Editor’s note: This is the first in a series on using social media to best advantage in the job search.
Social media is here to stay, like it or not. The "Big 4" social media players of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube have become tightly intertwined with our personal and professional lives and completely transformed the news media.
Millions of people worldwide use some sort of social media channel on a daily, if not hourly, basis to stay in touch with friends and family or to promote their businesses. Social media is becoming increasingly important as a critical method by which to market their skills and network online.
To the novice social media user, it can be overwhelming to decide how and where to start interacting online. If your goal is to conduct a successful job search through social media, then anxiety levels can increase for even the most learned user. The good news is that there are some simple guidelines to adhere to when embarking upon how to use social media to secure your dream position.
A savvy individual always keeps his audience in mind when searching for and communicating with target individuals and organizations. Your time to devote to social media will be limited during the job search process; therefore, it is essential to determine where your audience "lives" online and apply your resources accordingly.
Your audience might be former colleagues, HR representatives and executives of ideal employers, current and past clients, alumni connections or professional organizations. You may even determine social media isn't the quickest path to employment because your fellow professionals only hire from within or rub elbows at industry conferences . If that's the case then you have just saved yourself time and effort. However, for the vast majority of today's candidates, an appealing profile and a smart strategy will bolster your search.
It's easy to feel compelled to be all things to all people on all social media mediums. This is not the easy road because an effective social media strategy — versus merely hanging up your Internet shingle — takes more time and energy than you might think. The practical strategy is to begin with the one channel that is most germane to your search, reach a level of proficiency or mastery through proven traction with contacts and then decide if you can take on another social media outlet.
To help simplify your social media selection, we’ve created a concise overview of the leading social media platforms and what they offer in your job search. Consider your career aspirations and then analyze the opportunities to create with social media.
There is an art and a science to building a professional presence online. Here are some basic tips for launching your profile:
Once you have built a professional presence online, the key to your success will be an ongoing commitment to tend to your profile, participate in the online community and be an avid adopter of new technological improvements from social media providers, such as Facebook’s new Timeline.
Social media can be fun, educational and a great community builder. However, if your goal is to supplement your job search, then you must periodically evaluate your effectiveness online. Go ahead and ask a few close and not-so-close contacts what they think of your profile. This informal “audit” process will provide valuable feedback to boost your presence.
Also, set specific goals for your search. For example, on Twitter you might want to Tweet three to five times per day, have 300 people follow you and get “ReTweeted” once per week. The beauty of social media is that it’s incredibly measurable and there are tools such as Klout that can help you quickly surmise how much power you wield.
To know that you’re on the right track with your job search, take note of how many new and valuable contacts you are making, how many “coffees” you are arranging with leads and how many interviews you are securing through your online efforts. The real proof, of course, will be to land the perfect job.
Good luck with your search and enjoy the benefits of social media!