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Build Your Career Get the Job

Social Media Success: A Guide for Job Seekers

Social Media Success: A Guide for Job Seekers
Credit: ra2studio/Shutterstock

Advancing your career or changing jobs comes with numerous challenges. "Blending in" is not an option. Because the pool of candidates is vastly competitive, hiring managers will analyze your resume, past professional experiences and social presence, so standing out is key.

"It is important for candidates to utilize social media," said Rebecca White, area director at staffing firm Kavaliro. "Not only does this show that they are current on the latest technologies, but it also provides them [with a way] to stay in touch with their colleagues, expand their professional network and open themselves up to other career opportunities."

Each social network has its own unique characteristics and best practices. What you post, how you post and who you interact with on a daily basis can have a great impact on how recruiters and hiring managers view you as a viable candidate.

Serious job seekers should take the opportunity to develop their skills on social media and attract hiring managers. Here are a few tips to help optimize your job search on the most commonly used social media channels that recruiters use. [Why Your Social Media Profile Is the New Resume]

As the go-to network for both professionals and hiring managers, LinkedIn should be a top priority for your social media-related job search efforts. According to an infographic by Career Glider, which cited Jobvite statistics, 79 percent of recruiters hire through LinkedIn, and of those who use it, more than 90 percent search for, contact and screen candidates based on their profiles on the site.

While it is important that you complete all the basic sections of your profile, you should also make an effort to enrich the content of your page. Chris Heinz, vice president of operations at Westport One, an affiliate of executive search and recruitment organization MRINetwork, advised job seekers to collect recommendations from clients and colleagues, as well as to add context to all qualifications and experiences they list.

"LinkedIn can be a great resource for interviews," said Angela Copeland, career coach at Copeland Coaching. "If you're interested in a particular job, try to locate (and reach out to) the hiring manager via LinkedIn. If you have an interview already scheduled, you can use LinkedIn to learn more about the people who will interview you."

 "LinkedIn allows us to get an idea of the applicant's job history, but more importantly, their involvement in organizations and how active they are in their community," Andrew VanderLind, co-founder of Where I'm From apparel, said. This demonstrates a person's time-management ability and how well they will interact with a customer or our associates."

Bryan Lewis, chief operating officer of business research company Third Bridge, noted that hiring managers pay particular attention to candidates' activity level on LinkedIn — perhaps more so than any other social network.

"If you have five connections on LinkedIn, [it's clear that] your profile is just a placeholder," Lewis said. "Be active. Have multiple connections, follow companies, [become] a member of groups. The depth of your engagement, especially on LinkedIn, stands out to [employers]."

Twitter is the most conversational social platform of these three. The brands and people you engage with directly impact your followers' perception of you, and may affect whether hiring managers believe you're worthy of working for the company or not. What you say and how you say it will have an effect on your job search.

"Twitter is a great place to meet employees and high-level executives. You'd be surprised how many C-level executives run their own Twitter, and are open to having a conversation with you," Copeland said. "It's also a great place to listen to what people are saying about your future company."

The platform also allows you to test the waters of the company and gauge if customers are happy with the service they're receiving.

When you're looking for a job, a good percentage of your tweets, retweets and replies should focus on topics that are relevant to the companies you want to work for. You can achieve this by making use of keywords and hashtags that professionals in your field talk about and follow.

"Make sure you are using the proper hashtags to both be noticed and to take notice of thought leaders in the industry," said Bill Peppler, managing partner at Kavaliro.

Twitter can also be a smart way to contact recruiters and make connections with people who are working for potential employers. Heinz said that replying to these users' tweets, commenting on their tweeted links and sharing any thoughts or links that they might find interesting are good ways to get started. You can also showcase your own knowledge by offering your help to other Twitter users in your field.

"You can show both your authenticity and your ability to fellow users by offering your help, by answering a question or voting on a poll," Heinz said. "Giving assistance by using your career expertise in particular will demonstrate your viability as a job candidate."

While Facebook may be passé to today's high school and college students, the Career Glider infographic said that 83 percent of job seekers are currently on the popular social network. Millennial and Gen X candidates, who likely joined Facebook in their youth, should make an active effort to delete or untag any questionable past content, Heinz said, and ensure that any personal content remains private by using the appropriate settings. To make yourself searchable for hiring managers, what you should make public, he said, are your employment information, location and professional skills/interests.

"Facebook can be a great website for learning more about the people who will interview you. You can also find out whether or not you have common friends with your future hiring manager," Copeland said.

Copeland advises you to keep your own content clean.

"Posting too many unfiltered comments on Facebook can cost you your future job," she added.

"Being active on social media is a critical part of promoting your personal brand [and] industry expertise, and ultimately establishes you as a thought leader in your market sector," Heinz told Business News Daily. "These are all things that not only help you connect with key industry people, but also could lead to a future role."

As with other social networks, engaging with industry-specific communities on Facebook is a great way to connect with other people in your field. If you feel uncomfortable using your existing Facebook profile to join groups and contribute to discussions, Heinz advised creating a separate, "public" profile that only includes professional content.

What is great about social networks like Twitter and Facebook is that they open doors for decision makers to get a glimpse into the true personality of a person and how they might be outside of the office, VanderLind said.

"It's important that this candidate posts appropriate content and exudes a positive, friendly personality that we value in all employees," VanderLind added.  

Additional reporting by Nicole Taylor. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Shannon Gausepohl

Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field, and is currently a staff writer at Business News Daily. Shannon is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.