Using Social Media for a Job Search

    Using social media websites is now one of the most effective ways to connect with others. These sites are used not only for personal connections, but also are increasingly used for professional networking.

    Social media sites make it cheap and easy for employers to advertise job openings – and just as easy for job-seekers to find their next career.

    Social media is a combination of computer software and the Internet that permits “anyone without knowledge of coding, to post, comment on, share or mash up content and to form communities around shared interests,” according to blogger and communications expert Joseph Thornley.

    Social media also can shift the dynamic of communication from one-way to two-way or multi-way. In the case of a job search, social media can allow job-seekers to post questions to fellow job-seekers or to job posters about the available position.

    Through sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others, communication through social media is more like a conversation and less like a notice pinned on a bulletin board.

    Users may be unemployed and looking for work, or be seeking a better job to help them pay off their debt.

    Job Boards Give Way to Social Media

    It’s been years since companies began using the Internet to market job opportunities. They could quickly post a job description, along with salary and retirement plan information, and reach many job-seekers in the process.

    Job boards such as CareerBuilder and Monster used to be the best options for employers and job-seekers alike. But they slowly gave way to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Digg and others. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the dominant social media players in the culture.

    Using Facebook for a Job Search

    Created in the dorm room of Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, Facebook now allows users to develop their own network with whom to share personal news, photos, videos and interact with people in and out of their network.

    As users build up their personal network – of relatives, friends, acquaintances, current and former co-workers and anyone they desire – they also extend their reach when they ask for news regarding a job search.

    Small businesses and large corporations also have Facebook pages on which they advertise employment opportunities. If a Facebook user “likes” a company, he or she is more apt to see news about open jobs at the company if the business publicizes it on Facebook.

    Facebook became a publicly traded company in May 2012, and it estimates that it will have 1 billion users by the end of 2012.

    Using LinkedIn to Find a Job

    LinkedIn is a business person’s version of Facebook. Founded in the living room of Reid Hoffman in 2002 and launched in 2003, LinkedIn is older than Facebook but took time to innovate and develop.

    Still, it is the world’s largest professional networking site, linking 161 million members in 200 countries. More than 2 million companies use LinkedIn as a professional networking tool to employ job seekers and market new careers.

    Like Facebook, users ask other professionals to join their network. Users also can join network “groups” – full of other similar professionals. These groups share tips, anecdotes and job postings. When someone in a user’s network makes an update to his or her resume on the site – say, to highlight a promotion or a position with a new company – everyone in the network can be notified.

    Users can instantly alert members of their network if they are in the job market and what positions they might want. Like Facebook, an individual’s reach can be exponential because of the personal and group networks.

    Using Twitter for a Job Search

    The social media site and microblog Twitter was launched in July 2006. Unlike Facebook, where users have “friends,” and LinkedIn, where people have “connections,” users of Twitters have “followers” and they “follow” other people. Following someone – or some company – on Twitter allows one to read, in 140 characters or less, an update from that other someone.

    Followers are designed by an @ symbol and utilize hashtags (#) to communicate with their followers.

    In terms of searching for a job, Twitter may not be the optimum medium. However, someone who develops a large following – several thousand people – can quickly get the word out about needing a job. But the Twitter universe is so instant and so rapid that it may be necessary to get the word out multiple times over a period of days, weeks and months.

    Using Social Media to Get a Job

    Although creating a profile, uploading a resume and finding new connections may be more work than typing a desired position into the search box on a job board, it is becoming a more effective way of landing a new career.

    On Monster or CareerBuilder, the search results are broad and impersonal. Not only does a single search bring up thousands of jobs in the desired category, but it doesn’t allow the employer to search for candidates.

    On LinkedIn, employers can find the right person to fill their open positions by reading profiles, resumes and other pertinent information that cannot be found on a job board.

    The benefits of LinkedIn can carry over to job boards, as well. The job board Simply Hired has a section labeled “Who Do I Know,” which searches LinkedIn contacts for matches with the company that is hiring. This tool helps job-seekers identify contacts who could give them the upper hand in landing a job.

    Social networking should be looked at as an art form. Creating a profile is much like creating an advertisement for oneself.

    Remember:
    • Always cater to the audience.
    • The profile should be professional, no matter which site is being used.
    • Anything that is on the site should be something that would attract a hiring manager.

    One of the best advantages of these sites is the ability to make a personal connection with the employer. Instead of just reading a resume, it is now easy for employers to get a better idea of the person on another level.

    There is more opportunity to talk about:
    • Special skills
    • Qualifications
    • Certifications and
    • Future goals.

    Researching on these sites is another way job-seekers can benefit from social media. Before creating a profile, the sites of target employers and hiring managers can be researched — and the job-seeker’s profile can be set up to complement what they are looking for in an employee.

    It all comes down to not just what you know, but who you know. Social media sites give the job seeker the opportunity to connect on the personal level that has become almost impossible since the launch of job boards. Companies don’t want applicants walking in their front door as much as they do popping up in their inbox.

    With the number of users rising daily on social media sites, it is clear the best way to create a personal connection is to appeal to the needs listed on the companies’ websites, and apply them to your profile. Reaching out to networking groups and employers by sending a personal message or making a connection via a social media website can give you the extra push you need to land the job.

    Making Professional Connections

    Social media can get job-seekers closer to employers. However, it is important to remember that information on these sites generally is public information. Facebook is mostly used for personal connections, but employers and hiring managers may look at profiles to get a better sense of the job candidates.

    Pictures and status updates can say a lot about a person. A big mistake made on social websites is slamming current employers. That goes over poorly with hiring managers.

    When a professional connection is made between an employer and a job-seeker, both should take a safe approach to meeting in person. Even though LinkedIn is a social media site for professionals, caution is still important.

    Social networking has combined old school tactics with new technology to allow job seekers to connect with employers without a face-to-face encounter.

    Recruiters, companies, hiring managers and job-seekers are turning to social media to find their desired target. Making connections, and researching profiles, resumes and qualifications has never been easier.

    Social media can bring job-seekers closer to their dream job, but more importantly, give employers the ability to feel a connection with candidates. It’s an opportunity for both parties to feel like they have a personal bond, rather than just through another application in their inbox.

    Al Krulick

    Al is an award-winning journalist with dozens of years of writing experience. He served as a drama critic, high school teacher, arts administrator, theatrical producer and director. He also dabbled in politics, running twice for a seat on the U.S. House of Representatives for Florida. Al is a Certified Debt Specialist with the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators and specializes in real estate, credit and bankruptcy advice.

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