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Use social media to enhance your job search

Published on: 20 Dec 2011

Companies of all shapes and sizes are embracing social media and many use it to scout for - and hire – new employees. Read the low-down on three, must-have channels for job hunters.

It’s *the* place to build a network of professional relationships. Follow these tips for maximum impact.

Make sure your profile is complete
Having a 100% profile projects a professional image, shows that you are thorough and that you care. Crucially, it also makes it easier for potential employers find you. They will be searching according to keywords, and if all your expertise is listed, it increases the probability of them finding you.

Join industry groups
Sometimes, these are used directly for recruitment or to ask for recommendations for job vacancies. More often, they put you in the right company and show that are capable of holding a sensible discussion, or asking a sensible question. Join the groups most relevant to your job search and behave as if you were at a fairly informal business meeting; show something of yourself, but not all and remember, certain topics such as sex, are off- limits.

Provide answers
If you have some experience, offering an answer to questions will show you in a good light and get you noticed. It’s better to do this on an ongoing basis as part of your professional development, rather than around a burst around job seeking activity, in order to appear genuine.

Make an approach, indirectly
If there’s a company you wish to approach, and you have a broad network, you probably already have a connection who works for the company, one or two degrees removed. An advanced people search will reveal this and your mutual contact, who you should politely ask for an introduction. Never ask anyone directly for a job, but instead seek their general advice on opportunities or the best person to approach.

Use it regularly
Send LinkedIn invitations to connect after you meet new contacts, and use the site to source connections for future events. That way, when you find yourself job searching, you’re ready-to-go with a mature network of contacts that supports your efforts. If you neglect your profile until you have to find a job, you’ll have the bigger task of building a profile from scratch.

Choose recommendations with care
Recommendations are powerful – but only if they are credible. If your profile is cluttered with too many, they become devalued. Similarly, too much ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’, where you endorse a colleague and they reciprocate will come across as weak. Ideally, a recommendation should be from someone for whom you have provided a service, so a boss, business partner or customer.

Two thirds of FTSE100 companies now actively use Twitter: it’s a great way for them to get the measure of candidates outside a formal interview process – and for you to strut your stuff.

Create different accounts for different voices
Make sure you have a separate Twitter account for your business persona. It will help your job seeking, while Tweets about social life excesses will definitely not impress a future employer. It’s tempting to thrown an opinion out into the ether, but ultimately, everything can be traced back to you. Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t mind a current or future employer seeing.

Make lists
You’ll need to create a list of companies and people with influence in the area or sector where you are job seeking. It’s easy: go to the list button on right of the toolbar, do a search and off you go! It’s worth checking who the companies or people you admire are following, too, and include them in your list.

It’s all about the conversation
Remember this is a business conversation, which should consist of listening, contributing your own thoughts and responding to others. Make sure your tweeting reflects this etiquette with a mix of tweets, retweets and mentions. Be realistic, as well - you can’t have a really loud voice on Twitter and not be visible in the equivalent real world.

Engage directly
The joy of Twitter is that it is so immediate and direct. There’s no other social media tool where you can be speaking to the head of HR for a company you admire without a formal introduction. Normally you would have to ask permission to connect, or have to track down a personal email address.

Use hashtags
Hashtags are the device that let you search on key words or topics that may interest you such as jobs or internships in your sector. Remember to use them as well to preface your comments on any hot debate that may catch a recruiter’s eye, whether it’s about a new piece of regulation, a fashion or a trend.

Tool up
If you get into Twitter as a job-seeking accessory, you’ll probably want to use one of the free tools available such as TweetDeck or TrueTwit. These will manage updates to other accounts such as LinkedIn and show who has responded to your tweets. It’ll help you focus on the goal of getting a job, rather than drowning in tweets.

Over one third of FTSE companies have active accounts and even more have a presence: Facebook is now a tool in the corporate world, but must be used with care.

Be picky about the companies you 'like'
You want to be perceived as passionate about the company you are applying for, not just looking at working for any company that will give you a job. Make sure there is an element of similarity in the companies that you 'like' otherwise it may appear as though you have a scattergun approach to finding a job.

Join groups that reflect your interests
For example, if you work in fashion, large fashion networks, small vintage boutiques and retailers like Topshop and Mulberry might all be worth joining.

Say something sensible
The beauty of social media is that you can get involved in debates and discussions about things that matter to you and the industry you work in. Get involved, but make sure you have something relevant and reasoned to say. It's a good way to get noticed and develop strong contacts.

Use it to learn about potential companies
Being part of a Facebook group can help with background research before an interview. You can look at the latest products, get a feel for which areas of the business they are focusing on and see what others are saying about them.

Smile for the camera.
Depending on your profession and what industry you work in, it is now almost inevitable that a potential employer will check your online profile. Employers aren't expecting to
see you in a suit or a corporate pose, but avoid the 4am 'worse for wear' pictures.

Keep your private life private
Adding industry contacts is important, but bear in mind that many people see Facebook as a way to keep in contact with friends and family so only add industry contacts if their Facebook profiles are work-focused. If you consider Facebook to be there for your social life, not your career, make sure they can't access it.

With thanks to
Katie Leaver, sales director at LondonLovesJobs
Simon Broomer, founder Career Balance
Clare Kemsley, director, Hays Marketing and Hays Retail