How to Use Social Media for Your Job Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
How many hours do you spend on social media every day? If you are like most people, you probably spend more than two hours on social media every day. Estimates show that in 2018, the average person spent 144 minutes per day on social media.
Two hours per day is a lot of time, and if you are spending all this time simply checking out what people are having for lunch, laughing at funny cat videos, and stalking your exes, then you are doing it wrong.
With more than 40% of the world’s population already using social media today, there are far more productive things you can do on social media than watching silly cat videos and checking out what celebrities are up to.
You can use social media to follow news from all over the world, learn new skills, build or promote your business, make money, or even land yourself a great job.
Today, I want us to talk about the last item on the list – using social media to land yourself a great job.
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA IS CRUCIAL FOR YOUR JOB SEARCH
Social media has become an important of the job search and recruitment process today.
Whenever you send a job application, employers will probably check you out on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to get a more accurate picture of who you are as a person, outside the impression of yourself portrayed through your resume, cover letter, or a job interview.
According to a 2018 survey by CareerBuilder, which interviewed over 1000 human resource professionals and hiring managers across multiple industries and company sizes, 70% of employers use social media platforms to learn more about job candidates, and 7% of employers who don’t do it are planning to start.
According to the survey, employers do this for a variety of reasons. 65% of employers research job candidates on social media because they want to find out if the candidate carries themselves professionally on social media.
51% of employers do it because they want to find out if the applicant is a good fit for the company. Others do it because they want to learn more about the candidate’s qualifications, and to determine if the applicant is well-rounded.
Whatever the employers find out after checking out a candidate on social media has a lot of impact on the candidate’s likelihood of being hired.
According to the same survey by CareerBuilder, 57% of employers have failed to hire candidates because of content they found on the candidate’s social media profiles.
Surprisingly, some employers actually check out a candidate’s social media profiles to find reasons why they should not hire the candidate.
Aside from helping you present yourself as a professional who is a good fit for the company you are interested in working for, social media is also a great way of keeping tabs on the companies you are interested in working for.
Today, a lot of companies advertise open positions on their social media pages.
Following your favorite companies on social media is a great way learning about open positions immediately they are available.
Social platforms also allow you to connect with current and former employees of these companies and learn what it is like to work for the company beforehand.
If you have not been doing it previously, this is more than enough reason why you should make social media part of your job search strategy.
Question is, how do you do it?
If you want social media to help you land that job you have always wanted, you need to have a plan in place. In this article, I am going to give you the step by step guide on how to use social media for your job search.
Let’s dive in.
STEP 1: CLEAN UP YOUR SOCIALS AND UPDATE YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS
We have already seen that some employers will check out your social media profiles with the aim of finding a reason not to hire you.
And to be honest, that photo of you downing a bottle of gin or the video of you twerking at some crazy party is unlikely to increase your chances of getting hired.
According to the CareerBuilder research, some of the reasons why employers have failed to hire candidates after checking out their social media profiles include finding inappropriate or provocative information, photos, and videos, posts about the candidate’s use of alcohol and other drugs, discriminatory comments, evidence or links to criminal behavior, evidence of poor communication skills, lying about qualifications, badmouthing previous colleagues or employers, using an unprofessional screen name or profile photo, or sharing confidential information about companies they have worked for previously.
Therefore, you need to make sure that any employer searching for you online does not come across anything that might give them a reason not to hire you. There are a number of ways to do this.
Your first option is to go through your social media profiles and clean out anything that might cause a potential employer to reconsider hiring you.
A good way to know if you have any inappropriate content on your social media profiles is to open an incognito window on your browser and google your name.
Using an incognito window prevents your browsing history from affecting the search results, and allows you to view yourself the same way an employer searching for your name would see it.
Do the same and search for your name on various social media platforms to see what comes up.
Go through the results, and if you find anything that would make a potential employer rethink hiring you, login to your accounts and delete this content.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to delete some posts that show the “fun” side of you, but at the same time don’t want these posts to decrease your chances of getting hired, you should tweak your privacy settings so that your posts are only visible to you and your friends.
This way, any prospective employer searching for you on social media will only be able to see your name, profile picture and cover photo (ensure that these present you in good light).
For this method to be effective, you also need to be very careful about who you allow to friend you on social media.
Another way to keep your social media profiles looking professional without giving up the fun aspects of social media (sharing your personal views on controversial topics such as politics and religion and sharing the fun bits of your life with friends) is to create two versions of your social media accounts.
For instance, you can have two Facebook accounts. One should be professional in nature, with your official names and linked to the email you use for professional purposes.
This is the profile that prospective employers will see when they search for you online, and should present you in a positive and professional way.
The second Facebook profile should have a different version of your name that is only known by your friends and should be linked to an email address you use for unofficial engagements.
Set up strict privacy settings on this account and only use it to connect with your close friends.
STEP 2: PRESENT YOURSELF AS THE CANDIDATE EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR
Having mentioned that some of the things you post on your social media profiles can reduce your chances of getting hired, some job seekers might be tempted to go on a complete social media blackout, either deleting their profiles or not posting anything.
After all, if employers cannot find you on social media, they won’t find anything inappropriate that might make them reconsider hiring you, right?
Wrong! Having no online footprint may also limit your chances of getting hired.
Actually, 57% of employers have reported that they are less likely to invite candidates to job interviews if they cannot find any trace of the candidate on online platforms.
Therefore, instead of completely censoring yourself on social media, you should remain active, but all your social media activity should be geared towards positioning yourself as the kind of candidate your favorite employers would like to have working for them.
The first thing you need to do is to ensure that you have a professional looking profile picture.
Because 41% of employers will judge you even before inviting you to a job interview, based on nothing other than your online photo.
The CareerBuilder survey reports that some of the things on a candidate’s social media profiles that might improve their chances of getting hired include having background information on your social media that supports your professional qualifications, showing your creativity, having a social media profile that looks professional, having a wide range of interests, having an awesome personality, evidence of great communication skills, having received professional awards and accolades, positive references from your friends and followers, having a huge social media following, and having interacted with the hiring company on social media.
There are a number of things you can do to portray yourself as a professional that any company would be glad to have work for them.
These include including your profession as part of your bio, adding details such as your education and work experience, adding a link to your resume on your social media bio, and listing some of your professional interests.
This is especially important on LinkedIn, which is focused towards professional networking. You can also provide a short description of your career ambitions on your LinkedIn profile.
STEP 3: ENGAGE IN PROFESSIONAL CONVERSATIONS
Another way of showcasing yourself as a candidate companies would want working for them is to engage in professional conversations on social media.
Remember, things like your activity on public groups are can be viewed by the general public, and you can bet that a prospective employer will look at everything about you that they can find.
By engaging in professional conversations, prospective employers will see that you are someone with lots of interest in your industry.
This also provides you with an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and skills in your industry, something that can increase your chances of getting hired.
The easiest way to do this is to regularly post content that is related to your field of expertise and try to spur conversations with other professionals within your field.
If you come across any interesting articles about your industry, share them on your page. Any prospective employer that lands on your page will definitely be impressed by this.
Another way of to get involved in professional conversations is to join groups that are centered on your industry and start contributing to the various debates on these groups.
The aim here is to present yourself as an expert within your industry. With this approach, as more people within these groups start appreciating your deep knowledge, you might even get to a point where prospective employers approach you even when you have not applied to any job openings.
To keep an eye on debates that you can join and contribute to, you can use a tool like Google Alerts to notify you whenever there are any debates or discussions around your industry.
You can then hop onto these debates and showcase your expertise.
Alternatively, you can find such debates by searching for related hashtags on Twitter.
STEP 4: SHOW WHAT YOU CAN DO
Regardless of how good you are at presenting yourself like a professional on social media, every prospective employer knows that hiring is a risk, and therefore, before inviting you to an interview or giving you a job, they will want to see what you are capable of doing.
To increase your chances of getting invited to interviews or getting hired, you should showcase what you can do right from the start.
There are several ways of doing this. The first one is to provide a link to your portfolio on your social media pages.
This way, any prospective employer who lands on one of your social media profiles can follow the link to see some of the projects you have worked on so far.
If you have a personal website or blog, you can also include the link on your social media profiles.
A website is actually a great way to showcase your knowledge or skills. What’s more, creating a website or blog is pretty easy nowadays. You can easily create one in less than half an hour, even if you have no technical expertise.
Aside from showcasing some of the projects you have worked on and your knowledge and expertise through your blog, you should also include any professional awards and accolades you have received. This shows potential employers that you are an achiever. You can bet that this is the kind of employee every employer is looking for.
STEP 5: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!
The main purpose of social media platforms is to allow people to connect with each other, and therefore, you should take full advantage of this.
Once you are sure that your social profiles look professional and present you in the best possible light, it is now time to start building your networks.
Networking, both in real life and on social media, is very important for anyone who wants to find opportunities and advance in their career.
The good thing with networking on social media, however, is that it gives you access to virtually anyone, regardless of where in the world they are, provided they have a social media profile.
If you went to a real-life networking event that has 100 guests, you will leave the event with 99 new contacts at most.
However, on social media, there is no limit to the number of people you can get in touch with.
Remember, more than 40% of the people in the world are on social media, and you can reach most of these people with just a few clicks.
To maximize your networking efforts on social media and increase your chances of landing a great job, follow the steps below:
Start with your own networks: When the term networking is mentioned, most of us start thinking about connecting with new people. However, before you start reaching out to new people, take a minute to review your existing networks. Go through your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and LinkedIn connects and try to identify where these people are working, and in what capacity.
If any of the people in your existing networks works in a company you are interested in working for, or in a capacity that would help push your career to the next level, reach out to them and start a conversation. Even if you are barely acquainted with the person in real life, the simple fact that they are already part of your social media network makes it a lot easier for you to initiate a conversation with them.
Follow relevant individuals and companies: Find the pages of companies you would like to work for and individuals that interest you and follow or like them. This will allow you to start viewing posts and posts from them. For instance, if a company you are following posts a job opportunity, you will be able to see it. Following companies on LinkedIn also allows you to view people working for the company that you can get in touch with.
Join relevant groups: I already mentioned groups that are related to your industry. Join these groups and become an active contributor. As you debate with other group members, you can use these conversations as launching points to connect with these people and make them part of your network. In addition to industry-related groups, you can also network through student clubs, alumni organizations, and so on.
STEP 6: CONNECT WITH POTENTIAL EMPLOYERS
This point is a continuation of what I mentioned in the previous step. As a serious job seeker, you probably have a list of companies you would like to work for. If you don’t have such a list, take the time to create the list.
Once you list is ready, find these companies profiles on various social media platforms and follow them.
Doing this has a number of advantages. First, by following these companies, you will be able to see all the updates they send out via social media, including updates about vacancies and job opportunities.
Second, you will learn more about these companies, such as their company culture, what it is like to work there, the projects they are working on, the kind of employees they are looking for, and so on.
With this information, you can now tailor your social media presence to position yourself as the kind of employee they are looking for.
This information will also help you prepare for a job interview if you get invited to one.
STEP 7: START USING HASHTAGS
To most people, hashtags, common with social platforms like Twitter and Instagram, are nothing more than a simple tool to increase the visibility of your post. However, hashtags have a very important function.
They group together posts that are related to the same topic. Using hashtags, you can easily and quickly search for and find content related to the hashtag keywords. This functionality can be of great help when it comes to your job search.
In most countries and cities, people have created hashtags that employers can use to post job opportunities.
Searching for these hashtags can help you discover loads of job opportunities. There are numerous stories of people who have gotten employment through Twitter.
Some hashtags you can use to find job opportunities include #TweetMyJobs, #hiring, #jobs, #JobSearch, #NowHiring, #JobHunt, #JobOpening, and so on. There are also some Twitter handles that are dedicated to posting job opportunities.
STEP 8: GET ENDORSEMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Endorsements and recommendations are a great way of selling yourself on LinkedIn. Endorsements and recommendations act like customer reviews on ecommerce sites.
When shopping for something online, you’ll usually check the products’/seller’s reviews before deciding whether to buy the product from that seller or not.
Endorsements and recommendations play the same role. They help prospective employers get a glimpse to the kind of experience other people have had working with you.
The best part about them is that a prospective employer can check to see who endorsed or recommended you.
For instance, if your former boss gave you a great recommendation, this acts as a solid and legitimate testimony to the kind of employee you are, and will increase your chances of getting invited to interviews and getting hired.
If you are just starting out on LinkedIn and do not have any endorsements and recommendations yet, get in touch with people you have worked with before, such as your past professors, employers and clients, and request them for endorsements and recommendations.
STEP 9: REMAIN ACTIVE
The more active you are on social media, the higher your chances of getting job opportunities through social media.
Like we saw earlier, prospective employers are less likely to invite you to interviews or hire you if you have no presence on social media, or if your social media profiles are inactive.
Therefore, you want to make sure that your social media profiles remain active.
Regularly create posts, share some of the articles you are reading, comment on relevant posts by your followers and connections, and so on. The more active you are, the easier it is to grow your network.
If you find it hard to remain active on all your social media platforms, you can focus on the platforms that the companies you are interested in working for are most active on. However, whatever you do, make sure to maintain an active presence on LinkedIn.
This is the most effective social platform for professional networking, and is the most likely to help you land your dream job.
Social recruiting is here to stay, and as a job seeker, the best thing you can do is to start managing your social media platforms in a way that will increase your chances of getting that job opportunity you have been searching for.
The key to using social media for your job search is to maintain a professional image, avoid posting inappropriate content, engage in professional conversations, showcase your expertise, network with other professionals and connect with companies, take advantage of hashtags, get endorsements and recommendations, and finally, ensure that you remain active.
If you put these 9 tips into practice, finding your dream job through social media will be a matter of when, not if.
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