Monday 2 May 2011

The Basics: Using Social Media

  Social networking is a key component of today's job search; job seekers want to be where hiring managers can find them, and increasingly, hiring managers are cruising social networking websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter to source and vet candidates. From a recruitment industry perspective, social networking sites can lead recruiters to people who may never actually respond to a job ad. Social networking sites have a real place for people looking to broaden their professional networks as well as their social lives. Whatever the future holds and however you choose to approach it, online networking can be a simple and effective way of getting to first base with recruitment companies and employers alike.
Online social networking helps job seekers in two key new ways; first, to find unique, hard-to-find open job opportunities, and second, to increase the likelihood of being found by companies with openings. The goal with all your online profiles should be to provide a vivid professional picture of yourself—of your experiences, work products, connections, group affiliations—and insight into what you would bring to any company; and to build as many relevant, useful connections as you can.
HOWEVER, many people's social profiles aren't up to much. In fact, some job seekers' online presences may actually be hampering their job searches. Many hiring managers screen out candidates based on what they found on their social networking profiles. You may need to sharpen your skills and pay more attention to how these sites work to get the most out of them. First and foremost, job seekers need to understand which sites are entirely public, which sites offer privacy controls, and the limits of those privacy controls. If employers can access job seekers' profiles on any of these sites, their profiles better be consistent, up-to-date and complete. An incomplete profile on a professional site like LinkedIn, for example, can be as damaging to a job seeker as a profile with inappropriate photos and information; an incomplete profile might suggest to a hiring manager that the job seeker doesn't finish what he or she starts for example.
Here are SEVEN TIPS for ensuring that your social networking profile doesn't sink your chances of landing a new job:
1. Make sure your social networking profiles are complete and rich with search-engine friendly keywords. An incomplete profile can reflect poorly on you. It can indicate to a hiring manager that you didn't care enough to finish it. Having search-engine friendly keywords that describe your skills and experience helps employers find you before they've posted a job ad.
2. Use social networking websites to communicate your career status. Talk about full or part-time work you may be doing and explain the types of job opportunities you're seeking.
3. Post recommendations from current and former managers, staff, clients and colleagues. Rather than asking people to write recommendations for you, offer to write a recommendation for them. Often they will be glad to respond in kind.
4. Personalize the URLs for your social networking sites. Facebook and LinkedIn let users create URLs for their profile pages that include their names. It makes your profiles more search engine friendly: If a hiring manager types your name into a search engine, your Facebook or LinkedIn profile with your name in your URL will have higher prominence in search results. Also, list these URLs on your cover letters, CVs and business cards.
5. Join online groups in your area of expertise. The best groups to join have lots of active members. Groups allow you to share and validate your expertise. Ask intriguing questions that will spark discussions with other like-minded individuals, and add your two cents to others' questions.
6. Be courteous. When someone wants to connect with or "follow" you, in the parlance of the social networking set, reciprocate and find out how you can help that person.
7. Use proper grammar and correct spelling in your profiles. Remember, employers check out your social networking profiles to evaluate your communication skills. Nothing screams poor communications skills and sloppy work louder than bad grammar and incorrect spelling.
For job seekers, LinkedIn has the most executive members and is more professionally focused. If you haven’t already created a LinkedIn profile, set up a strong basic profile now and keep enhancing it as you go. More importantly, start making connections. A great place to start is searching by your college or university to find friends. Don’t just send invitations without explanations; develop a message to send to people you don’t know explaining who you are and why you want to connect. If you’re in business, working in sales, perhaps looking for a career change or looking to connect with others in your industry or area of expertise, LinkedIn is for you.
Most people join Facebook for social purposes, but companies and recruiters are actively searching the network for talent. Make sure to use the privacy settings to control who sees what. Make your description, education and work available to everyone, but restrict who sees your posts and pictures. Keep a close eye because the photos that other people take (and tag with your name) can be a menace.
While Twitter isn’t traditionally associated with job hunting like LinkedIn, it is fast becoming a virtual job board of “real time” job opportunities. Companies are increasingly posting jobs to their Twitter pages live. Also, it’s a fantastic way to build your professional presence by commenting on news and topics relevant to your field. Keep your personal tweets (what you had for breakfast, Friday night plans) and professional tweets separate by creating two accounts; create one, more complete profile and indicate your professional interests.
For employers, Twitter - where users post updates, or “tweets,” of no more than 140 characters - offers one more way to find and attract candidates, and a cheaper alternative to big online job boards. It also helps companies target social-media-savvy job hunters and convey an innovative image. For job seekers, Twitter offers the chance to interact one-on-one with companies’ recruiters and can be more convenient than job boards.
Blogging is also a great way to share your thoughts, ideas and views. Blogging sites are relatively easy to use - most users simply write their thoughts, provide a link to resources, and publish; all with relative ease. Some see blogging is an alternative to having a website, although it is becoming more an extension to a website than an alternative. Maintaining your blog is a lot quicker and sometimes easier than maintaining your website, you can do it almost instantly.
According to some experts, being able to use social media sites is a big advantage in today's dreary job market. It's easy to give up in the face of unemployment. Some people sink into depression; others sink into World of Warcraft. Some spend all day just looking at photos and taking silly quizzes on Facebook. Others constantly refresh their Twitter pages, starved for anything interesting to do. It may seem like these activities are counter-productive to getting a job, but according to some marketing experts, being well-versed in social media is a huge plus in today's job market. Who says spending all day on Facebook and Twitter is a total waste of time?
More posts in Using Social Media to find a Job

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