By: Alice Neville
The traditional way to get a job – see a vacancy advertised, send in your CV and cover letter, be interviewed, have your references checked and bingo, you’re hired – is constantly evolving. As the internet pervades every aspect of our lives, the job hunt is no exception.
Rebecca Clarke, who works for Auckland-based recruitment marketing firm Prominence, says social media can play a crucial role in the job hunt.
Many jobseekers are aware that potential employers may check out their social media profiles once they’ve applied for a job, but that’s only half the story, says Clarke. “Recruiters are often going to social media channels first – they’re trying to find the best talent for their positions as quickly as possible, so if they’re able to search for people in a network or community where they think the talent may be, that’s often much quicker than putting an ad on a job board and just waiting for people to apply.
“Having a good social media profile means you might be top of mind to hear about an opportunity before it’s advertised and you start having competition.”
For that reason, it’s important to make sure your social media presence is on point right from the get-go. Here are some of Clarke’s top social media tips for jobseekers:
Don’t spread yourself too thin
As a bare minimum, have a decent (and up-to-date) LinkedIn profile, then choose a social media channel that’s most relevant to your industry to focus on. “If you’re a graphic designer, you might be using Behance to put together your portfolio; if you’re a developer in the IT industry you’ll be using GitHub; and if you’re a journalist you’ll probably be using Twitter more than people outside of the industry,” says Clarke.
If you work in – or want to work in – an industry with a strong visual focus, Instagram is a great way to showcase who you are and what you’re about.
“Even just following brands you admire or companies you want to work for, liking and commenting on their posts can be a really good way of helping you stand out,” says Clarke.
“There’s no point trying to spread yourself too thin and be everywhere – that’s really time-consuming and it’s not going to get the best results,” she adds. “Think about what’s important for your industry and maybe get clues from people who are in the industry you want to work in. Look at their LinkedIn profile – what groups they belong to, who they are following. Even if you’re just investing a few minutes a day, it can help you to get more targeted in what you’re doing.”
Clarke says that in the early days of Facebook, recruiters were encouraged to set up two profiles – a professional page and a personal one – and never the twain shall meet. These days, the newly coined term ‘profersonal’ is the watchword – basically, you don’t have to separate your work self from your home self.
“Now people expect to work in places where they can bring their whole selves to work, they can let their personality shine and really enjoy what they’re doing, rather than having to be a totally different person at work than they are outside of work,” explains Clarke.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about that drunken karaoke pic you’re tagged in, mind. “It’s a good idea to make sure you’re aware of what information is shown publicly, says Clarke – who advises Googling yourself to see what comes up.
“Across all social media platforms, it’s a really good idea to know exactly what the privacy settings are and be a little bit cautious about what information you are putting out there.”
On the other side of that coin, make sure the information that might impress potential employers is publicly viewable – if you’ve joined industry groups or are going to career-related events, for example.
Think not just about trying to stand out, but about exactly how you want to stand out, says Clarke. “What do you want to be known for – not just skills but the values you’ll bring to your next employer. All the things people often think about when putting together a cover letter can help guide them in creating their social media profiles.”
Keep your finger on the pulse
Social media is constantly evolving – what’s de rigueur one day might be old news the next – so it’s important to keep abreast of new and developing channels.
“Just as recruiters are thinking innovatively, it’s helpful for jobseekers to take an innovative approach and think where an employer or recruiter could potentially be,” says Clarke.
YouTube and TripAdvisor are a couple of less-obvious channels being used to advertise positions or find candidates, and Snapchat is increasingly popular with recruiters, particularly in industries like retail, hospitality and contact centres.
“Posting on Snapchat can be an efficient method – just having the job live for a day or two can get a really good response,” says Clarke. “It’s usually just asking people to register their interest with an email address or a phone number, and then the employer or recruitment company will get in touch with further information about the role.”
Don’t forget the basics
A simple tip is to turn off your LinkedIn notifications – no one wants to be alerted every time you update your profile or have a work anniversary, and it could lead to potential employers muting you entirely.
Also, make sure your profile photo conveys what you want it to. “Ideally you want to have a friendly photo so it’s more engaging,” says Clarke. “Having a photo of you at a family event with five other people cropped out in the background is not a good idea, or one of you partying at the weekend. Get the advice of somebody who you trust – they will often be brutally honest.”
And just like on a Tinder profile, you may think you look better in that pic from five or 10 years ago, but it’s going to backfire in the end – a potential employer will be put off if you look different to what they expect.
Remember to network IRL too
With all this focus on social media, it’s easy to forget about face-to-face opportunities. The two should work in harmony, says Clarke, and meetup.com is a good port of call for finding industry-specific events.
“If you’re building a network online, that can lead to opportunities at different events, and you might already be at the top of someone’s mind,” she says. “Don’t underestimate the value of networking in person, not just behind a computer.”