Most Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) and those born post 2000 know that using social media is a given when they embark upon a job search. Using social media is something they do naturally, and they understand the various platforms that are available to them. (Psst! Can't get hired? Watch this free tutorial.) Mid-career professionals who are sometimes closer to the Baby Boomer end of the generational spectrum, however, may not be as savvy with social media, and are missing out on opportunities because they don't know what they don't know. It is time to get with the program and learn what you need to know in order to optimize your job search strategy and create a killer brand for yourself in the process.
Whether you are just starting after college or you just got downsized after 30 years in the same job, you need to understand how social media plays a role in your job search strategy. Here is one thing you need to know for sure: employers and recruiters are using social media more than ever, and they are using job boards less. This is a trend that began a few years ago and it continues to grow. The primary tool used by recruiters is LinkedIn, but Twitter is also gaining ground. (I know individuals who have connected with companies through Twitter, and those connections have resulted in a job offer and a new job.) And Facebook should not be discounted. The rules for engagement on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are different, so you need to become aware of the pros and cons of each platform and behave accordingly. What might be a great interaction on Twitter might not be so great for LinkedIn, and vice versa. (The same goes for interaction on Facebook vs. Twitter and LinkedIn.) First, with regard to LinkedIn, you need to have a stellar profile. For help on that, you can contact any number of experts or career coaches who can guide you so that you have a fully optimized and ready-for-prime-time profile. The basic guideline is as follows: 1. Have a great headshot that conveys a sense of likeability, competence and influence. (Check out Photofeeler for feedback on your own photo.) 2. Spend time on your headline, and make it keyword rich. You only get 120 characters in the headline area, so make them count. Don't waste space with your current job title. Use keywords that convey your areas of expertise. What skills do you have that you want to continue to use in your next venture? Use those in your headline. Don't dwell on the past. Think of your future! 3. Your Summary section should be written in first person and it should convey some personality so that you appear to be real, human, and approachable. Making your summary dry and stiff will repel a potential recruiter. Making it personal will draw them in. 4. Don't bother to go past the last 15 years of your job experience unless it is pertinent to what you want to do in the future. Don't feel compelled to list every job you have ever had. Unless you want to a bag boy again or a waitress, listing the jobs you had in high school and college won't help. 5. Complete as many sections of your LinkedIn profile as you can. LinkedIn has made it easy by prompting you to fill in sections that you haven't yet tackled. Use the ones that are appropriate. Skip the ones that are not. 6. Learn how to reach out to potential connections correctly. There is a certain protocol to making connections on LinkedIn. Prove your understanding of the protocol and avoid looking like you don't know what you are doing. 7. Create connections with purpose. It is great to connect with friends and family on Facebook, but Facebook is mostly for personal use...LinkedIn is for business, so remember to make your connections in your professional circle count. As for Twitter, here are some tips to keep in mind: