The Job Hunter's Guide to Social Media

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

If you're actively seeking a new job, there is little doubt you've incorporated some use of social media into that search.

For years now we've had the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Now Google has entered the market with Google+. So, which social media site is the best for helping you find a new job?

Before you begin, you have to understand the two primary ways you can use social media while job hunting.

The most obvious way to use social media is to advertise who you are and what you bring to the table.

Social media is great for this because there is so much content being created and distributed today, and social media is always the latest index to that material. By being the latest, your results will be the first on the list.

The second method is to use social media to locate people who can influence hiring decisions. You can seek them out, get to know them via social media and move that relationship offline. Once you do that, you're in the door for an interview!

But first you need to know which social media outlet does what and how you can use each one to up your chances of snagging a job.

Advertise Yourself On Facebook

When someone searches for you by name, Facebook results will often be one of the first they see. Google yourself to check. You want to make sure all results for your name will be viewed positively by hiring managers and recruiters. First you need to make sure you are aware that everything you do on Facebook could be seen by the whole world. That's why Facebook is more likely to cost you a job than find you one.

But you can turn that search result into a positive one. Employers know you are “off-duty” when you're on Facebook. Use Facebook to highlight an article relevant to your job every once in a while. Add technologies you use to your likes list. Join professional organizations that use Facebook. “Like” employers who influence you. All of these can help your job search.

Unfortunately you can't only include job-relevant information on your Facebook profile because you'd simply come off as fake. Besides, Facebook is primarily for connecting with friends. Just make sure the materials you're sharing remain employer-friendly.

Make Professional Connections with Facebook

While you could search for people through Facebook, many people won't add you unless they already know you. That makes getting an introduction with a hiring manager very difficult via Facebook alone. That's why there are add-ins for Facebook such as BranchOut.

BranchOut is a new service available through Facebook that lets you build professional connections with your current friends. Think of it as LinkedIn for Facebook.

You just add the company you currently work for to your Facebook profile and then invite others to do the same. They fill out their company information and invite their friends. Eventually you can search your extended network for connections to companies for which you would like to work. Then you can ask for the direct connection.

Advertise Yourself Using Twitter

Getting known as a resource on Twitter is pretty straight forward. Simply discuss the topics relevant to your field and people will begin to find you nearly as soon as you post it. With Google’s real time search your comments are indexed almost instantly. All you have to do is join the conversation.

Hashtags is Twitter’s built-in bookmarking system you can use to get your comments out to a wider audience. By using the pound sign in front of a term, it creates a virtual bookmark others can use to find topics about that subject. For example, if you want to discuss your job search, you can use the hashtag #jobs. If you need help with your job search, you can use #jobhelp. There are many hashtags, so before using one do a search on it first. Make sure it's active or else you'll be the only one searching for it.

Active hashtags increase the chances someone will see your comments.

Make Professional Connections With Twitter

There are many ways to reach out to others via Twitter.

As you start sharing content with certain hashtags, pay attention to those users who are using that hashtag. If they contribute frequently, chances are they're someone you might want to get to know better. So talk to them!

You can also find specific people on Twitter by using twitter directories. One of the most common is WeFollow. You can search for users by hashtag or groups, such as recruiters. This is more of a cold call approach. It's best to ease into the conversation when engaging someone. It's better if you repeat (or “retweet”) their tweets for a while or comment on articles they share before directly trying to start a conversation. It's considered more polite that way.

Advertise Yourself Using LinkedIn

Since LinkedIn is specifically about making professional connections, this is the only network where every update you make can be about your profession. No one would think you're being fake or conceited. Share regularly, but keep in mind posting too frequently could cause people to disconnect from you.

There are also many professional groups with a LinkedIn presence. Join several groups related to your industry. Participate in conversations within the groups regularly. Being a member, but not contributing, does nothing for you. Social media is all about the conversation!

LinkedIn also allows you to share your slideshows, connect to your blog posts and share information on your business travels. All of these can work as an advertisement for who you are and what you do. Use them! Just make sure you're not breaking an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with any of those materials.

Making Professional Connections on LinkedIn

First, make sure you've filled out your complete job history. That's what will start you down the path of making connections with current and former co-workers. By making connections with these colleagues, you'll start building your network.

It's easy to get one of your primary connections to introduce you to one of their connections. But when you ask for a third-level connection (a colleague of a colleague's colleague) things start to get a little tricky. The more connections you make, the more likely you can get an introduction to a company where you would apply. By getting the introduction first, your resume can be moved to the top of the pile.

These days, when several hundred resumes are sent for every one position, that introduction can mean the difference between a call and your resume being overlooked.

Advertising Yourself on Google+

Google+ just came out this summer, but has already rocketed past 10 million users.It is a combination of Facebook and Twitter, with the main difference being privacy.

Using “Circles,” you can divide all of your followers into groups. So if you want to post something to your friends you simply send out your status update to that particular circle. No one else---including your co-workers, bosses and/or family members---will be able to see what you've posted. But even though that's a good way to make sure you don't have any notorious Facebook slip-ups regarding the posting of personal information, sometimes you do want to be seen.

By making your Google+ posts public or directing it to the appropriate circle, you can share content that would be interesting to members of your professional community. Look for conversations discussing your profession. Google's real time search also indexes Google+ conversations too. You can use that search to find conversations to join, and the more exposure you get the more you're advertising yourself.

Making Professional Connections on Google+

There are Google+ directories popping up every day. Unfortunately, while Google+ is still in beta, you may or may not find people high up in companies with whom to connect.

The good news is if you're in Google+ right now, it's because someone invited you. Check out your friend's friends. There isn't a requirement for new members to list their employer, but if they do (and if they give you access to it) you can see it.

Use the built-in search functions to see who you are connected with indirectly. You never know when a connection exists that may be useful to your search. Always ask for the introduction after you've discovered the connection.

Social Media Could Be the Key to Your Next Job

If you haven't started implementing a social media strategy into your job search, start now! Pick any social media site and jump in. Fill out your profile and start making connections because everything you do adds to your chances of finding that next job.

Also, if you want to use more than one, try to find a third-party application that lets you manage multiple sites from one tool. TweetDeck allows me to manage Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all from one place. There is no word on whether or not Google+ will be supported. If they don't support it, I'm sure some third-party app will come along that supports all four.

The biggest trick to social media is making it easy for you to manage. If you have to spend all day maintaining your social presence, you'll never have time to actually go on interviews.

Recommended Reading

(try an ebook)

Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0: How to Stand Out From the Crowd and Tap Into the Hidden Job Market Using Social Media

Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business

Social Networking for Career Success: How to Use Online Tools to Create a Personal Brand

The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-Start Your Business, Brand and Job Search

The Web 2.0 Job Finder: Winning Social Media Strategies to Get the Job You Want from Fortune 500 Hiring Pros

Highly Effective Networking: How to Meet the Right People and Get a Great Job

Find a Job Through Social Networking: Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and More to Advance Your Career

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