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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 1 November, 2014

Opinion: Social media can help you find a job (if you use it correctly)

Job hunting in the internet age can be tricky – here’s how to put your best foot forward on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Aoife Rigney

MODERN DAY JOB hunting has changed completely, long gone are the days when everyone was poring over the job section in the local newspaper or even a recruitment agency. There are many new ways that you can learn about an industry, research a company, and contact potential employers.

You may already be on social networking sites, but may never have considered them as job searching tools. Your social media job hunt should start by creating online profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. These sites are a great place to start looking for a career. There are, however, a few things that you need to do to make your profiles employer-friendly.

It’s no secret that these are challenging economic times for everyone. Social media websites don’t do the job hunting for you, but they do make it possible to build connections and leverage those connections to make contact with potential employers. Social media also allows you hear about possible job opportunities as soon as they arise. For example, the hashtag #jobfairy on Twitter is used by employers to share job opportunities and jobs are posted on a daily basis.

Which network?

Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can open doors for job hunters. Learn how to use social media to present yourself professionally and find useful leads. These sites can be a real help when job hunting, however just having social media profiles set up won’t do all the work for you; you need to be actively networking. You must be strategic and proactive in how you use social media.

Set up your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts if you don’t already have them. Be sure to have a professional picture, clear description and biography, and fill out all the information necessary. You are creating your own personal brand. Remember that everything you do online is public so always be professional.

Establish what your online personal brand is right now. Have you ever Googled yourself? If not, do it today. Potential employers will always Google potential employees. Your ‘digital footprint’ will tell its own story!

When it comes to actually trying to get a job, LinkedIn is probably most useful. It is a great way to get an online CV that showcases your experience and skills, previous projects and even some of your achievements in extracurricular activities. LinkedIn is a great tool for researching companies, connecting with key people in a company, and engaging with industry related groups.

Complete your profile as fully as possible, and then put the link to it on your email footer, on Facebook, on your Twitter bio … even on your ‘real’ CV. Update your profile regularly with examples of activities that could enhance your employability. Look at people in jobs you’d like to do, for ideas on how best to present yourself.

Making contacts

Blogging is a fantastic way to showcase your expertise in the area of interest to you. Blog regularly, manage comments and respond appropriately. And remember to always check your grammar and spelling before you hit post.

Facebook is probably the least popular social network to use to find a job. Facebook is the place where we all relax a little bit and, yes, we share lots of photos too. If you’re using Facebook to interact with potential employers, ensure they only see things that fit your professional image. Some would say that Facebook is probably best kept mainly for personal use. However, recruiters and employers definitely use it to research potential employees – so make sure your privacy settings are updated regularly.

The great thing about social media is that it lets you communicate with people you might not meet in real life. Create your own networks by making contact with people who work at companies you’re interested in. Build your network by investing the time in conversations and building relationships with people. Interact with people: learn from them and show what you can contribute. Have conversations with like-minded people and build virtual relationships – in fact, this is often easier online than in person. Make sure people know you are looking for work, don’t be afraid to mention it every so often.

Quick tips:

  • Use your real name – not an alias;
  • Be active on a number of different social media platforms;
  • Demonstrate your expertise, insights and opinions in the industry of interest to you;
  • Share information about the industry such as industry related news;
  • Be careful not to spam people – don’t ask everyone for a job (don’t expect an immediate job offer, these things take time);
  • Don’t just rely on social media; be sure to network offline too;
  • Everything you put here is in the public domain so be careful when choosing your profile names or leaving comments.

Aoife Rigney is digital marketing and social media strategist, advisor, trainer and event speaker. She is a regular blogger and was shortlisted for the Blog Awards Ireland 2013 for Best Blog of an SME.

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