There’s a lot of advice out there that talks about the best ways to use social media for help with your job search. But not all of the “you must do this” suggestions are going to get you to your real goal – an actual job.
So I’d like to help you sort through some of the plentiful advice – and perhaps clue you in to some things you may not know about using social media as a job search tool.
What you need to know about social media
If you’re looking for information about EACH type of social media tool, you can find that here. But before you check that out, please take a little time to read about some aspects of social media that may make a difference in how effectively you use them for job search.
How much time you spend on social media vs. other things
The thing about social media is that it’s very addictive and very fond of itself. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think social media offers us truly amazing ways to learn and communicate – and to get our names out there.
But I’ve noticed way too many articles that make it seem like all the answers to your job search problems can be found through using more social media. It’s just not true. Using it more wisely – maybe true. But many of the things you need to do are not found online.
And so it’s good to take a moment to check how much time you are sitting and staring at a screen versus other things you might be doing to network and find jobs, like volunteering (also good for your resume), meeting with people for informational interviews, attending networking events in person, taking classes or participating in workshops (especially in person), etc.
Don’t forget the in-person aspects of job search
In-person networking is an extremely effective job search tool.
Of course, you can find great leads for people and organizations online – and social media can certainly help get you there. But just check to see that you aren’t spending so much time home alone, just you and your social media (what did Justin Bieber do now?), that you forget to generate that special energy of meeting in person.
I’ve even met potential contacts just standing in line at a supermarket and engaging in a friendly chat. While these things can happen online too – and I encourage you to find ways to do that effectively – please try to balance it with getting yourself out where you can connect in person, too.
Oh … and speaking of time you spend on things, once you find jobs to apply for, don’t forget to spend enough time targeting your resume and cover letter to the specific job. Job seekers sometimes spend hours and hours a day using social media for job search and everything else, and then send a general resume and cover letter, basically undoing all their job search efforts.
How much you rely on social media advice
Following up on my last point, social media experts offer a lot of good advice, but there are also a lot of people writing articles just to make waves and get traffic. Not every article is steering you right. And quite often you get sucked into doing less-than-useful things they tell you to do, when you can be using your time in better ways, even online.
As a general rule, if you’re being told to spend many many hours tweeting for jobs or re-working every angle of your LinkedIn profile, you’re probably being led astray. These social media tools can certainly help if used wisely (a strong LinkedIn profile is a good idea), but they aren’t THE answer. So use them in a targeted way and in proportion to your other efforts.
Search for yourself online
One of the first things you should do when you start a job search – and even before – is to put your full name into a search engine (try nicknames too), and see what comes up. Some of you may have done that already, but for those who haven’t, try it.
It’s something an employer or potential coworker may do, and even more likely a recruiter or HR person, especially if you’re a finalist for the job. And for employers who use background checking companies, this is a given.
Now if you don’t show up anywhere, I don’t want you to think that no employer will hire you. Some articles warn you about the “dangers” of not being found online. The importance of your presence on social media may be vastly overstated, although I think a LinkedIn profile is probably a good thing for every career person. (We’ll talk about that a little later.)
What if you do find something bad about yourself?
If you show up with something nasty you wrote in a comment or some photo on Facebook you wish you had never posted or anything an employer might see as a negative, this is good for you dig into and to find out more about – and remove what you can.
Posts can last a long time on the internet even after you’ve removed them because of caching (old versions retained), and because others may have borrowed these things. So do your best to remove what you can asap.
And if there is something negative you can’t do anything about, this may be a great time for you to make sure you do have a LinkedIn profile with your full name (LinkedIn has strong ranking so it may show up first).
You can also create a positive personal blog that might counter anything else out there. Hopefully, this is not something you even have to worry about.
Some caution about making your online resume public
I just want to add a note of caution about displaying too much personal information online. Not only might a current employer find out (if that’s even a concern), but there are identity thieves who just love the details.
Most resume-posting sites (like Monster.com) will offer you privacy options, including one where you only show a partial view and then send the full resume with contact info if asked.
Privacy options might be useful if you have more than one version of your resume out there. You don’t want to seem like you’re wishy-washy about what you want to do, even if you are!