Don’t you wish your job search was a paid position? Whether you’re printing personal business cards, going to networking events or pursuing your MBA, you’re investing your time, energy and money to stay marketable in an employer’s market. Job search doesn’t end when the sun goes down, when you’re worn out or you’ve got a cold coming on. The last thing you want is for a decision to be made against you before you even knew you were being considered.
But that’s exactly what’s happening. Potential employers can find out everything about you the moment your resume lands on their desk. With social media handing them the good, the bad and the ugly within seconds, how can you help the hiring manager make the right decision–the one that leads to an interview?
Social Media Tips for Job Seekers
1. Cyber-stalk yourself.
Google now, Google often. Sick of hearing about it? Google yourself anyway. You can bet the recruiter or hiring manager will. Even if you think you’ve got nothing to hide, the two seconds it’ll take to type in your name is worth it for peace of mind. And if there are any nasty surprises, you don’t want the employer to find out about them before you do.
How do you fix mistakes? If something you posted isn’t on a site you control, try contacting the website administrator and ask them to remove the content. Within a week or two, that unmentionable will be gone.
If you can’t get the content removed, here’s where you have to do a little virtual legwork to “eliminate undesirables,” as Brian Croxall says in How to Google Yourself Effectively and What To Do About It. Posting quality content on other sites, buying a domain with your name and creating a Google Profile are just three of the things you can do to push the undesirables out of your top 10 and out of sight.
2. Update your LinkedIn status.
Frequent updates to that little status box not only show you’re staying connected and monitoring your profile, but that you’re actively engaged in your professional life. Plus, all this activity helps drive your LinkedIn profile higher up your top ten in Google search results. That’s a whole lot of win for minimal effort!
But you don’t necessarily want to update your followers with every single thing. Be selective: Make sure what you post is in line with your professional goals. This is a great opportunity to let people know about a class you’re taking, a certification you’re pursuing, a project you’re working on or an industry-related link you want to share.
Whatever you do, don’t sound desperate, cautions NewGradLife’s article, Your LinkedIn Status Bar: Tips for Job Seekers. Show that you’re keeping up to date in your field, but leave off the “I need a job” or “Any help would be appreciated” taglines.
3. Check your Facebook privacy.
With everyone and their grandma on Facebook these days, it’s easy to get caught up in finding old friends and sharing memories and forgetting that Facebook is a business that wants to make money on you. Your information is priceless to their advertisers – and to your future employers.
So while you’re virtually toasting that new baby, take a moment to check your privacy (Account > Privacy Settings), including your photo album settings. “If you mix personal and business contacts in your Facebook account,” writes Celine Roque in How to Navigate Through Facebook’s New Privacy Settings, you may want to go a step further and separate your connections into Friends lists as well.
Facebook may seem like your personal sandbox but that won’t stop employers from using it if you’ve left the cover off. If you really have to post that picture of you, the leprechaun mascot and the beer pong semi-finals on St. Patrick’s Day, don’t you owe it to yourself to make sure only people you trust can see it?
4. What happens on Twitter stays on Twitter.
My dad always told me, “Don’t write anything you wouldn’t shout from the rooftops.” This goes double for Twitter, job seekers.
For job search and career management, Twitter is bursting with resources and people eager to help you find your way, all day, every day. Just as with LinkedIn, Twitter is a great way to make new connections who in turn will lead you to even more connections. It’s the golden networking equation: Everybody you meet has a job or knows somebody who has a job, and jobs mean companies, and companies mean hiring opportunities.
Just be careful what you tweet in turn. Unless you protect your account or have a fake username, everyone can see everything you’ve ever posted. This means hiring managers and recruiters. Monitor your followers: If you see a recruiter is following you, invest some care in your tweets. In ResumeBear’s 30 Ways to Lose a Job on Twitter, one recruiter set up RSS feeds of keywords to help screen out potential candidates.
5. Build your brand.
Answer a question on LinkedIn Q&A. Start a blog with posts related to your industry or career. Join a professional online community like Toolbox.com and become an active part of their forums. Sign up on career-building websites and become a mentor to others.
What’s all this got in common? With any one of these, you’re showing potential employers how experienced you are, what skills you have, how you interact with others and what others think of you.
You need to “look at your personal brand as an investment,” per wikiHow’s How to Build Your Personal Brand. “Set goals for your public image. Because your personal brand is built from the thoughts and words and reactions of other people, it’s shaped by how you present yourself publicly.”
Think of the employer sifting through job applicants to find someone who fits their company culture. Your online reputation could be priceless.
6. Don’t forget the “real” world.
So you’ve got a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook account and Twitter followers. You actively chat with others in your career field and you’re building a reputation as someone who likes to help people in your industry. Now what?
Get outside. Social media is only one part of the job-searching, career-building equation; you need to balance all your hard work offline as well! When you go to that live networking event or local meet-up for your online community, challenge yourself to take your connections to the next level. “The definition of networking involves building relationships that are mutually beneficial,” writes Debbie Langford in I’ve Met New People by Networking…Now What?, “so you should be purposeful about your follow-up with the individuals you meet. What would compel you to reach out to someone you met at a networking event?”
Remember, every time you talk to someone online or off, stranger or friend, you’re networking. With social media leading the way, your next job can be that next connection away.