In 2015, social media is a vital part of the job search process. Almost every employer will Google you and find your social media profiles, but you, too, can proactively use social media to your benefit: to land interviews, get contact info, and do much, much more.
Of course, there is a right way and wrong way to use social media in the job search.
First, Let’s Talk About the Wrong Way to Use Social Media
The biggest things you want to avoid are pretty obvious: don’t post evidence of drug and alcohol use on your social media sites; don’t broadcast politically incorrect statements; don’t share negative comments about previous or potential employers. If you want to be really safe, you should get rid of anything you would not be comfortable with your boss seeing.
During your job search, you want to think of your social media presence as a part of your job application.
If you really feel the need to express yourself, you can do what my friend Karene does and change your real social media profile’s privacy settings to private. Then, create a “work” social media profile that is public.
Use Social Media to Make Connections
Once you’ve eliminated the threats from your social media profiles, it’s time to start using social media to reach out to potential employers.
I always recommend starting off by creating and following a list of companies you’d like to interview with.
You want to study each company’s social media presence. This will tell you a lot about what’s important to these companies. Some companies, like the U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer, use humor in their social media presences; other companies highlight their philanthropic efforts. Try to figure out the brand of each company you are interested in and what the company seems to consider important.
The next thing you might want to do is look for contact information. A lot of very important people — especially the kind of people who make hiring decisions — don’t like to put their email addresses on the Internet for everyone to find. This can be annoying for you as the job seeker. Luckily, almost all of these people have their social media contact information somewhere on their corporate websites.
Once you’ve found a person’s social media information, you want to write a simple and complimentary introduction message.
Recently, I recommended that my friend Joanne reach out to a woman whose company she wanted to interview with by complimenting the woman on a recipe she had posted to her personal blog — a recipe that Joanne had made and loved. Joanne got an interview the very next week.
Now, Let’s Talk About How to Use Social Media to Get Interviews
Let’s assume that you have already turned in a resume and that you’ve tailored that resume to the company you want to work for, based on the information you gathered from the company’s social media presence. Let’s also assume that you’ve already made contact with at least one person at the company — even if it was just an exchange of thank yous.
Now you want to find the most senior person whose social media information is listed publicly and message them to say that you really love the company’s brand. Give specific examples of what you like about it — the more specific, the better.
Next, tell the person you have put in an application but you haven’t heard back yet. Make it clear that you are not asking for an interview necessarily; rather, tell them that you’d like to know if you are not going to get an interview, and if not, you were hoping they could offer a few sentences of feedback on what you could do better next time.
Quite often you will get either an immediate interview or some very specific invaluable feedback on what you need to work on moving forward.
- Know what you need to avoid doing on your social media profile; you do not want to be screened out when employers Google you.
- Know how to gather information about companies you are interested in; follow these companies on social media and figure out what they stand for, brand-wise.
- Be sure to reach out to and make contact with someone at the company to give yourself a foothold when you apply.
- Use social media to follow up on your applications and land interviews with the companies you really want to work for.