Using social media in your job search

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28 Aug 2019
For job-seekers

Love it or hate it, social media is firmly and unapologetically front and centre in UK culture. But aside from it being somewhere to share things with friends and family, it genuinely has the power to make or break your job search. If you’re only using social media to share photos of your dinner, sound off on Love Island or stalk the people you went to school with, you’re definitely missing out.

Most employers and recruitment agencies are using social media to source the right candidates. Studies have shown that 92% of companies are using social media for hiring – and four out of five recruiting managers will look as a candidate’s social profiles. But it isn’t just a one-way process – jobseekers are also using social channels to research employment opportunities and scope out prospective companies. In fact, 47% of people used social media in applying for their most recent job. So that means two things:

  1. You need to be aware that employers and recruitment agencies are looking at you.
  2. You need to be looking right back at them!

Here’s a quick guide to harnessing the power of social media in your job search.

1. Keep it clean

This might sound obvious, but make sure all your publicly accessible content is appropriate for all audiences – no offensive swearing, dodgy photos, political rants, super random comments or commentaries on contentious topics. Keep your profile photos professional and consistent across your social profiles, and use your real name (it’s always a bit odd seeing a sleek profile pic and a whizzy biography attached to a username of swear words and insults – we’ve seen it, it really happens!).

2. Keep it up to date

You don’t need to post things constantly, but you do need to have an active social presence if you have chosen to have an account on a particular platform – if a company or recruitment agency finds you, they’ll want to see some current content. Likewise, if you’re researching a prospective company or agency, you want to see some recent posts and blogs to give you a good idea about who they are and what it’s like to work with them. (At the very least, make sure your profile is up to date and you like and share a few things a week.)

3. Manage your privacy settings

Take the time to work through the full list of options for your privacy settings on every social media account. You want to make sure that the stuff you want to be private is kept private, and the things you want to share are publicly available. You might want to consider, for example, who can see your email address or mobile number – this might vary depending on the platform.

4. Make LinkedIn work for you

This is your must-have platform for job hunting - businesses, recruiters and head-hunters will use LinkedIn to search for candidates for particular jobs and then approach them directly. Try and get a few endorsements from past colleagues and managers – a bit like reading reviews before you book a hotel, LinkedIn endorsements add to your credibility and authenticity. You should only really connect with people you know, or who are in a similar industry/role and have shared professional interests. LinkedIn has a walkthrough on how to make your profile stand out from the crowd (like adding a headline and a punchy summary) - it’s worth taking the time to work through their advice as it could make your profile appear higher on a recruiter’s search result. You can also mark yourself as ‘actively looking for a role’ so it’s clear that you’d welcome an approach.

5. Decide how you want to use Twitter

If you can gain a decent following on Twitter and regularly post or share content that relates to your interests and values, this will help persuade an employer or recruitment agency that you’re a good match for a role. You don’t necessarily have to tweet yourself – you can just follow companies or topics and retweet. You can use the ‘List’ functionality to curate the best content from your chosen industries or sectors, and make use of the hashtag search function to cut through the noise to the content you really want to see (for example, you could search #jobs or #hiring plus your geographic area and your professional field). You can use keywords in your biography so you come up higher on people’s searches, and you can even take part in Twitter Chats on topics of relevance to your field to show your interest and raise your profile. They usually happen on set days and times and are a great way to build your network and grow your followers.

6. Don’t forget your Facebook profile

There’s a lot of debate currently over the future of Facebook, and the narrowing demographic profile of its users, but it’s still a massively influential platform and you should definitely consider your presence on it when it comes to your job search. Although it’s mostly for connecting friends and family informally, it is increasingly being used by organisations for more commercial reasons – whether to communicate with staff, customers and the public, or to ask for comments and feedback. The boundaries between personal and professional can be a bit blurred, so make sure that you are always aware of what information about you can be accessed. We suggest you ‘like’ the companies or public figures of relevance to your chosen field, and consider asking your personal connections for advice on specific jobs (or career decisions more generally). You never know, one of your Facebook friends might know someone at the company you’re desperate to work for who could give you some inside information!

7. The rising power of Instagram

It might not be the first platform that comes to mind in relation to your job search, but don’t discount the potential impact of an Instagram account – especially for the more creative and visual industries. It’s also a great place to follow the companies or influential people in your industry – you’ll likely find the content they post on Instagram is quite different to their other social channels so you’ll get more of an insight (or, at least, a different angle on things).

8. Consider how your industry uses social media

There are plenty of other sites and networks out there that are dedicated to specific industries. As Erin Greenwald from the Muse suggests, “GitHub is a prime example—if you’re a developer, it’s an essential place for showing off your work and connecting with others. If you’re a photographer? It would be smart to have a Flickr account. Designer or artist? Consider joining the Behance community. A writer? Try out Medium.” If you’re not sure if there’s anything out there specifically for your industry, you could ask your colleagues or post on social media for suggestions!

9. The ‘national newspaper litmus test’

One final piece of advice - before you post anything online, ask yourself whether you would be happy to have this information published in a national newspaper where your family, friends, current and future employers could see it. If not, you might want to change it!

You can do as much or as little as you want to when it comes to using social media in your job search – some industries lend themselves to it a lot more obviously than others, but as long as you’ve taken the time to consider how you are portrayed online and made some decisions about how you want to use your social profiles in your job search, you’re well on your way. Please do ask us if you’d like any personal advice or support – we’re always happy to help.

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