When you're trying to build your career, social media can be one of the best tools to help you find new opportunities and increase your personal brand. Right now, there seems to be a huge digital divide between job seekers.
On one side, you have the group of people who typically haven't had to look for a job in at least a decade. They hold tightly to the job search strategies of the past, like listing every job they've ever had on their resume and believing that they need to “beat the streets” to find work. This group uses email and online job boards, but they shy away from really creating a professional identity on social media sites.
On the other side of the divide, there are the workers who have been looking for a job for some time or who have found and lost a couple of jobs in the past 5 years. These job seekers are savvy about creating their social media presence, developing their personal brand and marketing their skills in a way that makes their resume an advertisement, rather than a biography.
Unfortunately, members of the first group are having a much harder time finding work. When I've asked people why they didn't have a cohesive personal brand, most said that they had tried to open accounts on social networking sites, but never really got the hang of it. Even though they saw the clear value in doing it, they didn't know how.
For those who haven't used social media (and those who want to tweak their social media usage), here are a few tips that will have you networking and making connections.
Make your profile interesting and relevant – Whether you're using Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you'll be given space to write your profile. It's usually one of the first steps in setting up your account and not surprisingly, it's the part that stops most users. It's hard to know what to write and many people find writing about themselves to be a painful process. If you aren't sure what to write in your profile, look for your career story. We all have one, but most of us don't even see them. Think about your career progress from your first job, your education and every career move you've made. When you really think about them, you'll see how you've been moving forward and furthering your own goal. For example, if your first job was in a retail store, you went to college to study marketing and then worked at several customer service jobs, took a job at a coffee shop to make ends meet and now are looking for a job in marketing, your story is clearly about customer service and learning about how things are bought and sold at every level. Once you find your unique voice, writing your profile becomes easier.
Get involved in the conversation – Find companies in your industry and connect with them. Whether it's adding them to your contacts, following them or liking their page on Facebook, it's important to get connected. It's also a good idea to follow industry related publications, bloggers and even industry leaders. This will ensure that you hear about new and interesting changes in your field before others. Having cutting edge information makes it so much easier for you to do the next step.
Share thoughtfully – If you share information that is interesting and of value to others, you'll begin to develop a reputation as a valuable resource. The people that you've connected with will look forward to your posts and will be more likely to make comments about them. This will allow you to get more involved in conversations and will lead to people trying to connect with you, which will expand your network and look impressive to a potential employer.
Also, I want to say that you can't let your personal views get in the way of your career development. That means that you don't want to share graphics and memes that aren't professional. Everyday, I see people doing this and it can really give you a bad name. Even if someone agrees with your views, you look unprofessional. For that reason, it doesn't hurt to have a separate social media profile for your personal life.
Have a clear strategy – Set aside time each day to work on your social media accounts. Spend one day looking for new connections and reading blogs and another day for posting. Not scheduling your tasks will make it much more likely that you'll network in fits and starts, which will make it more difficult to build a good reputation. If you make it a priority and take things slow, you'll be able to build your social network without getting overwhelmed.
Do you use social media in your job search? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Image Source: MorgueFile