Getting a job is hard. Between the countless hours spent crafting cover letters that no one reads and anxiously checking your email to see if you’re on to the next round of interviews, a job hunt can be frustrating.
But as the job climate is shifting, so is the way applicants are getting those jobs. Your online portfolio is just as important as your resume, and what you post online can affect your chances of getting hired.
In a survey released last month, the recruiting platform Jobvite reported that 94 percent of recruiters rely on social recruiting when looking for candidates. The company also stated the businesses that found new hires on social media had better candidate quality and quantity.
People are increasingly using social tools to get hired. In fact, the last three positions I’ve held started with a simple tweet. However, there is a strategic way to go about it; you can spend hours blasting resume buckshot to the entire Internet, or you can tailor your message and master a plan of attack so that you’re meeting the right people at the right time.
“What we’re looking for in the social world are indicators that show you have some expertise in whatever you say you do,” said Shon Burton, former recruiter and founder and CEO of HiringSolved.
Burton’s company crawls the web to find everything a person has posted online, and narrows that down to information that is relevant to employers. The conversation you’re having on social media, he said, is significant to the outcome of your job search.
What Does It Take?
We’ve all heard the advice: “Brand yourself”; “Become a thought leader”; “Build a large following”. While this information is advantageous to a select few power users, this advice can be hard for the average person to implement, and isn’t relevant to all job searches.
So here are a few ways you can get the outcome you want in any industry without stressing too much about the buzzwords.
Decide Who You Are
You should be a person, not a product. It’s important to establish what defines you and what your future career goals are before you embark on the journey to find one. A logo or tagline can be cute and catchy, but what really matters is the qualities you bring to the position that will have the greatest impact. What are your skills? What is your passion? This should be clear on your website, Twitter profile, LinkedIn account or About.me. If a viewer has to muddle about to understand your skills, they will quickly move on.
The hiring managers and recruiters skimming through potential employees will be looking for proof that you’re enthusiastic about what you do. Portfolios and side projects demonstrate passion, and passionate people generally become great hires.
Quick tip: Your profile picture should be your headshot. It makes you easily recognizable and allows people to connect with the real you, instantly.
Build Meaningful, Lasting Relationships
Networking isn’t just about finding people that will help you get a job. Sometimes the most successful “networking,” outcomes are a result of simply asking someone to meet for coffee because you like what she writes on Medium. Sharing ideas with someone you respect or admire is a great way to practice icebreakers and thoughtful discussion, and will ultimately expand your network for future references.
Remember to work on those relationships. Nurture them, even when you don't think they will benefit your career goals. You never know how the acquaintances you make will affect your future; so make sure you treasure each one.
Quick tip: “I’d love to meet up and talk about [the industry] with you!” is a perfectly fine way to kick off the conversation.
Don’t Beg For It
If your entire feed is made up entirely of replies to potential employers asking them to hire you, you’re doing it wrong. Followers find this behavior annoying, and it buries any conversation you’ve had in the past. Reaching out on social media might drive people to your profile, but if there are no recent relevant links or conversations, recruiters won't recognize your value.
Instead of replying with, “I’d love to work for you!” try sending them, “I just did something that’s exactly what you’re looking for. Here’s a link to it.” Make sure the link points to your website or portfolio that includes a description of what you do as well as your contact information.
Quick tip: Advertise that you’re looking for a job, but avoid looking like a job hunt bot.
Feel free to express yourself online. As we all know, posting risqué, demeaning, inappropriate, or downright mean photos or statements on your social profiles immediately puts you out of favor with hiring managers. However, highlighting your personality in conversation is recommended.
People enjoy working alongside others that have a sense of humor, contribute to thoughtful discussions, or have interesting hobbies. Once you get hired you shouldn’t make the job your life, so there is no reason you can’t share your life outside your job, too. Plus, if you and your interviewer share common interests outside of the company, you leave a memorable impression.
Quick tip: People like charisma, humor and intelligence. People don’t like this.
Develop And Demonstrate Expertise
Validate yourself as an expert by participating in discussion, maintaining a blog or website, and providing feedback on the topics you have experience in. Search for discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter and participate with your own opinions and feedback.
“You can build an expertise on Twitter, Quora, Stack Overflow or Facebook and people really take notice of it,” Burton said. “It starts to be recognized as a better indicator of what a person can really do.”
For example, the #journchat on Twitter every Monday brings together journalists, public relations professionals and other writers to talk about the industry. Twitter or LinkedIn chats are a great way to meet like-minded people and demonstrate your passion and interest in select industries. Jobs are posted frequently in these chats as well, which becomes an additional outlet for your job search.
Quick tip: Listen as much as you participate. There is no better way to find out how to break in to a business than learning from professional peers.
Stick With It
It's easy to get discouraged, especially if you've spent countless hours submitting applications. Not every person you reach out to will respond, and if you're like most Americans, you might be at it for 18 weeks.
As you spend time looking for a new position, make sure you're pruning your personal projects and online profiles. For most people, a Google search is the first step to an introduction, especially with potential employees. Take the time to perfect your online presence, and the offers will begin to come.
Image courtesy Flikr/chluna, via CC license.