industry thought leader or a CEO with whom, under normal circumstances, you would stand no chance of having a conversation. Follow any company that is of interest to you and find ways of engaging with them - comment on interesting tweets or re-tweet them and always watch out for tweets about job opportunities so that you can be quick to respond. Making yourself more visible to potential employers by tweeting yourself – about industry events, relevant blog posts or news articles – is also a positive course of action.

Google+ is a newer platform, but still well worth getting involved. Similar to how LinkedIn works, you can create your profile, add connections to your ‘circles’ and start networking.

Depending on how confident you are at writing, setting up your own blog can be a real asset. If you can write with authority about your business sector, employers are likely to gain a really good impression of you – being passionate about your work and attracting a decent following (utilising all your social media sites) shows true initiative.

Don’t forget, social media works both ways

Just as individuals will use social media sites to make influential contacts or get closer to the company of their dreams, so employers are increasingly checking out candidates’ and prospects’ social media profiles to find out more about them. A study by a leading online job site found that 37% of employers actively used social networking sites to screen potential candidates, the vast majority of which were influenced – often negatively – by the information they discovered.

So if you’re going to be active online you need to be very aware of how others will perceive you. In any online profile you create:

  • Use a profile picture that is appropriate – no beach shots or drunken fancy dress party pics!
  • Keep all your information relevant, up to date and, most importantly, be consistent in the information you included on LinkedIn and your CV.
  • Be honest about your experience and qualifications – and don’t then fabricate them on your CV, you will be found out!
  • Keep your tone professional and don’t make negative comments about past employers.
  • Post new content whenever you can, whether it’s sharing a tweet from an industry leader or an interesting piece of news relevant to your sector – it will show that you are interested and engaged.
  • Ensure your grammar and spelling are correct, a basic but very necessary requirement.

Of course, it’s not just on professional networking sites that employers can find you. The most basic detective skills can unearth a personal Facebook page without the right level of privacy settings!, so if you have one think carefully about what you’re posting – photographs that might compromise your professional reputation, any references to drinking or drugs, or comments that might be racist or sexist, may work against you.

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