The job market is tough. No doubt about it. Even though there have been some modest gains in the number of jobs available, more jobs are going to part-time or contract workers than ever, which has led a lot of people to give up, leave the workforce, or take jobs they’re overqualified for. That said, a bad economy doesn’t mean that you can’t set yourself apart, and one of the best channels that traditional job-seekers aren’t using is social media.
You probably know the basic rules of social media for job seekers – don’t post photos of you and your friends getting drunk, set up a personal website, grab a LinkedIn account, etc. – but do you know how to go the extra mile? Everybody does the minimum, but if you truly want to attract employers, you’ll have to put in a little extra effort. Here are 4 tips for getting employers to chase you down on social media:
1. Figure out who’s hiring and what keywords they’re using
Because of the massive number of resumes that many companies receive, human resources departments have started to use keywords to filter out candidates before a human ever touches their application. What many people don’t know is that these keywords are also among the things employers will use when searching for candidates on social media (especially LinkedIn).
So how can you figure out the keywords you should use, and how can you use them to your advantage?
First, find some jobs that you’d like to be considered for, and head down to the “Qualifications” section of the job listing. Employers will usually include a list of key skills or proficiencies that they expect applicants to have.
Next, save all these keywords and phrases into a spreadsheet, and then repeat the process for a number of similar job listings. This will help you determine which key skills employers are most often looking for, and how you can present your skills on social media in the most beneficial way possible.
Finally, update all your profiles with the keywords you most want to highlight. This includes your personal website, blog, Facebook profile, Twitter account, etc. The more profiles you use, the better your chances are that someone out there looking for their next employee will see it.
An important note here: don’t lie about your skills. If every job listing you find demands that applicants know how to use Photoshop, but you’ve never opened the program before, it will hurt you in the long run if you lie about it on social media (just like it would hurt you on a resume). The better option would be to take a Photoshop class or buy a good book on the topic.
2. Take full advantage of LinkedIn
Now that you’ve got a feel for the skills that employers in your field are looking for, you can start to advertise them. LinkedIn’s skills are a great way to start (see above for finding the best skills for your industry), but there’s more you can do.
First, be sure your profile is complete and up to date. I know, this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to update their LinkedIn profiles regularly.
Next, start actively seeking out recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers in your industry. Connect with them if you can or follow them. Also, if you are going to connect with people you don’t know on LinkedIn, please tell them why you want to get to know them professionally. Don’t just use the canned message that LinkedIn gives you by default (it’s something like, “I’d like to add you to my professional network…”). Recruiters – and people like me – hate that.
Third, start giving recommendations. Don’t just ask people for them – that’s annoying, desperate, and selfish – but you’ll quickly find that by offering them on your own, most people will respond with a recommendation for you, plus it makes you look like a nice guy or girl, and that’s always good when you’re looking for a job.
Finally, get involved in some groups. There are thousands of professionally driven groups that allow you to connect with professionals in your industry or your part of the country. Join them, and more importantly, get active. Post replies to discussions or your own discussions if you’re able, but don’t just spam everyone with plea’s to give you a job. Remember, you want them to chase you down, not the other way around.
3. Use Twitter to get to know the people behind the company
LinkedIn is far from the only social network that employers use to recruit candidates. More than half are now using Twitter to find and connect with candidates. It’s easy to find companies and employees on Twitter, and once you start interacting with people there, it’s pretty easy to let them know what you’re all about.
First, search for people in your target industry and area. A good way to do this is to find a company’s official Twitter handle (for example, @Trulia), and then run a Twitter people search for that handle. You’ll see the company account, and maybe some other accounts and then eventually, you’ll find people who work for the company. These are the people you want to notice you, so be sure you’re following them.
Next, get to know them. Many will have their own blogs or will post out links to interesting articles in your industry. Interact with them, ask questions, respond to theirs, but don’t get too annoying. You just want to make sure they know you’re a fan of their company and what they do.
Finally, get to know them in real life if you can. I took a trip to New York City one time and met with around a dozen people I had only connected with on Twitter and email up to that point. It was a lot of fun, and I felt like our networking bond got a lot stronger.
4. Take advantage of Facebook’s features
It may be the largest social network in the world, but a lot of people still don’t think about using it for professional networking. That’s a good thing though, because it means you will have the upper hand when it comes to getting employers to chase you down.
Before you get started, make sure your Facebook is professional. Untag and remove incriminating photos, delete those drunk statuses you posted about your ex girlfriend, and check your privacy settings.
Next, take advantage of Facebook’s graph search to find people in your network who work in the industry you’re targeting. For example, if you wanted to see who you might be able to connect with at Coca-Cola, you can search, “My friends of friends who work at Coca-Cola.” This will bring up secondary connections so you can see who within your friend network knows someone at a company you might want to work for. This is much like LinkedIn’s connections feature, but a lot of people don’t think to use it like this.
Finally, subscribe to or send friend requests to people you’d like to know. Personally, I like the subscribe feature as it lets me watch their public activity without forcing them to say they know me directly. Either way, it’s likely that they’ll check out your profile because of it, and if you did a good job letting people know you’re looking for a job, you’ll be on their radar.
In short, getting employers to chase you down takes time and effort
Just because you ultimately want people to offer you jobs online doesn’t mean it’s going to happen overnight. You have to do the hard work that makes it easy for them to find you, and you have to keep it up. Just creating a profile won’t do you much good if you never contribute any content, so be productive while you are between jobs and build a reputation that employers can’t resist.
Photo credit: Michael Kötter.