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Monday, June 13, 2011

You 2.0: The Brave New World of Social Media and Online Job Searches

There are a million different websites out there providing advice on social media and job search … many of which have some great nuggets… but which one is right for you? 

The answer is: Any or all of them.

Or maybe none!

You’ll definitely need to do your research on finding out where you need to be and how to build your online content and messaging towards a target audience.

But one thing is clear… pressing ‘send’ isn’t going to magically make job offers or interviews appear. 

You absolutely have to work every bit as hard on the social media end during the online pursuit of jobs as you would with networking in real life at a business meeting.

This month, the Career Collective pulls together a great mind meld of career industry experts to discuss strategies of how to use social media in a job search. (Please click the links at the bottom of this post to access other career experts' articles!)

It’s all about building relationships and reinforcing your personal brand.  Having a prominent online brand and presence can not only define you, but also help you be’ found’ by employers.

Keeping these two ideas in the forefront of your strategy, social media can make the online job search and real-life networking meetings much easier. Here are a few tips to help you make sense of the befuddling array of advice out there to make social media work for you during a job search:

How to use it:

If done correctly, think of social media is your 24/7/365 marketing guardian.  It can be working when you aren’t.  But the key is to put the effort into planning into this by understanding the technology first. The key is to understand the ‘big players’ in social media, what they do, and what role each one of them represents in your job search.

Facebook:  Think of this social media outlet as a way to connect on a personal level to friends and contacts – they get to know you and vice versa.  Another advantage of Facebook is that you can keep your network updated on your job search progress (I.e.: Have an interview at ABC company – does anyone have a contact over there?) I call Facebook an ‘ongoing conversation’ with your first-tier contacts.

Twitter: Companies can tweet about specific jobs, provide updates on the company’s direction, mention change in personnel, and can reveal specific names of people who work at your target company to follow.  You can use this information to introduce yourself, network with key contacts, and gather information to help round out your knowledge of a specific employer.

LinkedIn:  There’s a reason that LinkedIn recently did an IPO on their stock: it has quickly become the ‘go-to’ resource for both job seekers, people who are employed, and also employers.  It has become THE gathering ground of the business world in order to see and be seen… Another feature of LinkedIn is that it is quickly becoming the next generation of a résumé or CV that makes you, again, accessible 24/7.

Blogs: Employers are increasingly hiring subject matter experts and what better way to demonstrate your subject matter expertise in a particular industry area than to write about it?  Producing a blog does require a commitment and should be a regular activity,  If you don’t use it, how do you expect others to?

Getting started and key do’s and don’ts:

Let’s tackle this section by addressing each platform so you can understand what are the ‘must-do’s’ for each social media tool.

Facebook: While Facebook gives you the opportunity to reflect your personality, don’t forget that this is can also be a PROFESSIONAL forum… exercise caution about posting things that are polarizing or would be embarrassing to you should a prospective employer see it.  And then there are always the human resource software programs that can bypass privacy settings, so don’t be fooled into thinking that your tirades or photos from last weekend’s party at the beach are protected from prospective employers.  When in doubt, don’t post!!  Key things to include: Photo, regular updates, and information that you think your network might be interested in.

Twitter: Key things to include: photo or avatar, short bio, and a link to your LinkedIn profile, an online résumé or CV, or a professional Facebook page.  Including a customized, professional background can add visual interest to your Twitter homepage.  But it doesn’t stop there… you then need to start tweeting. Find experts in your industry, follow them, and if they have a great nugget of information you would like to share, then re-tweet it.  Then develop your own content… and find the appropriate hashtags (#) to categorize your content… you’ll be surprised at how many people will re-tweet your info.  But beware of spambots that follow you or mention you in their Tweets in an attempt to get you to click on their links (which could be malware too)… If they follow me, then I block them. If they mention me in a spam tweet, I block and report them.  Having a bazillion followers that are spammers does nothing to enhance your professional reputation on line… instead, cultivate a quality list of followers in your industry and do the same for those leaders that you respect.

LinkedIn:  One of my favorite ways of stating the importance of having a fully complete profile on LinkedIn is this:  “Having an incomplete LinkedIn profile is like showing up to an interview wearing sweatpants.”  It’s true. Take the time to fill out the entire profile and add a little more personality on including some of your top takeaways from jobs. Make sure to include a photo, join relevant industry groups, and ask for recommendations from respected people in your network, but don’t ‘trade’ testimonials in the ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ tradition… employers can smell a rat like that a mile away… so choose the people that you ask for recommendations carefully, and find different things that they can highlight so everyone has a different angle to talk about.  Another thing to boost your subject matter expertise is to answer questions in your specific field under the Q&A option – that can help you get noticed.

Blog:  Again, if you start one, keep adding to it.  And keep it topical and on theme.  If you spend one day musing about political things then the next article, you jump right into an industry-specific post, you’ll be perceived as being all over the map.  Stay on topic, and don’t be afraid to post other relevant posts from individuals in your industry- but the key here is to not only ask for their permission but also provide attribution. NEVER incorporate content that is not yours and try to infer that it is.  That makes a lot of people cranky and also has legal repercussions.  ALWAYS provide proper attribution to the rightful author. Who knows? They might cross post one of your blog entries!   When creating a blog, map out your posting schedule, include a bio and photo, and any other relevant links. Another courtesy thing to do is to create a ‘blog roll’ of additional related blogs of interest to help give the reader an idea of who you think are industry thought leaders.  It actually adds gravitas to your credentials!

Be sure to read other related articles written by top industry career experts by following #careercollective on Twitter, and see what they have to say on this topic: (and you can follow them too- included are their Twitter handles!)

How Having Your Own Website Helps You, @keppie_careers
Make Your Career More Social: Show Up and Engage, @WalterAkana
How to Get a New Job Using Social Media, @DebraWheatman
Social Media: Choosing, Using, and Confusing, @ErinKennedyCPRW
Updating: A Social Media Strategy For Job Search, @TimsStrategy
How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman
We Get By With a Little Recs from Our Friends, @chandlee
Expat Careers & Social Media: Social Media is Potentially 6 Times more Influential than a CV or Resume, @expatcoachmegan
Social-Media Tools and Resources to Maximize Your Personalized Job Search, @KatCareerGal
Job Search and Social Media: A Collective Approach, @careersherpa
Social Media: So what’s the point?, @DawnBugni
Tools that change your world, @WorkWithIllness
HOW TO: Meet People IRL via LinkedIn, @AvidCareerist
Jumping Into the Social Media Sea@ValueIntoWords
Social Media Primer for Job Seekers, @LaurieBerenson
Your Career Needs Social Media - Get Started, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland
Sink or Swim in Social Media, @KCCareerCoach
Effective Web 2.0 Job Search: Top 5 Secrets, @resumeservice

7 comments:

Career Sherpa said...

Dawn:
Welcome to Career Collective and what a super post!

I laughed when I read an incomplete LinkedIn profile is like showing up at an interview wearing sweatpants! What a wonderful analogy!

You've done a great job outlining the benefits of each platform and in a way that is easy to understand!

Debra Wheatman said...

This article is a good primer for those who want to get started using social media for job search.

I like the emphasis on joining LinkedIn groups and answering questions on LinkedIn. Both of those methods have proven invaluable for my own branding efforts.

Debra

edmusesupon said...

Dawn, congratulations on joining the Career Collective!

This is excellent, I love how meaty & substantial your post is about social media/job search!

Chandlee said...

Dawn,

Great summary. Love the idea of how social media can be working for you -- or against you if you're not careful--while you sleep!

Chandlee

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter (CareerTrend) said...

Hi Dawn,

My favorite line of your meaty post: "Pressing 'send' isn't going to magically make job offers or interviews appear." Oh so true! We all want that magic 'button,' but alas, it isn't there.

However, you passionately extoll the virtues of social media as a 24/7/365 marketing guardian <-- I like that, too!

With roll-up-your-sleeves effort, the job search and career management process definitely can be enhanced, and perhaps even propelled through this world of online engagement.

Well done - and thank you for joining us here at the Career Collective!

Jacqui

Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers said...

It's so true that social media can be a 24/7/365 marketing guardian. I strongly agree it's important for job seekers to make sure to choose the right tools, although I would argue that -- at the least -- LinkedIn is a "must have" social network for job seekers! Thanks for joining the Career Collective! Looking forward to your future contributions!

Nicholas Gronow said...

This is some great practical tips on how to harness popular social media applications to promote yourself 24/7. I never thought of Facebook as a conversion with my top tier contacts.

LinkedIn is definitely the place to create a dynamic resume, which can not only include the usual education/work history/skills, but can also include, like Dawn says, recommendations that should provide different perspectives an employer can use to learn more about the complete you.