Many of us view social media as a way to keep up with the lives of old friends and family. That’s a pretty good use for it, right? But as social media has expanded, its potential as a resource for its users, especially professionally, has grown tremendously.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are just a few of the social media channels that, when used correctly, can improve your career.
Job seekers specifically can reap countless benefits from social media, including finding better jobs and becoming more visible to hiring managers.
However, we’ve all heard our fair share of horror stories when it comes to mixing social media and job searching.
For example, a friend of a friend gets a job offer rescinded when the hiring manager sees inappropriate behavior documented on his or her Facebook page. Or a hiring manager passes on an interview candidate after seeing a tweet that goes against the mission of their company.
Social media for job searching is a bit of science because, for every positive use of social media, there are several negative uses.
Whether you’re still job hunting or have moved onto the interview phase, knowing the dos and don’ts of social media can make or break your job search process.
Here are a few tips for using social media in your job search:
DO Use Social Media for:
1. Personal Branding
Did you know that more than half of hiring managers report using social media to screen applicants?
While it’s a bit nerve-wracking to think of hiring managers delving into your social profiles, it also allows you to use them in your favor by building a strong personal brand.
Build your brand by sharing posts and events that are relevant to your industry, connecting with industry leaders, and joining related groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. Always keep your profile image consistent with a professional photo across all the platforms.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram can all be used to optimize your brand and the hiring manager’s first impression of you.
2. Interview Research
By now, hopefully, you know not to go into an interview blind. A good interviewee will use the company website to learn about its history, values, and mission. It is also important to read up on the position you’re interviewing for using the job description and other resources such as Glassdoor.
Social media can be a great resource for interview research as well. Check out the company’s social media channels for added knowledge pre-interview. Which topics do they share most often? With which influencers are they involved?
An insider tip for using social media is to look up your interviewer’s profiles. If you know who your interviewer will be, come up with some basic conversational topics or common interests in case things get stale. Just a glance at a LinkedIn profile can be all you need.
3. Company Culture
Studies have found that happy employees are 12% more productive at work than those who are unhappy. Company culture is a huge factor in happiness. To make sure the company you are interested in will be a good fit for you, check out some of the current employees’ social profiles.
A quick LinkedIn search will show you a list of current employees. By viewing their profiles, you can find out how long they’ve been with the company. If employees are all brand new, it could be a sign of unhappiness among employees.
Look into the groups that employees follow on LinkedIn and your common connections. While you don’t need to be best friends, could these people be good coworkers for you?
DON’T Use Social Media for:
1. Controversial Conversations
When it comes to using social media for job searching, religion and politics are two topics it is best to steer clear of on public accounts. Unless, of course, you happen to work in either of those fields.
Hiring managers want to see that you can get along with your potential coworkers, regardless of their personal beliefs.
If you’re someone who is opinionated and likes to join in on conversations, focus your opinions on LinkedIn or Facebook group discussions relevant to your field.
Voicing your thoughtful, career-related opinions on discussion boards are a great way to get on the radar of industry leaders and hiring managers.
2. Stalking Hiring Managers
Remember before when we suggested a glance at a hiring manager’s profile? Well, there’s a fine line between reading up on common interests and learning their whole life story.
For example, friend-requesting a hiring manager on Facebook would not be appropriate, and could even hurt your chances of getting the job. You want to remain professional while showing that you are interested, but not desperate.
Showing up to the interview with a personalized gift for the hiring manager’s dog, Scruffy? Desperate.
3. A Static “About Me” Page
Just like your resume, your social profiles (especially LinkedIn) should grow and evolve with your work experience. To make sure your LinkedIn profile doesn’t become outdated, make a note to update it every month or so. You’ll be surprised by how many changes you can make!
The same goes for other social channels. Join in conversations as frequently as possible and keep up with your favorite websites for shareable posts a couple of times per week. This will help you connect with industry leaders and build your brand.
Do not feel the need to have an account with every social media outlet out there if you don’t have the time to manage them. It is better to have one or two profiles that are consistently being updated than to have several that are outdated.
When it comes to job searching, social media can help or it can hurt. It’s all in the way you use it. While there are countless ways social media can make you look unprofessional, when it is used for networking, personal branding, and research, it can only help you land the job you’ve been searching for.