Much ado has been made about social media and its effect on the job market, but not everyone is really utilizing social media resources beyond making accounts and hoping a job will find them. With fewer jobs available, the old approach just isn’t good enough anymore. Creating a resume and cover letter, submitting to an employment site or directly to employers makes you one of thousands that apply, with nothing special to recommend you.
Increasingly, employers are depending on social networks to weed out undesirable candidates, which is why I’m always harping on protecting your image. I’m not suggesting that you stop sending out resumes, but in this job environment, it’s time to stretch the boundaries and put your social presence to work.
- Make a short list of companies you really want to work for, and spend much of your job search time focused on them. Make a list of key employees and search for them. Find them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social media you use – and follow them. Find their blogs and make an occasional comment, but don’t be too pushy. You want to show enthusiasm and interest, but not seem like a stalker. Once you’ve made your presence known – maybe the hiring manager has responded to a comment on his blog – try sending him a DM expressing your interest in working for the company. Don’t directly ask for a job (yet), just open a dialogue and try to get to know him, and vice versa. If you have expressed your interest and a job becomes available, a good relationship might give you an edge.
- Become a content producer. Note the big social muckety-mucks on Twitter. They gain followers, attention, and social capital by tweeting out advice and offering help and encouragement. Write an API that does something interesting, and offer it for free. Search for and answer technical help questions. Write blog posts and articles about advice in your field. This is a tried-and-true attraction-based marketing technique that helps up the ante on your social worth.
- Complete your profiles. Don’t even think about following anyone until your profile has a picture and some bio information that makes you sound interesting and follow-worthy. Use Twitter and your Facebook wall to send out interesting and informative tweets without any cheesy marketing hooks. Entertain and engage. Build a personality snapshot that shows you to be cool, confident, and down-to-earth.
- Make videos. Video resumes are popular, but unless acting is in your toolset, you might come off as stiff and wooden. If you aren’t confident in front of a camera, or you’re worried about how you look on camera, it would be far more powerful to upload “how to” videos with the URL to your website at the end. Teach what you know, and remember, things that are easy for you might be difficult for others. Even basic computer maintenance escapes most non-techies.
- Spread your influence. The more well known you are online, the better chance you have of making social media work for you. Crosslink your blogs, profiles, and articles, exchange links with friends, and make intelligent comments on well-known blogs.
Job hunting just isn’t what it used to be. To be successful, you’ll need to use every tool at your disposal. Play to your strengths and be proactive on all fronts.