Finding a Job with Social Media
A road map/GPS is important when you don’t know where you’re going. It doesn’t mean you have to follow the exact path it gives you but it does provide direction. A job search is no different. Today’s hunters have multiple electronic tools and software at their fingertips but you first must begin your search with a general direction of where you’d like to go; your dream job as your final destination.
Isolate an industry (or two), decide on the lowest level of responsibility you are willing to accept (will you take an entry level position in the hopes you will eventually be promoted?), figure out a geographical area(s) and launch your search.
Choosing a Public Site
After you have figured out where you want to go, you need to devise a plan on how to get there. With one in five hiring managers using social networks , they are a good place to start. Research the social networking options out there (if you are not familiar with them). Consider where the hiring managers are as well as places that you can network. Is there a site more geared to entry level or management positions? A list of popular free sites is below:
Facebook: a social networking site that offers member profiles and streaming microblogging status fields. Multimedia upload capabilities exist. Fan pages for businesses, rockstars, etc. are also available on this site. Security features are available to lock your profile. Facebook users are all ages with the number of baby boomer users growing, while the number of high school and college age populations are stagnating or decreasing. There is also a jobs section in Facebook Marketplace.
MySpace: another social networking site similar to Facebook, where each member has his or her own page. Has blogging features but tends to draw a younger audience than Facebook.
Twitter: a microblogging site that asks the question “What are you doing?” and gives you 140 characters to describe your current state. Although it is possible to get to know hiring managers on this site, a URL or profile link is the best way to optimize this service for resume access.
LinkedIn: a career-focused networking site (with 35 million users) that features member profiles, blogs, microblogging and industry-focused forums. A vast majority of users have incomplete profiles and do not maximize the potential of this site.
YouTube: a video-sharing site. Consider uploading information or an example of a special skill, especially if it highlights your presentation skills. (Forgo anything that would be construed as unprofessional.)
Flickr: a free, photosharing site.
Cleaning Up Your Existing Sites
Now that you’ve isolated where you want to be and have created profiles on those sites (assuming you didn’t have any), a caution must be made before moving on. If you already had social networking profiles/accounts give them a good once over. Look for offensive content. Can’t find anything questionable on your profiles? Allow a respected, elderly member of your family or circle of friends peruse your profile as well. Check for the obvious like dubious photos and questionable remarks from friends but also be sensitive to topics of conversations or fanships of organizations that not everyone would share your views on. (For instance, listing on your profile that you are a proud Vegan and trying to get a job in marketing at the Beef Council may not be a good way of marketing yourself.) Also be sensitive to removing anything that links you to race, religion, politics or age. Although it is illegal for a company to make hiring considerations based on any of these things why give them a reason to place you in the large list, instead of the short stack?
You should also give consideration to removing any references you’ve made to tough times you are going through, no matter how humorous. If it’s something you have conquered, so be it but if you are still under the pressure of whatever personal or family issue, you need to remove it from your public pages. An employer is less likely to take a risk on a candidate going through issues at home than not. With the job candidate pool as full as it is, it is not advisable to stack the deck against yourself.
Even though many employees (and job candidates) believe their private pages are their business, private pages are hosted on public sites. Erasing evidence of indiscretions and questionable judgment can be as difficult as trying to cover up a wall of graffiti with a bottle of whiteout. Think before you post, but if you have already posted, investigate the security offerings on the public sites. It is better for a potential employee to come to a privacy wall than it is for him or her to go read your wall on Facebook.
Finally, after you have selected your member profiles and cleaned up existing profiles you should ensure that they are legible and easy to navigate. Design elements should be basic and information about the professional you should be front and center. If your potential employer has only a few minutes to peruse your profile(s) you want to make sure what he or she sees represents you well.
NOTE: You may also want to create a Google profile. A Google profile allows you to tailor the information about you that would appear should someone “Google” you. That way the first thing a potential employer sees is a professional profile created by you, not a questionable college picture posted by a former friend.
Think of Your Pitch as a Twitter Feed
Telling everyone you know that you are looking for a job is key. Broadcast it across social media land but be ready to field the question of -- what you are looking for. Think of the answer to that question as a Twitter feed. Make it short, to-the-point and containing all pertinent information. Many job coaches refer to this as the “elevator pitch.” You have a limited time to impress and regale the hiring manager, friend or corner grocer, so don’t waste her time or yours. Be prepared. Know what you want and be able to communicate it concisely.
Going Beyond the Free Sites
The free social networking sites boast huge audiences but the same benefit that draws you there can also impede your job search. You are searching for a job where there are hundreds of thousands of candidates amidst people using the site(s) solely for entertainment and social purposes. Not including LinkedIn, it is difficult to stand out in a professional way on these sites. They are akin to a cattle call. The most efficient use of your free social profile(s) is a landing spot or reference point. More serious discussions and web presence should be established elsewhere.
Some national (as well as state- and local-level) professional associations and trade and industry groups host private networks, bulletin boards and/or forums. These are great places to network with others in your area of interest. Some are free; some require you to pay a membership fee. Check with your tax advisor as some of these costs may be tax deductible.
Private social networking organizations (like those sites hosted by YourMembership.com) may provide a career center. This not only helps you network with people in the industry; it provides job postings and other related job-hunting information. Many sites also offer companies the ability to view posted résumés. These sites are career-focused and smaller than the free-for-all social networking sites.
There are also membership communities based around technical schools, colleges and graduate school alumni organizations; fraternal organizations; industry- (and non-industry-) related affinity sites (such as Tampa Bay Technology Forum, women in political science and veteran organizations); as well as faith-based groups. Any of these organizations are worth looking into as they may provide a tighter community and common ground from which to begin your networking process. Plus, most folks trust their own tribe, that is to say a connection as simple as sharing the same college, major or fraternity may place you above the competition and what better way to let the hiring manager know you are who you claim to be than meeting through a private online community based around that connection.
Joining the Conversation
Once you have selected the right networks for you and established professional profiles, you can begin the networking part of “social networking for a job.” The same social etiquette that applies to occasions like cocktail parties and business functions should apply to networking on the Internet. It is easy to lose sight of your audience and express yourself in ways that are unprofessional and even comical. Networking is not about shaking virtual hands, it’s about connecting with others. Landing a position with your dream company is merely a by-product (or reward) of those connections and with 3.3 job seekers for every open position , you need to find a way to stand out.
Begin by listening. A good conversationalist must be a good listener. Do not log into a forum and immediately hijack the existing conversation. You are there to connect and provide advice/knowledge. Earning professional respect takes time and does not occur because it is demanded. Keep in mind that although you are communicating through a computer or mobile-enabled device, you are still communicating with live people not avatars or icons.
Another good way to keep abreast of industry news and events is by visiting blogs. Many companies have blogs and many employees within the company have personal blogs. Research them and become a part of their active community. Cultivate some good will and compliment them on useful and insightful pieces and/or products. Subscribing to RSS feeds and employing bookmarks will provide the latest content to the reader of your choice, providing a customized newspaper of sorts that you can review throughout the day.
Help the Employer Make a Decision
As mentioned in the earlier sections, there are many things you can do that would help employers make a decision against hiring you but it’s more important and more helpful in your job search to provide them with reasons to hire you.
Social networking to find a job is work. When done properly, you will spend a large part of your day connecting, responding, searching and researching. Why not parlay those skills into a job? Make sure your potential employer knows the extent to which you researched the industry, the degree to which you are self-taught on social media. Show him or her that you recognized a trend and set about on an organized, systematic method of job search and that you will bring this hard-work and dedication to their organization. Don’t expect an employer to read your resume and come to this knowledge on his or her own. The average hiring manager reviews your resume in 30 seconds. You cannot take the chance that he will draw that conclusion on his own. Spell it out.
In addition to enumerating the skills you acquired during your job search, don’t allow yourself to be discouraged if your dream company doesn’t seem to be hiring. Investigate, research (social networks are a great way to locate information about the hiring managers and those you may interview with) and ask questions. There just might be an opening that hasn’t been posted yet. Your focus should be about possibilities, not a sure thing. Garnering a referral is almost as valuable as landing that job. If you concentrate on making a connection, you are broadening your possibilities.
Applying for a job posting makes you one of hundreds these days. Making a connection and receiving advice and prospects makes you stand out. According to research by Gerry Crispin, owner of Careerxroads Job Placement Consultancy, an employee referral yields a 50-70 percent higher chance of gaining an interview than a resume alone. An employee referral is critical to standing out. Use social networks to research the key players in your targeted area of the company. Maybe you realize you went to the same college, maybe you are involved in the same civic association. One note of caution: remember your goal is to make a connection not be obtrusive or disturb the privacy of the hiring manager. Recognize the boundaries.
Sometimes the Answer is No
Sometimes, no matter how hard you look, network and connect, there are simply no openings in your chosen field in your geographic area. When this is the case, what do you do? How do you deal with the fear behind having an unexplainable or embarrassing gap in your resume? Keeping the idea of supply and demand in your head, it seems that employers want to hire employees who are employed not the bench warmers with bad attitudes. So how do you appear gainfully employed when there are no jobs in your area?
There has been a lot of debate over what job searchers should do with their time when they are not pursuing a job. Some headhunters suggest filling in your resume gaps with volunteer/unpaid internships with companies in your field of interest. Others caution that doing so is akin to devaluing yourself and may actually hinder you from landing that dream position.
A compromise is possible. By volunteering for a nonprofit organization you are able to fill in the gap in employment history on your resume without devaluing your skills. After all, no one knows for sure whether your volunteerism is an act of goodwill or a place holder until you attain gainful employment. You can acquire new skills and help the community at the same time. Some private communities (like those of YourMembership.com’s customers) have volunteer listings as part of their volunteer center, making it easy to find something well-suited to your needs and skills. Plus now you have a new group of people with which to network. With nonprofits that span every cause and industry, you are sure to find one that suits your career interests.
A Final Word
So you’ve networked and searched and hopefully used the technology tools to your best advantage. When your connections begin to pay off show those referring folks the same decency you would for someone who held the door open for you. Thank them. It’s a basic concept but one that can be lost in our virtual connections with others. Show appreciation for all help not just the ones that panned out for you.
Sometimes you’ll receive leads on something you are just not interested in, and it’s okay to tell the referrers in a straightforward way. Maybe they misunderstood your career objectives. Maybe you miscommunicated them. Either way, that individual tried to be of some assistance and for that you should be thankful.
If you’re looking for a job or new career, take that first step. Get going, get social and land that new career!
About YourMembership.com Inc.
Established in 1998 YourMembership.com is a software company that helps member-centric organizations around the world provide more value to their members, expand their membership bases, and enhance overall operational efficiencies. YourMembership.com’s SaaS-model membership software solution features three integrated components – a complete member website, online community and membership management software – that transform how organizations capture valuable member data and transform that data into actionable information. For more information visit www.YourMembership.com.
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