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Does using Social Media to get a job sound impossible? On the contrary, it’s a great job search tool, used the right way.
Some time ago I found myself looking for a job (again). This time, I relied on social media to help me find the job, and I have been happily employed for a few months. Here’s what I learned from the experience that you can probably apply to your own job search.
I prefer to look for jobs on LinkedIn as compared to regular job portals, for several reasons:
Ease: It’s part of my regular networking – I go on LinkedIn anyway to build connections, to participate in discussions, and to find interesting news and blog posts. Looking at relevant job posts seems like a natural extension of that activity.
Relevance: LinkedIn usually does a good job of showing me relevant jobs based on my profile and what I’ve applied to in the past.
Complete profile: Applying through LinkedIn means that not just my resume and cover letter go to the job poster, but they can also easily look up my profile. So there’s more context about my work, with my updates, groups I subscribe to, connections, and endorsements and recommendations presenting a more complete picture of my “work personality”.
Context: The most important thing is that LinkedIn does such a great job of showing other relevant information around the job itself. I can look up the company page and look at recent updates – especially important as I am interested in marketing jobs. LinkedIn shows me how I’m connected to the job poster; and even if I’m not, it’s easy to search my connections and see if anyone else works in the same organization.
In this case, the job that struck my attention immediately and looked like something I’d be really happy doing was at a large company. Coincidentally, I know a few people who work there, but most interestingly, I knew someone in the marketing team.
I like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – the primary social media sites I frequent – for different reasons, but nothing beats Twitter for serendipitous conversations. While LinkedIn is great for focused professional discussions, Twitter isn’t so structured. This has the effect of making conversations – just by yourself, with just one other person, or with multiple people – possible and fun.
I started on Twitter some years ago, and follow many marketing people. With some, I’ve had enough conversations that they seem like friends. One such Twitter friend had till recently been in the marketing team at this company I wanted to apply for. After a couple of DMs back and forth, I sent him my resume with a cover letter that he could forward to the hiring manager.
Ask a Manager has great tips on writing a cover letter, and I’ve learned a lot from her posts. But what probably helps my case more is my online footprint. I have many blog posts about marketing on various sites, and I include a few relevant links depending on the job I apply to. This not only demonstrates my writing skills (a very important aspect of the kind of jobs I’m interested in) but since I write about marketing, also demonstrates that I know something of the subject.
At least this time, my resume, cover letter, writing samples, and the test I took all spoke for me well enough that my interviews turned out to be more of informal conversations.
So how exactly does this long personal story help you? To sum up, here are some learnings about finding a job through online means:
Start networking. Networking after you’re in need of a job is probably too late. Make your connections and keep in touch through relevant discussions – respond to what they say on social media, send them links to articles they might be interested in, ask them questions about their work. More or less what you’d do to get to know people offline – the means differ, that’s all.
Build your brand. It’s clichéd advice, but building your personal brand helps. If you have some kind of online portfolio that demonstrates your expertise, it’s much more powerful than your resume. If nothing else, build your LinkedIn profile: include your work accomplishments, ask for recommendations, and build connections in your industry.
Ask for a referral. There are so many applications for any job that it’s difficult for your resume (let alone that carefully crafted cover letter) to even get seen by the hiring manager. Getting referred by an employee in the company or by someone the hiring manager knows is a great way to get your resume noticed (so that it can then do its job and get you an interview call). Don’t be shy about asking for a referral.
Pic credit: Dean Myers (Used under a CC license)