5 ½ Social Media Tips for Job Seekers
With social media handing us 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 your interview?
When I was unemployed, I used to wish I could get paid to job search. It sure felt like a full-time job!
Cover letters, job listings, networking events...with all that time, energy, and sometimes money invested, you don't want a decision made against you before you even know you're being considered.
But that’s exactly what’s happening. With social media handing us the good, the bad, and the ugly within seconds, your carefully-crafted persona can get buried.
How can you help the hiring manager make the "right" decision–the one that leads to your interview?
Is this the message you're sending?
5 1/2 Social Media Tips for Job Seekers
1. Cyber-stalk yourself.
Google now, Google often. Sick of hearing about it? Google yourself anyway. The recruiter or hiring manager will. The few seconds it takes to type in your name are worth it, even if you think you've got nothing to hide. I've found myself listed on Spokeo and ZoomInfo with nary a word to me.
How do you fix unpleasant surprises? If it's on a site you don't control, try contacting the website administrator and asking them to remove the content. The length of time varies for Google to re-index the page, but soon that content will be hidden from search results (I can't vouch for the Wayback Machine, however).
If you can’t get the content removed, work on pushing your online positive presence. Posting quality content on other sites, setting up an About.me or WordPress account 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 search results.
2. Update your LinkedIn status (and your entire profile).
I like it when my LinkedIn profile shows up first in Google search results. Posting frequent status updates helps do that, with the added benefit of showing how present and engaged you are in your professional life. That’s a whole lot of win for relatively minimal effort.
Just be selective when posting: Make sure what you post is in line with your professional goals. This is a great opportunity to let people know about a project you're working on or a certification you’re pursuing, or something cool happening in your industry.
While you're there, optimize the rest of your profile. Lisa Dougherty's "16 Tips To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile And Enhance Your Personal Brand" is an excellent, comprehensive guide.
Just don't: Sound desperate. Leave off any variant of the “I need a job” tagline.
You probably don't want to look desperate, either.
3. Check your Facebook privacy.
Still on Facebook? Keep reading. It's easy to get caught up in all the fun stuff and forget that Facebook is a business designed to make money on you.
You may not be paying in actual currency, but you are paying in something arguably more priceless: Information. Both advertisers and your future employers are happy to take advantage.
So while you’re virtually toasting that new baby or posting that meme, take a moment to go through all of your privacy settings, including those on your photo albums. I made a Facebook Privacy Tutorial that is probably obsolete as I write this sentence, but try it or something similar for guidelines.
Also, consider separating business and personal contacts into Friends lists so you always know exactly who is reading what you post.
Now, you may not care what people think of you, and you may not want to work for an employer who would frown on certain activities, and that's entirely your prerogative. It's still good to be aware of the messages you're sending even when you're offline.
4. Watch what you tweet.
My dad always told me, “Don’t write anything you wouldn’t shout from the rooftops.” I am sure a lot of us have heard that from many sources. Now take that to Twitter.
For job search and career management, Twitter is bursting with resources and people eager to help you find your way, all day, every day. This platform is a great way to make new connections who in turn will lead you to even more connections.
Just be careful what you tweet in turn. Unless you protect your account or only tweet under pseudonyms, everyone can see everything you’ve ever posted--just take a look at 30 Tweets That Will Make You Lose Your Job!
Also, monitor your followers: If you see a recruiter following you, invest some care in your tweets. ResumeBear (now Tavorro) has noted that recruiters can set up RSS feeds of keywords to help screen out potential candidates.
5. Build your brand, inside and out.
Help someone out in a LinkedIn Group. Start a blog with posts related to your industry or career. Join other professional online communities and become an active part of their forums. Sign up on career-building websites and become a mentor.
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.
Then what? (Here's the 1/2:)
Social media is only one part of your career efforts. You need to balance all your hard work offline as well. When you attend that live networking event or local meet-up that contains people from your online communities, challenge yourself to take your connections to the next level.
Just hangin' out.
Remember, every time you talk to someone online or off, stranger or friend, you’re involved in 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.
When you pay attention to how you use social media, your next job could be just a connection away.
What's helped you turn your job search into a job?
--Disclaimer and attributions--
Adapted and updated from my post on the myPathfinder Career Blog and later on LinkedIn.
I'm not a career or a job search expert, I've just got a background in them. I post about things that have worked for me and what I've seen work for others in the hope that these experiences will help. I attempt to blog for real here.