Social media is by nature random. That’s why you, along with coworkers, your mom and even your cat-loving recluse aunt, may find yourself posting memes onFacebook, tweeting nothing-in-particulars, and endorsing every imaginable skill of your LinkedIn contacts. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. But if you want to use social media to find a job, it’s better to be more deliberate. Here are some steps to take.
Target your search. Posting a Facebook status saying, “I want a job. Who can help me?” will get you nowhere. Not only are you being far too vague, but you are choosing the wrong channel for such a plea. Instead of using Facebook, which emphasizes friends, it’s better to focus your job hunting onLinkedIn, which is purely professional. Create a LinkedIn account, if you don’t have one already, and make sure you have optimized it. (See “What To Say On LinkedIn When You’ve Been Laid Off.”)
Then use the site to its fullest by connecting with contacts. LinkedIn helps you do that by asking to connect to your email and Facebook accounts to match any of your friends who are also on LinkedIn. This is the key for LinkedIn success: transitioning useful contacts from your recreational social circles into your professional circles.
Create a Google+ profile and design it in a similar fashion. Only after you have used these two professional sources should you direct your job-hunting efforts to Facebook and Twitter.
Personalize your message. Just having profiles on different social networks is not enough to find a job. You need to carefully craft the messages you’re sending. Blasting generic messages is equivalent walking down a busy street shouting that you are looking for work; you are speaking to nobody in particular and wasting your time.
A better strategy is to make a list of people with experience, contacts or knowledge of the industry in which you want to work. You can search keywords on LinkedIn or Google+ for industries or positions. Once you have a list of prospects and contacts, you can target your message to this group.
Rather than sending overly generic messages, craft targeted outreaches to those who can help you the most. Facebook statuses are almost worthless because of their broad scope and because only a small percentage of your network actually see them. Instead, send personal messages to contacts, introducing yourself and briefly explaining your interest in their field. Also consider joining some specific LinkedIn groups or Facebook pages to keep up to date on openings and connect with industry professionals.
Mind your online manners. Remember that if your social networking is successful, you may actually wind up meeting the people you are interacting with face-to-face. So keep all of your correspondences professional and courteous.
Be especially wary when using more personal platforms such as Facebook or Twitter where you may have photos or information that you would not want a potential employer to see. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. When describing your work, choose businesslike descriptions such as, “goal-oriented,” “seizes initiative” and “creative thinker.” Use a professional looking profile picture on LinkedIn and Google+.
Anticipate the next step. Social media is just a way to engage potential employers. You still need a resume in printed and digital format. And if you’re lucky enough to land an interview, make sure you research the company’s history, structure, products and services before you show up.