Right now, you may view social media only as a purely social tool.
In reality, social media can be a huge asset in your job search by enabling you to expand your network and share your voice as you pursue that first job after graduation.
The value of social media as you start your career search is two-fold:
- Social media allows you to define the information that is out there about you by allowing you to control your content; when you have a well managed social media presence, employers will be able to easily find and identify you
- Social media tools connect you with other professionals, organizations, and career experts in ways that off line networking does not
The caveat about social media is that you need to have a clear strategy and manage the time you spend on the online platforms. Without a plan, it can become a timesuck… and you won’t have much to show for your investment.
What I’ve written below is not intended to be an exhaustive list of everything you can do in social media, but here are 17 good ideas for beginners. Don’t do them all at once. Begin with one, get comfortable with how you’ll use that element, and move on to the next.
You thought I was going to start with LinkedIn, didn’t you? We’ll get to that. Right now, we’re going to start with what you probably know best: Facebook. Statistically, it’s likely you have a decent network on Facebook. Why not leverage the network you already have first?
1. Shout out to your friends and family. Let your existing friends know exactly what kind of work you hope to do and what organizations you aspire to work for. Ask who they know that they could introduce you to. After all, these are folks who already know you, presumably have some level of trust with, and who could easily refer you.
2. Build your BranchOut profile. Download this Facebook app that allows you to build a “professional” presence and leverage your existing friends network. Upload a work-appropriate head shot and build your profile. Because it’s walled off from your personal profile, you can connect to others and network professionally. You can also browse job postings, apply for jobs, and see how you’re connected to jobs that are posted.
3. Follow companies, industry and career experts. “Follow” companies on fan pages, or subscribe to feeds from career search or industry experts. See our Facebook page and join us there!
4. Manage your privacy settings. As we all know by now, employers are checking you out on-line, before they even contact you. Be smart about what’s available to the public, and what only your friends can see. Make this a priority. A huge priority.
Since you are used to social media being a casual adventure, LinkedIn might be a bit intimidating for you. So start with the basics of LinkedIn and keep building on what you know… and are doing. Having a LinkedIn profile ensures you’ll also be found in Google searches using your name. The world’s most popular professional network is also a good way to control the online content about you.
5. Build your profile. Include a good headline and summary statement. Use keywords that will attract the kind of employer, and job, you are looking for. So the world can see your smiling face, include a professional, close-in head shot.
6. Create your vanity URL. LinkedIn will allow you to define a URL that is unique to you. Include it on your resume, other networking materials. That way, when people look you up on LinkedIn, they’ll be sure to get your profile, and not someone else with your same name.
7. Connect to everyone you know. Include your parents, parents of your friends, your friends, professors and basically anyone in your life who has a profile. I would be surprised if you didn’t easily have 75 to 100 connections before you even start working hard. Then build from there. You’re invited to connect with me as well and the YouTern crew as well! Be sure to include a quick note introducing yourself.
8. Follow your target companies. Use the ‘Companies’ feature in the search tab; follow organizations that you believe are a good match for you. See what jobs are posted and who you’re connected to in those organization to pursue introductions.
9. Investigate job postings and apply for jobs. I love this feature for recent grads! You can see the skills and competencies employers are looking for… right in their job postings. This process also gets you familiar with the language they use (including keywords), enabling you to use this language as you prepare your marketing materials. Bonus: you can apply for jobs right from the site.
10. Identify new potential connections. Your connections can introduce you to their connections. Be sure you have a good introduction message and professional statement about why you would like to connect.
11. Join groups; participate in the conversations. LinkedIn Groups are an opportunity for you to make intelligent comments and observations, answer questions and make connections. Join groups where you have interests or connections. Include alumni, career interests, GenY or millennial groups, job search, internships, associations or industry specific groups.
Twitter is about more than keeping up with the Kardashians, or Macklemore. Twitter is a way to have conversations with virtually anyone in the Twitterverse. And there’s no gatekeeper in sight. If you find someone that’s interesting or has a shared interest, you can speak directly to them, one on one, and they will most likely respond to you.
12. Build your profile. This is easier than LinkedIn, mostly because you only have 160 characters to detail you. Include your interests, your goals, and your LinkedIn URL. Look at other recent grad profiles to get some ideas.
13. Develop a strategy to connect and converse with people who are in your field or organizations of interest to you. What are the 10 target organizations you have or the top three industries you want to explore?
14. Identify target companies and industries and follow the folks who represent them. Re-tweet pertinent posts. Engage in conversation, make comments, ask questions.
15. Build lists so you can easily organize and follow key people. This is good if you have multiple areas of interests. Perhaps in one list you have career search, in another your top 10 target companies, and in another tweets from notables in your desired industry. This makes it easy to scan recent posts from your community, re-tweet them, and add your own perspective.
Using lists will save you time and keep you focused. If you follow a lot of people, going through your main feed can be overwhelming. You risk missing key posts. A third-party tool might come in handy. I like Hootsuite, but there are others as well. Find one that works for you.
Bonus Tip: Join Tweetchats. These are online chats moderated by hosts to ask questions and facilitate the conversation. It’s a fun and fast paced way to participate in a virtual conversation. You’ll meet new people and make more connections. Here’s a Google Doc with a list of the Twitter chats, subject matter, date and time.
Don’t let social media overwhelm you. Just find the best tools that work for you and put them to work in your job search!
What are you doing to put social media to work in your job search? Leave a comment below!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!
About the Author: Lea McLeod helps recent grads and mid-careerists navigate the job search. And once you have a job, she’ll coach you to the brilliant performance of which you are capable! Her “Developing Patterns of Success” Workshop has been deployed to help thousands of college hires worldwide do just that. She blogs at DegreesofTransition.com. Follow her on Facebook, and Twitter, too.