Social Media for Job Seekers - Dos & Don'ts

Use social media effectively in your job search

Dos

  • Use social media to show your knowledge in your field and expand your network. Social media is supposed to be social, so interact! Participate in discussions; ask and answer questions; share info that may interest the people in your networks.
  • If you don't have one already, set up a LinkedIn account, with a strong summary that includes keywords and phrases for skills employers would look for in your industry. Many jobs aren't listed on job boards, and more and more employers are fishing for applicants on LinkedIn by doing searches for those keywords.
  • Join and participate in several groups related to your career interests. LinkedIn has tons of these; choose a few relevant groups and make intelligent comments and/or start conversations (check your spelling and grammar!).
  • Get as many LinkedIn references as you can, and write references for others without being asked. Be specific in the skills and accomplishments you'd like the reference to focus on. You can proofread a written reference and ask the writer to revise it before it goes public, so make sure it says what you want it to say about you.
  • Follow companies in your industry, and "like" them. That way, you can keep track of what's going on in companies you may be interested in, and show your interest.
  • Do searches for keywords relevant to what you're looking for, and connect with people who come up, with whom you have common professional or personal (not TOO personal) interests.
  • Start a Twitter account if you don't already have one. Use a headline relevant to who you are professionally.
  • Do searches for those keywords and relevant companies (and use hashtags*), and follow them.
  • Tweet and retweet links to articles relevant to your followers' interests.
  • Comment on tweets and ask followers relevant questions.

*If you have no idea what the heck a hashtag or retweet is, get going on Twitter to find out!

Don'ts

  • Don't forget that everything you put online stays out there somewhere, and anyone— prospective employers, former bosses, etc.— can see it. So any questionable photos, potentially offensive comments, criticisms against current or former employers, etc. may come back to haunt you.
  • Don't use a physical attribute-flaunting photo better suited to a dating site than a professional networking site, on any website you intend to use to network and find possible job leads. Yes, that includes Facebook, which more and more employers are using to find more in-depth info on job applicants. You don't have to wear a 3-piece suit in your photos, but at least business-casual dress.
  • Don't refer to yourself in your LinkedIn profile or Twitter headline as "unemployed" or "job seeker." Identify yourself instead as who you are professionally, in terms of the type of job you're looking for ("financial professional knowledgeable about investments"). It doesn't matter if you're not currently employed in that field.
  • Don't throw every noun you can think of to describe yourself in your Twitter profile. Focus on the relevant ones you'd want an employer to see. Rather than, "Public relations professional, social media expert, reality show addict, chocoholic, wife, mother, sister, second-cousin-in-law"—stop after "social media expert."
  • Don't forget to check out Google Plus, Pinterest, and other social networking sites too—Pinterest especially if your field is visual, like architecture or web design.
  • Don't just broadcast stuff. Social media has "social" in its name for a reason, so interact with people in your network.
  • Don't start an account and never update it. Keeping up with your social media accounts is time-consuming, but you generally get what you put into it. You don't have to spend time on every site every day; a few times a week is fine. It looks better to prospective employers to stay active on two or three sites than to have skimpy profiles on many and rarely visit them.

For more in-depth info on using LinkedIn in your job search, check out our "LinkedIn Basics" workshop, or sign up for a one-on-one LinkedIn profile critique.