When I began my first job search, the advice I received from my father was likely very similar to yours: put on a suit, print out 30 copies of your resume, and drop it off at various establishments, preferably to the hiring manager.
All fine advice, except for the fact that almost all hiring has now moved online, and many companies are quite adamant about their "do not call" policies. Without it being acceptable to drop into an office, how does the modern job seeker get a leg up on competition and distinguish themselves from a crowd of applicants? One key avenue to differentiate oneself is through social media and building your personal brand online.
Determine Appropriate Social Channels
As a marketer, I’ve had potential employers ask me for my Twitter handle, my Facebook URL, LinkedIn account, and even my Klout score. However, if I was a designer, developer, or programmer, I may have been asked for my Behance, GitHub, or Stack Overflow account.
If your industry doesn’t have a specific social network, then Twitter and LinkedIn are great spaces to build your professional presence and earn a reputation as an industry thought leader online.
Complete Your Profile
Fill out every possible field on your profile page, and pay attention to all the details like your background photo, your profile picture, and most importantly - your summary description. Treat your social media profiles like interactive resumes. On Twitter, make sure you include a very brief career summary in the bio section, such as “Paralegal in the making” if you’re still in school. On LinkedIn, take advantage of the full summary to really sell yourself and what makes you different. As you complete these profile elements, you are building your personal brand, sharing with the world your expertise, skills, and interests.
Follow Relevant Companies and Recruiters
In addition to building your personal brand, you should also engage with the employer brands of the companies you are interested in. When I was in the thick of the job hunt, I used Twitter lists to group all of the organizations I was interested in. I would do a daily routine of searching these lists to favorite, retweet, and reply to any tweets I could in order to engage with their content and get on their radar. In some cases, my online social media engagement translated into real life conversations and informational interviews with the company's hiring manager.
It’s not enough to just follow your dream workplace on Twitter - you must interact with the recruiter too. At times it can be difficult finding recruiters online, but there are tools available to find the social media profiles of recruiters at specific companies. For example, Social Hire provides this search engine to find them, follow them, and interact with them to get on their radar.
Further, by following recruitment agencies like TPD on Twitter and LinkedIn, you'll be sure to stay informed about the positions they're hiring for and able to submit your application for jobs that fit your profile.
Put yourself in a recruiter's shoes and insert relevant keywords pertaining to your skills, experience, and location into every social network you can think of. It is important to include this in your Google+ page as well. Even though the future of the network is uncertain, it’s still the most searchable social network online, can enhance your personal Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and is a recruiter favorite for sourcing specific skills in need.
Don’t Just Tweet - Impress.
Don’t just tweet for the sake of tweeting, or reply to your dream company’s tweets just to get on their radar. Say something meaningful. Spend time reading books, websites, and blogs in your industry, and then tweet or post on LinkedIn something relevant that you learned, along with some personal commentary.
Build a personal website, even if it's something as simple as an About.me page, and link to it in all your social media profiles so that potential employers can learn more about you. Even if you never get any response, you never know who is watching. One particular company I tweeted at and then later submitted a job application to, commented that they thought it was great I had been interacting with them on Twitter.
Putting a suit on and making the rounds simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Given the presence and prevalence of social media, as a job seeker you can’t afford to dismiss it as a gimmick. So take the time to build your professional employee brand online by building out your social media profiles and engaging in meaningful conversations with others. If you'd like further coaching on how to build your personal brand, contact a TPD Career Consultant!
Ryan Smith, Inbound Marketing Specialist
Ryan is an Inbound Marketing Specialist who specializes in marketing automation and lead generation.