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.
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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:
1. Create a Twitter username that makes it easy for you to be found.
You can create a more creative handle, but it might help for you to use your own name unless it is already taken or you have some compelling reason not to use your real name. Having your name listed as @yourname will make it easy for people to find you and/or follow you. (I can be found @kittyboitnott, for example.)
2. Use a Twitter photo that matches or mirrors your photo on other social media platforms.
It helps people to recognize you more quickly. Whatever you do, make sure you upload some sort of image. Do not leave the egghead there where your photo should be unless you want to be completely ignored and considered on Twitter.
3. Create a keyword rich biography.
Use keywords that make you searchable and findable based on what you do, and, more importantly, what you do well and want to do moving forward.
4. Start following and networking with industry insiders in your field.
You may also want to follow employees of the companies you have an interest in working for. Don’t be afraid to follow people in your professional arena as well as organizations that you would like to work for.
5. Look for job postings on Twitter.
If you have a particular company or organization for which you want to work in mind, start following them and pay attention to their postings. Also, interact via Twitter with people who work at the companies you are interested in.
Don’t forget about Facebook, either. Facebook is also being used increasingly by recruiters to find candidates in today’s job market. Companies are also using Facebook pages to advertise. You can “like” a company that you have an interest in and follow updates as well as offer comments. You never know, but it might lead to a job opening.
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter certainly aren’t the only social media platforms that are available to job seekers today, but they are three of the largest and most widely used by job seekers and recruiters alike.
Don’t forget to clean up any photos from your personal Facebook page or any potentially damaging Tweets that a prospective employer would frown upon. Regardless of the generation you happen to belong to or where you are on the employment continuum, you need to remain mindful of your online presence. In today’s world, there is no such thing as “hiding out” and no such thing as “I didn’t know any better.” You are responsible for your job search and your social media presence. It is up to you to learn how to make it work to your advantage.
This post was originally published on an earlier date.
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT is a former educator turned Career Transition and Job Strategy Coach specializing in working with teachers who are experiencing the painful symptoms of job burnout. She also works with mid-career professionals from all walks of life who find themselves at a career crossroads either by chance or by choice. Learn more about Kitty at TeachersinTransition.com or at Boitnott Coaching.com.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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