Thought Leadership

Attention Shoppers! Clean Up On Aisle Nine...

How to use (or not use) social media in your job search

This message is for all job hunters, and those considering a career transition: Is social media the right avenue to use for your job search? The answer is a resounding yes, but as the saying goes "Buyer Beware." For job seekers today social media allows you to build a brand and expand your outreach, faster than ever imagined. However, there are potential pitfalls in using social media. Understanding how to use, and not use social media, is vitally important to managing your brand. Moreover, it can provide a significant advantage, or disadvantage, if not used in the correct way.

Let's start with LinkedIn. It has no doubt revolutionized the job-search process, for both those seeking work, as well as those organizations and recruiters seeking candidates. LinkedIn today has 133+ million users in the US alone. It has been around longer than Facebook and remains the number one site for those looking to network and develop business connections. Members have the ability to build out a profile page, which allows them to showcase themselves, much more than the traditional resume ever could. One of the advantages of the profile page is that it provides you the ability to share videos, presentations, professional status updates, and even blog postings, allowing you to create a "brand" for yourself and the platform to market that brand.

This is where pitfall number one comes in!

Some individuals have been known to take liberties in how they present themselves on LinkedIn. Honesty here is absolutely critical, even if you don't think you are being fact checked. This information is visible by all LinkedIn members! Prospective employers will often check out a candidate's LinkedIn page. Never put anything on LinkedIn that you cannot stand behind. This electronic connection to the world is today's version of "this is your life." Honesty and truthfulness are of paramount importance when you post anything on social media, particularly LinkedIn.

And what about pitfall number two?

I have seen gainfully employed LinkedIn users post on their LinkedIn page that they are interested in, and open to new opportunities. Your employer can see this...they likely will not see this as positive, questioning your loyalty and commitment. Imagine for a moment your boss sees a pop up on their LinkedIn feed (assuming you are LinkedIn to him or her) that you are interested in new opportunities? Not good! If you are actively engaged in a job search, be careful with what you post on your profile page about your job search and career intentions. Everyone can see this.

Is it possible to carry out a confidential job search while still employed? Absolutely, but make sure you are using good judgement in how you execute the search. What is good judgement? Well, for starters don't post on LinkedIn you hate your job and desire another one. Also, don't pass your resume to every single recruiter that requests it. Unless there is a specific opportunity, and you know and trust the recruiter requesting your resume, do not willingly share your information with them. Your resume is part of your personal brand, contains confidential information and should not be passed around unknowingly.

Lastly, what is pitfall number three?

Using social media, particularly LinkedIn or Facebook, to grandstand and advertise your political, religious and/or social views is at the heart of pitfall number three. Recently, social media has been on fire with political and social commentary. There is absolutely no problem with being vocal and having passion and opinions, but using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to proselytize those views is not wise. Unless you are running for political office or engaged with a social cause through a charity, this in not the right platform to express your views and solicit support.

Job hunters and those in career transition can use social media to their advantage. In many ways, it's a gateway to the world. LinkedIn is the modern-day version of your network, replacing the old rolodex. It allows you to build your brand, access a vast number of contacts and participate in professional industry groups with a simple stroke of the key on your computer. Posting a blog on professional topics is also an effective way to enhance your brand.

Launching an effective job search or career transition takes planning, as well as having a carefully thought out strategy. Social media is a powerful tool at your disposal to use, but must be used in the correct way. Always be mindful of the potential pitfalls when using social media.

Until next time...

Jim Ward

August 6, 2019