From a marketer’s point of view, turning to social media outlets is a no-brainer. If your job is to get the word out and spur on sales, the first thing you’re going to do is head to where the largest amounts of people are gathered. In the world of the job hunt, your approach should be no different. If you’re looking for work, head to where the largest amounts of employers are gathered. For years this magic location was a fragmented, or loosely organized collection, at best, and job seekers often engaged recruitment agencies to help them find this employment Elysium.
However, with 89% of companies using social media as part of their recruitment process, the tables have drastically turned. Instead of a future employee working their way into a company, companies are now actively seeking out those that they want and need. Even the age-old “headhunter” is far less likely to pick up the phone and engage you in a blind conversation. If you do get that call, chances are, that recruiter already knows just about everything about you (or at least what can be gleaned from your social media profiles), and whether you know it or not, you’re already in the “second round.”
Given this pendulum swing in the direction of you, the employee, having and using social media in your job hunt is no longer an option, and certainly something no longer relegated to “creative” or “technology forward” job applicants. So what are some key elements for ranking high on a recruiter’s radar?
When was the last time you did a Google search of yourself? Whether we want to admit it or not, 99.44% of all Internet-based research begins with a Google (not a statistical figure, sorry Bing). If search results for your specific name are, well, less-than-ideal, it’s time to take charge and do something about it. Don’t forget to click the “Images” tab to avoid any surprises.
There are a number of online reputation management tools (123people, PeekYou, etc.) that can help you track down and manage what information about you is being indexed, and which isn’t. Keep in mind, this process only goes for information that you may have posted, i.e. items that you have access to and can change. Now if someone else has posted something about you, maybe it’s time to make amends and see if they’ll remove it.
Once and/or if your less-than-ideal content is removed and no longer ranking in a Google search, profiles that are showing up in search results should reflect the best you possible. Whether it’s your Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or smaller social circles you belong to, make sure that your messaging is consistent. Outline who you are, what you do, and what makes you superwickedawesome at it. Obviously the trick here is to condense this information down to a few sentences, but it’s well worth the effort – remember the meta. Meaning, those bits of text Google displays below its link are usually the “about me” or “description” section. Maximize them and make sure recruiters are finding you!
Plug It In
Remember, the goal is to have recruiters beating down your door to speak with you. A great profile is one thing, a great profile with a vast number of relevant connections is a completely different matter. It’s precisely these connections that will build the bridge to recruiters and potential work.
By now, I’m sure we’ve all figured out how to find, follow, subscribe to, friend, etc. just about anyone else that has a social media profile. If not, please turn to page 36, and resume scanning the want ads. Use these tools, and start growing your network with a professional goal. Seek out local influencers, decision makers, and people of overall interest and notoriety in your local community, or the community that you’d like to work in. Engage with them: Answer their questions, comment on a photo/video, like their status updates.
Keep a mental list (or physical, if you prefer) of the interactions you’ve had with these folks, and when the time is right, send over a message regarding a certain post/topic, and see if they wouldn’t be open to meeting up for a coffee to further discuss. If you’ve added value to the conversation, you’d be amazed at how willing people are to meet up for the cost of two cups o’ Joe and a great conversation.
Take it Offline
No, not your social media profile, but your interactions. For all the love we give social media, and it gives us, there’s simply no replacement for some good ol’ fashioned face time with real, living, breathing, human beings.
Linkedin’s events section is a top place to get started working the local net. Keep your social eyes and ears peeled for any local Tweetups, business get-togethers, happy hours, etc. Likewise, Lanyrd, Plancast, Eventbrite, and similar services can help you find and attend local events.
Once in the door, put your in-person networking skills to the test and make sure that you do not leave the event until you’ve met at least three new people, and set up a meetup with at least one of them. Ideally, these new folks that you’ve had the good fortune to meet will be connected in some way to a company or the industry you’d like to work in. If not, don’t count the person out, as you never know exactly how small a world it is, and connections are never a wasted resource.
Sales of Self
With so many employers and recruiters having access to so many potential candidates, how do you stand out from the crowd? This is when many non-marketers need to put their engineering cap down and focus on getting the word out and spurring on sales. Sales of what? Sales of self. Whether you’re actively looking for a gig, or simply using social media to present yourself to the world with the “I’m employed, but make me an offer, and let’s talk” sign on in the background, it’s important to always be selling yourself.
In addition to the process of self-marketing, employers are also going to want to know what you’re currently working on. If you’re gainfully employed, feel free to expand upon your recent projects, but if not – which would you rather, “While I’m looking for something new, I’ve been digging deep into HTML5,” or “Well, err, right now, I’m just looking.”?
Any good salesperson will tell you that it’s a never-ending cycle. Treat your employment based social media posturing the same. Always be closing. Whether it’s the last chapter of a new book that’s going to increase/improve your skillset, or a handshake over a power coffee meeting, always be working on improving yourself, ad meliora.
Again, a very small minority of employers and recruiters are not using social media as a prescreening method, and if you’re not already in the pool, chances are, you’re going to be passed over for that, “You know, we really need someone with XYZ to help Bob next year,” opportunity that will go to a job competitor with consistent, job focused, social media profiles. These “job focused” profile options don’t even need, and in some cases shouldn’t be, screaming, “I’m looking!”, but by applying these options above, if and when the time comes that you are looking, you’ll be far easier to find, evaluate, and contact.