12 ways to use social media to get a job
Only use social media to share pictures of your lunch, keep tabs on exes and update everyone on Celeb Big Brother? If so, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
Twitter, Facebook, LinkenIn, and even Instagram, can be used to a far more productive means: If you play your cards right, you could be a few tweets away from landing yourself a great job. Now that's a status update worth posting (and guaranteed to get you loads of likes).
We can't imagine a time when the job market won't be incredibly competitive, and graduates are having to get more and more creative in order to get noticed.
A few of years ago one man took to the platforms of Waterloo Station to hand out his CV; another decided to advertise his personal website on a massive billboard in London (and, predictably, was left even more broke as a result!).
We're not saying you have to undertake such drastic measures in order to get on a company's payroll, but jazzing up your online presence – and getting smart with what you post online – will enable you to totally up your game and end up #winning in the dog-eat-dog job hunt.
Top tips on using social media to get a job
Get a grip on privacy settings
According to the recent poll by job-hunt.org, as much as 80% of employers will partake in some Googling of job applicants when sifting through applications. And let's be honest – there's little worse than getting to a job interview only to find out they've seen that picture of you necking a bottle of absinthe in the buff.
Now – this doesn't necessarily mean that you should completely censor yourself on the web. Interestingly, the same poll also found that if employers can't find any solid trace of you online (a LinkedIn profile, for example), they won't invite you for interview!
However, if you're using your social accounts for behaviour you'd rather they didn't know about, make sure you take steps to restrict it to you and your friends' eyes only by tweaking your privacy settings.
A tip to see how you fair in the eyes of a nosey employer is to Google yourself! Put your email address and/or name into Google, and see what comes up.
You can also track yourself down on Facebook by entering your email address into the search bar (just make sure you're not logged in already, otherwise the exercise is a bit pointless).
No matter how strict your privacy settings, people will always be able to see your Facebook profile picture and cover photo, so make sure these are respectable.
Develop your online 'brand'
You need to decide exactly what you're looking for out of your social networks. For example, if you want to be a journalist, an awesome idea would be to create a simple website or blog showcasing your work, as this is the ideal way to market yourself online. You'll be happy to hear you can build a basic website easily in less than 20 minutes!
From here, you'll be able to link frantically to your finest pieces on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We'd mention Google+, but this can be like shouting in an empty room, to be honest.
Try to post and share content that reflects the industry you want to break into. Also, don't be afraid to blow your own trumpet! A LinkedIn page is awesome for this, as it allows you to list your skills, endorsements and recommendations from people you've worked with in the past.
Engage in conversation
Following and liking companies/people you want to impress is something you should be doing as a given. But very rarely will this result in them approaching you with an opportunity (although it does happen occasionally).
There's always loads of interesting discussions going on across social media concerning every industry. Even if you're looking to get into a pretty niche area – such as the preservation of lawnmowers manufactured in the 1920s – there's probably something for you.
Keep an eye on debates by setting Google alerts for key topics, search hashtags on Twitter and look for industry-relevant groups on Facebook and LinkedIn – and that's just to get you started!
Engaging in these debates, and doing your research to make sure you know your stuff, is a surefire way to impress. Make sure your comments are articulate, well thought out, considerate of others (nobody likes a bully – or a smart a**!) and written in perfect English.
Posting relevant articles you find interesting, and keeping up with the sorts of developments and challenges your industry is facing is also excellent preparation for any upcoming job interviews.
As your followers and reputation begins to grow online, who wouldn't want to hire you?
Create an online CV or portfolio
An online portfolio is a great way of giving potential employers the opportunity to get a detailed picture of you with just one click.
As mentioned, you could start a website to showcase your work or list your achievements in detail on your LinkedIn profile. Or, you could go a step further by offering something fancy like a YouTube video or an online infographic.
Whatever you choose, make it look professional, try to do something a bit different and link back to it from every social media channel you own! You never know who might come across it.
Another advantage is that LinkedIn uses keywords from your CV in order to generate job opportunities, and recommend you for certain positions to companies looking for candidates. That means your pursuit of gainful employment can continue even in your sleep!
Be a 'real' person
Developing yourself as an online brand doesn't mean you should become so self-aware that you become devoid of all sense of humour and personality.
Stay professional, but also try to show you're an interesting person who people would want to spend time in the office with! Being likeable is also a massive pull factor in the recruitment process, so try to keep this in mind.
Your life doesn't stop outside your Facebook timeline, and shared interests will make you memorable to boot.
Don't look desperate
Using social networks to find a job is the aim of the game, but you don't want to appear totally desperate for any job going. A constant stream of "please hire me" tweets will reflect negatively on you, and drown out any intelligent discussions you may have had previously.
The key is to put yourself out there as a proactive and knowledgable person, keeping an eye on opportunities and engaging directly with relevant people along the way.
If you're trying to get your foot in the door, try something inventive. Pitching an idea, story or project that would be of interest to the company is a great tactic, and demonstrates you're a self-starter.
Try to take things offline
If you do manage to build up a good discussion with someone online, try to take it offline so you make a more lasting impression.
The internet can be anonymous in such a way that it's easy to forget someone who has impressed you fairly quickly.
Proposing you meet up for a quick coffee to discuss some ideas is always a good (and not as creepy as it sounds) way in.
Find out the insider gossip
OK, OK, we only used the word gossip to lure you in. But it's worth thinking about the fact that, just as recruiters can spy on you via social networks, you can spy on them too.
Find out what areas they're specifically interested in, what they've been working on lately, or any other nuggets of info you can glean from their channels. It'll work wonders in interviews. You're interested in the same stuff? Well I never!
Remember to use this tip responsibly, otherwise you could come across a bit stalkerish. Asking them about the three kids they've never mentioned, a company they previously worked for, or whether they enjoyed the paella they had for lunch last week – could send them running for the hills.
There's no point in keeping all your great chat to yourself! On LinkedIn and Facebook, you can join groups or pages that are related to your career interests, and some of these groups even post job opportunities or shout outs looking for new candidates.
As mentioned earlier, try and make use of hashtags on twitter – both in searching for discussions but also posting on relevant topics. This allows your posts to be searchable to recruiters and can also bag you some influential followers.
Avoid cliched buzzwords
Are you an enthusiastic, committed individual who's really passionate about what they do? If the answer is yes, then your bio reads the same as everyone else's!
Don't just go for the conventional when referencing yourself; add a little creativity, originality and flair – talk about what you specifically find interesting or intriguing. You really like bumblebees? Whatever your jam, go tell 'em kiddo.
A classic lesson on this comes from The Apprentice, where a candidate was asked to describe themselves without using a cliche.
They replied: "Well Lord Sugar, I'm exactly what it says on the tin."
Thankfully, unlike going to the gym, you can achieve this kind of activity by sitting on your bum. Put simply, there's no point signing up to social media sites if you don't use them very often.
If you have multiple barren social channels going on that are full of tumbleweeds, that can even give a negative impression – it might look like you're not great at committing to a goal or that you get bored easily. A classic example is a blog where every post begins with a sentence like "Sorry it's been so long since my last post…".
Think outside the box
While we wouldn't suggest signing up to every single social network just for the sake of it, there is a world outside Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Picking out a few different tools and using them well can really make you stand out. Perhaps you could make a portfolio of your work on Instagram or Pinterest?
All are worthwhile considerations. Just resist the urge to start posting pictures of kittens and babies incessantly.
Do you have any social networking top tips that we've failed to mention? Found a new social network we're going to fall in love with? Make sure you let us know!