Using social media to find a job can’t be ignored in today’s hypercompetitive job market, and according to research by Telstra more than a quarter of employers in Australia are now using it to screen job candidates. Over a third of these employers also say they have hired someone based on positive things they saw online.
But having a social media presence not only makes you more visible to hiring managers and recruiters looking for people with your skills, qualifications and experience, it can also help you become more proactive in your job search.
If you’re new to using social media as a tool for professional networking rather than socialising and keeping in touch with friends, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
Develop a professional online presence
Social media can help or hinder your job search, so it’s important to make sure that when employers do look you up online, what they find will reflect the same professional image you project in person.
You can do a quick Google search on your name and remove any information you wouldn’t want an employer to see, but keep in mind that the main point is not to hide the fact that you’ve ever been active online, but to make yourself more visible to potential employers.
LinkedIn is usually the first place an employer will look, so take the time to complete your profile with a professional photo and details of your work experience, education, volunteer experiences, hobbies and other skills or interests.
Let others in your network know you’re looking
Let your friends and followers know that you’re looking for a job. Not only will this help you hear about new job opportunities before anyone else does, but if a head hunter or recruiter is using social media to find candidates like yourself, they’ll know you’re available.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should set your job title to “Unemployed” on LinkedIn or Twitter, as this is unlikely to attract anyone. Instead, describe yourself as a professional in the field you would like to work in, even if you’re new to the industry, and let others know that you’re looking for a new challenge to take on.
Follow companies and top people in your industry
One of the best things about sites like Facebook and Twitter is that they allow you to follow top companies and people in the industry you would like to work in. This allows you to get to know different company cultures, make new connections and see how others present themselves online, and keep up with the latest industry news.
On LinkedIn, your first step will be connecting with the people you know, whether they’re classmates, previous employers or colleagues and friends. Once you’re connected, you can ask for introductions, recommendations and references.
Share too much information
Sharing a few well-chosen details about your personal experiences and daily life can help you seem more genuine and approachable, but there’s a fine line between showcasing your personality and sharing too much information.
Think carefully before sharing personal details and photos or publically commenting on controversial issues. If it’s something that could be misinterpreted by someone who doesn’t know you or might be a turn off an employer who doesn’t share your religious or political views, it would probably be better to share it privately.
Be too casual
Emoticons and text message lingo should be used sparingly when communicating with people through your blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn or whatever other networks you use professionally.
Poor spelling and grammar or even an overuse of popular slang may cause employers to doubt your ability to communicate effectively and could damage your credibility. Make an effort to remain respectful and professional when approaching anyone online, whether it’s to ask for a recommendation, make an introduction or comment on something they’ve written.
Take on too much at once
It’s better to have just one up-to-date and active social media account than to jump on board with five or six sites that you don’t have the time to maintain. Start with just one or two sites you feel comfortable with and learn how to use them effectively.
Once you’re in the habit of updating your site regularly and have built up a good following on Twitter or made some valuable connections on LinkedIn, you can think about branching out and trying another site that meets your professional needs.