The conventional wisdom these days is that social media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube – is critical for every business interaction, especially for job-hunting.
Let’s get realistic.
There are defensive and offensive elements to your social media strategy. Let’s start with putting up a good defense.
Yes, potential employers will check you out on the web. A recent study showed that 98% are using the web to assist their decisions, although which tools they use vary quite a bit. The top of the list, of course, is Google and other similar search engines.
For me, that’s one of the most important, because I have a unique name. If you Google me, you’ll find stuff I’ve published and things that are talking about me. I can’t avoid it, so I’d better have that look professional.
If you have an extremely common name, web searches might be a useless exercise. That’s where the social networking sites become a primary resource.
The best exercise you should do is to search for yourself as if you just had the information on your résumé. It’s surprising how quickly you can find the correct Facebook and LinkedIn page, assuming you have a presence there. Do these pages show a representation which is consistent with what you’d like prospective employers to see? They don’t have to be limited to your professional presence – it’s OK to have a life – but you don’t want them to be UNprofessional.
You also want to look at the offense element to your social media strategy.
In this case, you want to promote your social media presence as an integrated part of your job search. This is especially useful if you’re looking for jobs where companies might value your relationships, influence, and published information.
Let’s say that you want to promote that you’ve made contributions to your profession, not just your boss. If you are connected to others in your field, I would expect you to be involved in industry groups, to be linked up to other industry leaders, and to have published blogs or articles which address significant issues in the field. I would expect to see a history built over the course of months and years, not just some things you uploaded last week.
So if you think you might be looking for a more influential job in a couple of years, that means you might need to start linking up to people NOW, and to start blogging and linking so that you’ll have a useful body of work when you’re out there looking.
Of course, remember that your CURRENT employer will also be monitoring your activity, so don’t be publishing anything that puts them in a bad light. People HAVE been fired for that, with good reason.
What if you’re not looking for a job where people might expect you to have a web presence? Well, it’s possible that you might build more credibility than other job-hunters by being more active. But maybe not. If hiring managers don’t care, that’s fine – then just focus on the defensive elements.
But whatever you do, don’t assume that people aren’t seeing what you do. If it’s out there, assume people are looking at it.
It’s social media.
by Carl Dierschow