If you’re not using social media to help you land your next job, you’re not getting on the radar of recruiters and hiring managers. It’s becoming the new job search secret — 37 percent of employers currently use social media to research job candidates, and an additional 11 percent plan to start doing this in the future. Now, more than ever, recruiters are relying on social media sites to help round out the candidate search in addition to perusing resumes and cover letters.
Here are five sites you need to be on now and real-life experience on how they can help or deter your next career move:
LinkedIn is the bread and butter for hiring managers and recruiters. Since it focuses on your professional history, it’s a live resume that many people see. Fill out your profile completely and get quality connections. If you have more than 50 connections, your profile moves up in the LinkedIn algorithm to be on the radar of like-minded people, companies, and most importantly, those companies that are hiring.
Get recommended. Don’t be afraid to request a recommendation from a former boss. Have those who have worked with you, or even your friends who know how hard you work, endorse you for your skills and expertise. This section is incredibly visible on your profile and shows recruiters that those endorsing you stand behind your work.
Remember, don’t use family photos, photos of kids, pets etc. Use the most professional picture you have. And use social media indirectly. When sending out emails to prospective employers, hotlink your LinkedIn page in your email signature.
While many people still view Facebook as a social interaction tool to use with friends, do not discount its use by recruiters. So set it up right. First, set your privacy settings as needed. Even if your settings are set to the max, never bad-mouth a previous employer or boss. While it’s understandable if you’re enraged of unfair treatment, updating your status with negative words regarding your boss won’t fix the problem, and potentially could be the catalyst of a larger problem – you may not get hired because of your poor choices on social media.
Secondly, assume anything you write can somehow be tracked. CNet writes about a 24-year-old educator, Ashley Payne, who lost her job because she posted a photo of herself holding a beer and a glass of wine. With privacy parameters getting more ambiguous, it’s best to be overly cautious.
Facebook also utilizes a Skype-like video tool that can potentially connect you with recruiters, much like using a live chat service would work. Think of how many points you could score with a tech-savvy recruiter when you say “I have time later at 6pm for a Facebook video chat. Can you do the interview then?” That would show your familiarity not only with Facebook, but also with being interviewed on video.
Remember, many users are friends with co-workers on Facebook. I had a colleague say to me, “Looks like Josh had a fun weekend based on his Facebook pics.” That same weekend my company had a mandatory work event where he called in sick. He wasn’t fired at that moment, but that was one of the many strikes against him that led to his termination.
Twitter continues to adapt and grow. You can use Twitter to track topics and trends, follow companies you want to work for, and see discussions around certain job topics. If you want to use Twitter more personally with your friends, create an additional account — one for personal tweets and one for professional — so those you’re connected with professionally won’t see your tweets about nights out with your friends.
Remember, never follow a potential boss/colleague unless you are comfortable with them reading your previous tweets. Before my interview with the VP of Marketing at a Fortune 500 company, I followed her on Twitter and looked at her previous Tweets. I was able to garner many talking points that would connect us on a personal and professional level. I also looked at whom she followed. One of her questions to me was “Who is your favorite person to follow on Twitter?” I responded with a person I knew she followed and gave good reasons, favorite tweets, funny stories, etc. I could tell she was impressed that we shared a discerning taste in professional figures in social media. After our conversation she said, “I think you would fit in very well here”.
About.me is a beautiful splash page that quickly gives recruiters a snap shot of who you are and how you’re connected socially. Upload a professional picture, create an attention-grabbing headline, write a memorable paragraph on your professional background, and share what social networks you’re on.
Remember, assume that recruiters will look at every social network you list at your About.me page. If you have a social blog that’s more BuzzFeed than Mashable, don’t list it. Albeit it can be subjective to the sector you work like journalism, marketing, or PR where this may be appropriate.
Watch this clip for some insights into why everything about you doesn’t always have to be public:
Blogs are helpful to recruiters because it gives them an opportunity see different facets: your writing style, your creativity and what subjects interest you. It fills out your world for them. Being a blogger can also prove you have your finger on the pulse of a fast-changing social medium where your blog’s success is based on intriguing content, quantity of posts and loyal readers.
People are still blogging, using platforms like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and others. If you are passionate about a subject, try blogging. If it’s not relevant to your ultimate job search, then you might want to diminish it in your social sharing with a recruiter.
Remember, if you’re not dedicated to updating a blog with new content, don’t do it. There is nothing worse than looking at a candidate’s blog that hasn’t featured fresh content in months.
Social Media – Make It or Break It
When I was hiring interns at a glossy lifestyle magazine, I took two minutes to read their resume to make sure they hit the major qualifications and I spent 10 minutes to peruse their Twitter and Facebook accounts to see what kind of person they were, and if they would fit into the company’s culture. While a young person’s discerning character and ambition cannot be taught at a first office job, their job performance can. I would much rather hire someone with little experience but with good judgment and discretion, than someone with two years experience who doesn’t know where to draw the line with social media posts.
Brian Honigman is the Digital Marketing Executive at Marc Ecko Enterprises. He is a part of Ecko’s marketing and e-commerce team, ensuring a polished brand experience across all channels. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHonigman.