How to Find and Be Found by Your Future Employer
Social Media and Your Job Search
Social media offers far more than just chances to chat with your friends; it's especially useful when it comes time to look for a job. While it's true social media can hamper your job prospects if you aren't careful about what you post online, with some considered crafting and targeted effort, your social media accounts can become among your greatest assets for landing a job. Recruiters have taken notice, too, and are upping their game of looking for employees through social media more than ever. In fact, a 2014 JobVite study shows that companies plan to increase their recruiting through social media by 73 percent. With all major social media platforms combined, you'll open yourself up to a marketplace of potential employers who need what you have to offer.
Of course, not all social media is created equal. Each kind of account has its own rules and functions, and learning the etiquette of each early on will help you get ahead in getting the job you seek. We'll show you the best ways to take advantage of the different platforms, provide solutions to some common challenges along the way, and open your eyes to opportunities you may not even know exist!
Get Started with LinkedIn
In the online world, think of LinkedIn as your virtual business card. JobVite's study showed that 94 percent of recruiters who use social media go to LinkedIn first. Here, you can make your job history and work skills easily available to prospective employers with one click. LinkedIn is not only a place where employers go to vet candidates before interviews, it's a place where they go to look for and contact candidates in the first place.
Use for: Displaying your job history and skills; Expanding your professional network; Making yourself easy to find and contact online.
- Post your Resume. However, you want to post a concise, relevant, tailored version of your resume, not ten pages featuring every job you've ever had.
- Use a Professional-looking Headshot. A strong headshot is a close-up of your face, ideally with a simple, uncluttered background. Smile for your close-up.
- List your Skills and Complete all Job Descriptions. The more complete your profile, the more professional you appear. Bonus if you add media such as videos, files and slideshows. On your "Home" page, LinkedIn will even prompt you to "improve your profile" and fill in sections you may have neglected.
- Get your Custom URL. This makes it easier to put your LinkedIn profile address on your business card or resume.
- Use SEO-friendly Search Terms in your Profile. This enables prospective employers to find you more easily. What does this mean? Think about the kinds of words an employer in your field might search for, as well as words that describe your specific job or field.
- Leave your Heading Blank. A job-seeker should have "job title" followed by "seeking opportunities."
- Skip the Summary. You have only a few seconds to grab a person's attention. Use bullet points, not long paragraphs, to highlight your best assets.
- Forget to Ask for Recommendations. Credible endorsements from friends and colleagues lends credibility in an employer's eyes.
- Forget to Stay Active. Expand your LinkedIn network. Join groups where you think a potential employer is hanging out. Blog about topics related to your subject and share them on your LinkedIn profile. Recommend and endorse others regularly.
LinkedIn has an entire "Jobs" section where you can search for jobs by keyword, company name or job title and narrow your search by location. LinkedIn will also recommend jobs for you based on your profile, so staying tuned in will allow you to be quick on the uptake when others in your field post opportunities.
Of course, there are less direct ways to find work through LinkedIn—by reaching out to peers in your field via groups or by sending InMail (LinkedIn's intra-site messaging) to forge new connections. Even just updating your profile on LinkedIn can signal new attention to your professional appearance, and therefore interest in a new job or career path.
Depending on your situation, you may either way to widely publicize your LinkedIn activity or keep it under wraps—or both, depending on the activity. So, how can you control what others see of your activity?
Things that Will Always Be Visible on LinkedIn
- When you Share Content
- When you "Like" or Comment on Shared Content
- When you Follow a University Page
- When you Upgrade to a Premium Account (not the same as a Job Seeker account)
- When you Follow an Influencer, Channel, or Publisher
- In order to hide things like following a company or adding skills and a new photo to your profile, here are three easy steps to take form your desktop:
- Step 1: From your LinkedIn homepage, find "Profile" directly above your profile photo and choose "Edit Profile."
- Step 2: Scroll down and on the right-hand side of the page, find "Notify your network?" under the "Who's Viewed Your Profile section."
- Step 3: Toggle "Notify your network?" from "Yes" to "No."
- How to hide your profile changes from iOS and Android (mobile browser or app):
- Step 1: Tap "Me" icon on the navigation bar.
- Step 2: Find and tap "Settings."
- Step 3: Find and tap "Privacy."
- Step 4: Find and tap "Sharing profile edits."
- Step 5: Toggle from "Yes" to "No."
To limit who can see your connections, old or new, you have to do a little more. From your homepage, select your profile image in the top right corner. Choose "Privacy and Settings." From this page, you can scroll down to "Select who can see your connections": LinkedIn automatically has this set to "Your Connections," but you can adjust to "Only You."
Word to the Wise: any 1st-degree connections will still be able to see your list of shared connections. So, if your employer is a 1st degree connection of yours and you want to reach out to someone on LinkedIn without his or her knowledge, you won't be able to connect privately if your employer is also connected to them. However, you can send In-Mail privately to this person, just bear in mind that they do know your current employer.
Reimagine your Facebook
Use for: Networking in a whole new way
Facebook may be one of the most truly social forms of social media, but it also contains an untapped goldmine of professional networking connections if you just know how to look for them. In fact, 66% of recruiters who use social media to recruit do so on Facebook. Also, keep in mind that Facebook allows you to create "professional" pages—so you could dedicate one to your working life; however, your personal profile will still be searchable by employers, and that's all you really need.
- Post clean and professional photos - In the Careerbuilder study, 49 percent of the employers who were discouraged (that's 34% of hiring managers) about hiring someone from their social media profile(s) were discouraged by a provocative photo.
- Include your professional history in your personal profile. Your Facebook profile offers you plenty of space to put your work history, your skills and qualifications, and even a catchy short "about" section.
- Create a "professional contacts" list. Facebook allows you to classify your friends by "lists." Then, you can share specific content with these lists only. When you meet someone on Facebook you think is a potential contact for employment, add them to your professional list.
- Use the search bar to look up potential employers' companies by name. This will also show you which friends work for those companies, mention those companies, or have friends who work for/mention those companies, giving you new reach for networking.
- Make all your photos available to everyone, particularly personal photos. Facebook allows you customize who sees what. Under every post you make, every photo you upload is a little triangle that says "Friends." Click it and select "more options." Then you share content, or specifically choose not to share content, with specific lists and people.
- Share any post you wouldn't be comfortable having your grandma read. Remember, the Internet is forever.
- Brag or boast about skills you don't have. Instead, if you lack a skill, like Excel or HTML knowledge, make clear to your potential employer your willingness for professional development on these fronts. Candor = Maturity.
Search the companies or organizations you're interested in working for, "like" their pages and look for who, of your "friends," works for the company. Respond thoughtfully to content the company or organization posts. Capitalize on Facebook's more casual nature and "friend" or message friends-of-friends who may expand your professional network.
Use Twitter the Right Way
Use for: Accessing people you can't normally access
- Follow people/companies in your field so you can keep up with what they're doing.
- Include hashtags in your bio that pertain to your skills or line of work. This makes it easy for employers looking to hire to find you in a quick search. For example: #writer or #techgeek or #marketing.
- Retweet companies and professionals whose attention you seek to gain.
- Customize your header with a professional image or background.
- Get too chatty and informal on Twitter. Instead, share interesting content, retweet others, and stick to a tone that's friendly but not goofy.
- Leave your profile picture empty. Empty profiles appear as "eggs" and most people will unfollow you when they see this.
- Beg for work. Generic tweets saying, "I sure need a job!" aren't going to impress anyone. Carefully crafted tweets that showcase your work. "A recent article I published," or "My latest cabinet refinishing" with a photo and a relevant hashtag #DIYWoodwork, will go a lot further.
Search for "is hiring..." and your area of expertise in the search button. "Is hiring marketing managers" or "is hiring rocket scientists..." Tweets will appear with relevant info.
Follow & interact with companies/editors/professionals in your field. Let them know you exist, and have the skills they need in employees.
If you're going to play on Twitter, be sure to use hashtags in your tweets. The hashtag is not only a shorthand way to have fun with your friends, but a powerful tool in searching, and being found, on Twitter. Note: Hashtags don't recognize capital letters; those are just to make the words more visible.
- Search the following hashtags for job openings: #careers #employment #hiring #JobOpening #NowHiring or get creative and see what turns up: #MarketingJobs #WritersWanted, etc....
- Try to create your own hashtag that gets attention for your work or a project. Make sure it's distinctive, memorable, and not too long.
- Take advantage of trending hashtags in your own tweets to generate attention and interaction. These appear on the left hand side of your main Twitter feed.
Don't Neglect Google+
You can almost guarantee that a prospective employer is going to Google you if they're interested in you. Google+ is the professional version of Google—and if you create a page for yourself, you show a prospective employer that you take your searchability and your professionalism seriously. That's because the more content you share via Google+, the more content of yours is indexed in Google, and will turn up when someone searches your name. And, according to a 2014 report, 54% of Internet users have a Google+ account; why not extend your reach?
Use for: Optimizing your place on Google search
- Add links to your introduction
- Fill out your "story"—which is like your bio—with search friendly keywords, and a pithy, brief description of who you are and what you do. Keep this professional but engaging.
- Share content on Google+ to index your content with Google's search engine and make you easier for people to find.
- Keyword-stuff. This is when you attempt to fill your profile or bio with only keywords, rather than authentic descriptions or content.
- Keyword-stuff. This is when you attempt to fill your profile or bio with only keywords, rather than authentic descriptions or content.
- Forget to fill out your profile. You can't be found if there's nothing there to see.
- Forget to upload a high quality photo.
Showcase your Talents: Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube and Blogs
Use for: Advertising special skills; Creating a brand; Presenting a well-rounded you
You may think that you don't need to use Instagram or Pinterest because you're not in a visual field, or that nobody wants to read a blog about your particular line of work. Here's where you're wrong—these forms of social media offer you opportunities to demonstrate your unique skills, create a brand and showcase your personality. For example, an author can make Pinterest boards of images that reflect the characters and worlds in their books to attract fans; a yoga teacher seeking a new job might share pictures of herself holding poses to showcase her strength and form; Youtube is considered the second largest search engine in the world and, according to the Pew Research Center, 0.78 of Internet users watch and download videos. Don't miss out on this chance to reach these viewers. Blogging is personal, conversational and accessible. A Hubspot study shows that blogging can drive up to 55% more traffic to a website. Increase your chances of being seen by taking advantage of at least one of these forms of social media.
Share photos that are in keeping with your personal brand
Bombard people with pictures like a personal photo album. Pick and choose what you share and do so strategically.
Fill out the description of each pin you upload, with keywords, and even hashtags.
Create a new Pinterest board with anything less than five pins on it.
Make sure you've got a clean, professional backdrop, good lighting and appropriate professional clothing on.
Post your first video attempt. Practice several times until you've gotten it just right.
Blog about topics that relate to your line of work, even if indirectly, and as often as you can find the time. Search engines love fresh content, so the more you blog, the more traffic you can potentially generate.
Be negative. Never blog about your problems, how you haven't found work, or how you dislike working with a client or employer. Keep it uplifting, positive, inspired—exactly as you'd like your potential employer to see you.
Even if you're still trying to figure out what you want to do or be in life, you can craft a personal brand. While we normally identify brands with big companies and their products, like Nike or Wheaties, you are your own brand. As early in your career as possible think about your own authentic talents and use them to shape and craft your own brand online. What makes you unique? What are your strengths? Are you a genius at HTML? Can you turn grimy furniture into crafty creations? Your brand should reflect in your logo if you make a business card or a website; you should be able to sum it up in a one-liner and give it as an elevator pitch. If someone were to make a commercial about you, what would be the hook? Keep in mind, especially as you create your profiles across social media, that your online presence/brand feels unified and connected, not scattered.
Get into Action: Your Next Steps
Maybe you are brand new to the world of social media, or maybe you've been Facebooking since middle school. No matter how social media savvy you are, we have an action plan for how you can up your game to land the job you want.
Not Ready: Help!
If you're a little overwhelmed, all you really need is an Internet connection, a working computer, and the ability to type in: Google.com. In Google, you can type in any key words imaginable and pull up reams of information. Start with "how to create a LinkedIn account." Follow the steps. Familiarize yourself with the site. When you're comfortable, move on to the next—Twitter, Facebook.
- Fill out all social media profiles. If you've already got at least one social media account but haven't completed all your personal information, now is the time to wrap that up. Make sure your profiles are complete, that you're consistent in your personal branding, and that you're engaging on your social media platforms at least once a week.
- Get active. Start making posts and sharing content even once a week, and work your way up to once or more per day. Share information that you read; it doesn't all have to be fresh content.
- Balance personal and professional. Just because you hope to be professional doesn't mean you need to be stiff and formal. You can share a fun anecdote, a story, something you learned or read. Just keep it clean, and overshare your personal information.
Ready to Rock!
- Already online but too busy to post? Schedule your posts with an auto-scheduler such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Be sure that each post is friendly in word count and tone to the platform you're sharing it with.
- Increase your followers. Use each social media platform to invite others to follow you on the other platforms. Post lovely pictures on Instagram, add in a note: "If you like what you see, come check me out on Twitter or Facebook," and of course, don't forget to share those links. Do a hashtag search of relevant keywords on Twitter and follow 50 new people per day for a week.
- You can also use your other accounts to optimize your online presence. Depending on what field you're going into, having a higher Klout score could be a real asset.
5 Things a Job-Seeker Should Never Do with Social Media
Never say never - except for these five things.
Never post or advertise sexually explicit or inappropriate photos
Less is more. Consider the results of the Careerbuilder study.
Never post or advertise yourself drinking or using drugs
It might seem like there's a certain acceptability around this today, but no one wants to hire someone who looks like they'll be calling in and crawling to the office hungover all the time.
Never bad-mouth a former employer or coworker
This suggests that you would feel comfortable doing the same with your new employer, or that you have poor professional boundaries.
Never lie about your skills
It's bad form, and you'll eventually be found out anyway.
Never threaten or harass a potential employer or colleague for work
Never threaten or harass a potential employer or colleague for work. Threats, harassment, bullying or blackmail are all signs of trouble, potentially illegal, and sure to keep you out of the job.
Interviews: Using Social Media to Land A Job
We asked two professionals to summarize how they effectively found new jobs through social media.
Giselle Aguiar is an award-winning writer, social media and content marketing strategist. She trains business owners on how to increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their respective fields. She's the social media manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and recently opened the AZ Social Media Training Center.
Joe Sloan is Accounts Director at 30 Miles North Public Relations, a boutique agency in Santa Monica specializing in a creative blend of digital and traditional PR activities for clients around the lifestyle and tech startup communities. Sloan does everything from business development and new client outreach to creating comprehensive PR campaigns.
What forms of social media did you use [to find your job]?
You name it, I used it. LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, SimplyHired, CareerBuilder, WordPress.com, Facebook, Twitter.
I used Facebook by joining and interacting with industry-focused groups.
I used Twitter to research industry-focused hashtags.
I used LinkedIn to do further research and cull contact information and details.
I used Instagram to get a feel for the "attitude" of potential employers.
What steps did you take that worked for you to find work through social media?
- I blogged at least once a week about my expertise.
- I posted regularly on LinkedIn updates and in local Arizona groups.
- I emailed 50 contacts each from my Yahoo address book and from LinkedIn connections asking if they knew someone who was hiring. Note: the LinkedIn feature that allowed users to email up to 50 people at a time has been eliminated. However, a similar feature may be available in the LinkedIn Premium for Job Seekers.
- I attended live networking and job seeking events / job fairs, then connected with the people I met on LinkedIn.
- Prayer, persistence, perseverance.
- I joined industry-focused Facebook groups and began interacting with fellow industry professionals.
- I asked for help!
- I posted my resume on industry-focused Facebook groups.
- I promptly responded to inbound engagement on social media channels with appreciation, humility, and enthusiasm.
- I got creative and made a "press release" formatted resume.
About the Author