Add social media to your job hunt

Social media is not only helpful in the modern day job search, it should be an essential component of any job seeker's toolbox.

A recent survey published by The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) found that use of social media for recruiting has grown from 56% of organizations in 2011 to 84% in 2016. Moreover, the percentage of organizations using social media to screen candidates grew from 18% in 2011 to now 43%. With almost all employers recruiting on social media, and almost half of all employers reviewing candidates' social media profile prior to making a job offer, today's job seeker has to establish a social media presence, and maintain that presence, to stay competitive in the market and make a good impression with potential employers.

(Source: SHRM Using Social Media For Talent Acquisition)

Keeping in mind that most employers use social media when searching for and screening applicants, potential candidates should look beyond the career-oriented sites and applications. It's important to create and cultivate a personal brand and build a strong professional network across both strong and weak ties. Strong ties are typically found in symmetrical networking tools such as LinkedIn and Facebook, whereas weak ties are typically found in asymmetrical tools such as Twitter.

The difference between strong ties and weak ties is critical when it comes to job searching. Simply defined, a strong tie is a "friend" and a weak tie is an "acquaintance." The benefit to tapping a friend network in a job hunt is that they are more likely to extend discretionary effort on your behalf – referring to opportunities, making a connection, or advocating for your consideration for an open position. The downside is you probably know about most of the opportunities that they do; if they are truly a strong tie, you likely know many of the same people and therefore have multiple channels to hear about the same opportunities your strong ties might surface.

Weak ties solve the "overlap" problem. Since you don't know your acquaintances or their networks as intimately, you're more likely to discover unique opportunities among your weak ties. On the downside, they are less likely to be a strong advocate for you given the more tenuous nature of the relationship. The best option is to leverage them together – discover new opportunities via weak ties and then leverage strong ties to see if you have a way into the opportunity via stronger friendship connections.

While much has been written about networking and job hunting via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, Twitter provides a unique benefit as one of the most robust asymmetric networking platforms in the world. An asymmetric network is one where both parties don't need to agree to the connection request. Stated more simply, it's a network where someone can follow without a requirement to be followed back.

In general practice, Facebook is more of a symmetrical network where both parties need to agree to a bi-directional relationship. Facebook therefore tends to be skewed toward strong ties while Twitter skews much more heavily toward weak ties. By using both, you can maximize your search success.

Consider these best practices on Twitter and Facebook:

Twitter
Twitter allows you to connect with people by "following them," along with the ability to search public tweets to find relevant content. This can be based on common interests or experiences and is a great way to participate in online networking. Twitter has become an excellent utility to connect directly with recruiters and employees at companies where you'd like to work. By conducting Twitter searches and following recruiters, you start to learn a lot about them and their companies. In fact, many companies now post their open positions in their Twitter feed.

Before you begin engaging on Twitter, you need a completed profile. This includes a short bio, your location, and a link to a site that recruiters can go to for more information (e.g. your LinkedIn profile).

Other ways to employ Twitter in your job search:
Basic Networking: You can connect to people who share you areas of interest and learn about jobs available at companies of interest. You can connect with people who may know about jobs that you might not otherwise hear about. Even if they don't follow you back, you can still uncover valuable insights about your industry and open positions.
Social Brand: Use your Twitter account to publish or link to relevant industry news or interesting content. The fastest way to get followed back is to provide a valuable stream of content, and later when job opportunities begin to come your way, your profile will reflect well on your industry expertise and awareness of key happenings in your space.
Job Postings: You can also use Twitter advanced search (https://twitter.com/search-advanced) to geo-target tweets, find relevant accounts to follow, and discover job listings that have been tweeted. For example, you can run a search for tweets that include the phrase "marketing job" within a certain radius of where you live.
Connecting: When someone follows you or you follow them, read their bio. If they work somewhere you might be interested in, or if you think they might be someone who could connect you to others, get in touch with them directly via Direct Messages.
Tweet Chats: Look for relevant Tweet Chats related to your job search and then actively participate and network / follow with your fellow chat participants. As appropriate, leverage these relationships to ask about opportunities or advice about entering a new field or applying at a specific company.
Companies: Twitter tools like Twellow or WeFollow will help you find people and accounts that may be useful during your job search. These tools search Twitter bios and URLs – for example, you can do a search for a company of interest and it will locate people from that company who are on Twitter.
Twitter Profile: It is recommended that your Twitter name be your name or a variation of it so that you can be easily found in search results, and that you use a current headshot as a profile photo. Your bio can be as simple as mentioning your alma mater and the industry you're interested in. In the "Website" section of your Twitter profile you can include a link to your Linkedin profile.

Facebook
Most people use Facebook primarily for connecting with friends and family, or for reconnecting with people from their past, but it can also be an effective professional networking tool. Consider the following:
Status Update: You can post regular status updates relating to your job search to keep it at the forefront of your friends' minds such as, "Great interview this morning...fingers crossed!"
Personal Content Marketing: As with Twitter, not all of your posts should be about your day-to-day job search activities. Find, curate, and post content related to the field, industry, and profession you are interested in to illustrate your interests, experience and career aspirations.
Facebook Search: Facebook's search capabilities make it one of the most useful networking tools. You can identify who, among your friends, works at a specific company simply by typing in a query Facebook's navigation bar. Simply type "friends who work at Google" and will list all of your connections who have identified Google as an employer in their profile.

Connect the Dots
If you uncover a new opportunity via a weak tie, try to leverage your strong ties in LinkedIn or Facebook to see if you have a pathway into that opportunity through connections who might broker a conversation or advocate on your behalf. Candidates are often surprised to learn that a good friend is connected to someone at a company where they aspire to work. Once you identify an opportunity, thoroughly explore your network for hidden connections and relationships.

Keep Your Profiles Current
Updating and optimizing your social media profile is important because it makes you searchable. The next time a hiring manager or recruiter scours the social web to find candidates with your similar work history and background, make sure you come up in those search results.

Following are a few recommendations to keep your social content fresh, professional, and top-of-mind:
Add or change your online image/photo: Get one taken professionally, and use it consistently across each of your social media profiles.
Actively engage new followers and relevant people on Twitter: Say hello, re-tweet content along with your comments and become an active member of the community.
Remind people of your job search objectives: Remind people about the specific details of your target job or company.

Finally, continue to assess and communicate your evolving personal brand. As you learn more about yourself through assessments, interviews, networking and other interactions, update your summary on your social media sites.

Happy hunting!

HealthcareSource is the leading provider of talent management solutions for the healthcare industry.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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