Social media aren’t just for posting selfies, following celebrities and creeping your exes (and their exes). If used properly, they can be great resources for expanding your social network, establishing your personal brand and finding the job you want—not just one that pays the bills. If you want to stand out from the competition and land that dream job, follow these 10 new steps for getting hired in a digital world.
1 Brand Yourself
Think of your job search as a marketing campaign—the objective is to get people interested in the brand of you. Figure out what type of employers you want to attract and develop your brand around this audience. For example, if you want to be a political journalist, make sure your blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. reflects your passion for politics and represents your skills authentically. Lauren Friese, the founder of TalentEgg.ca—a popular online career resource for students and graduates—suggests that once you have determined the industry you’re interested in, begin making meaningful contributions to it by starting your own industry-related publication, such as a website or a blog. “Once you start to build credibility in an industry or career path, it’s easy to make connections as you’ll be able to reach out to those influential people with some credibility,” explains Friese.
In order to successfully align your social networking activity with your professional image, you will need to identify your social media brand voice—the character, tone, style and purpose of your brand. For example, your character can be playful or inspiring; your tone can be personal or direct; you can use language that is complex or fun; and your purpose can either entertain or educate. By determining your online voice, you will create a brand that will resonate with your target audience. Your message should be professional and consistent across all platforms, including your personal accounts.
2 Build Your Online Influence
In a crowded employment marketplace, where you stand in the social influence hierarchy could be the deciding factor between you and your dream job. Influence is not the same thing as popularity—you don’t need 5,000 followers to be influential online. What you do need is to create meaningful content that strikes a chord with your followers and motivates them to share your website, Twitter feed, and more. Unless an employer is recruiting for a role that requires promotion, the number of followers you have is not important, says Friese. “What is important is the quality of your online presence and what it says about you in turn.” A great tool for measuring your social influence is Klout, a website that calculates your online reach by using data from your social networks to gauge your Klout score.
3 LinkedIn is your Best Friend
Jeff Gaulin, who runs one of Canada’s leading online media job boards—Jeff Gaulin’s Journalism Job Board—says that more people are recruited online, via LinkedIn, than through all other social media channels combined. “Every employer these days almost certainly does two online searches of any prospective employee: Google and LinkedIn,” says Gaulin.“Early in your career you want to minimize the appearance of any risk associated with your employment and maximize the opportunity.”
Gaulin advises job-hunters to always keep their LinkedIn profile polished and professional. A completed profile that includes your headshot, contact information, and a full listing of jobs and education, sends a very positive message to employers. Also make sure your profile can be found easily by adjusting your settings to make it visible on search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
4 Harness the Power of Social Proof
Social proof—the testimonials, recommendations and endorsements of your skills—significantly enhances your credibility as a candidate. Why? Because companies have a very low level of risk tolerance when hiring employees. By including endorsements and testimonials on your LinkedIn and other social networking profiles, you will reduce the perceived risk of you as a candidate.
5 Clean Up Your Online Reputation
Even if you maintain separate personal and professional identities online, any information you share can potentially be made accessible or public to others. There is no longer such a thing as a ‘privacy setting’ online; if you don’t want employers to see the photos of you winning a beer pong competition—don’t post them!
“There are no moral judgments in a Google search, so your crazy antics on Facebook could be given as much—if not more—credence by a prospective employer than your new LinkedIn profile,” warns Gaulin. “Create an online identity and stick to it, aligning all your online behaviors to that brand.”
6 Leverage Your Social Networks
Do you know people who know people? Networking has always been the most successful way people find jobs, and digital networking makes it even easier. Tap into your social network to figure out who your second- and third-degree connections are. Use apps like BranchOut, BeKnown and InTheDoor to leverage your Facebook networks by discovering which employers your friends are connected to.
Don’t hijack celebrities’ latest hashtags to promote your URL or use irrelevant trending topics just to #get #some #followers. That type of behaviour will only annoy people, not intrigue them. Instead, use Twitter to locate job opportunities by searching for terms that apply to the job you want and the location; for example, “photographer” and “Toronto.” You can also search hashtags to find general career advice or to network with recruiting managers at companies you want to work for.
8 Emulate Your Idols
Use your favourite online personalities as your e-mentors (a Kardashian doesn’t count). Figure out their social media styles and what makes them influential. What brand voice do they use? Are they witty, sarcastic or shrewd? What are they doing that makes them stand out from the rest? Some suggestions: Sean Gardner, Jessica Northey and Aaron Lee.
9 Ditch the Paper Resume for a Digital Portfolio
University of Guelph-Humber alumna Adara Doherty landed her job as Online Content Coordinator for View The Vibe in an unconventional way: “I used an electronic portfolio, instead of a traditional resume, to include all of my best written material and work from my time at Guelph-Humber,” she explains. Doherty’s portfolio includes an “About Me” page that functions as a cover letter and resume, as well as links to her social networking profiles and blog. Doherty also suggests creating a video to introduce yourself and using YouTube to promote it.
10 Maximize Your Online Profile
“If you want the content on your social media website to go viral, you need to make sure all your different profiles are connected,” says Doherty. “Make sure you have social buttons that can lead your followers to all your different accounts, such as your Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, your website and so on.”
Doherty suggests that the most important strategy is making sure your online persona is consistent throughout all these avenues—you want to appear as the same person on Facebook as you do on LinkedIn. Another tip: Content maintenance—keep your content updated by covering the latest trending topics and current events that will engage your audience and have them coming back for more.