Think social media is just about posting funny videos and letting everyone know what you had for breakfast? Sure, it can be used in that way, but used in the right way, social media can be an important tool in your job search.
We hear a lot about how you should be careful how you use social media, because prospective employers may look at your profile (and do you really want a potential future boss to see a photo of you on spring break?). But you can use social media to help further your career or find a job. Here are some ways to take advantage of your social media profile to boost your career.
Build your network
It used to be that you could only dream of interacting with, for example, the owner of a leading company. But through Twitter and other social media, a quick tweet to them, and you may get a direct reply. You no longer need to count on making a cold call or possibly meeting at an industry event. In fact, you may even come to know people by their Twitter handles more than their actual names. You can learn a great deal about the people you want to add to your network by following them, which can facilitate conversation should you actually meet them in person at an event or at a job interview.
Creating and promoting yourself as a leader or expert in a certain field — be it through a blog, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn — will influence how a potential employer views and is impressed by you. You can establish yourself as a knowledgeable, current and progressive thinker through what you post on your blog about the state of your field, for example.
Discover job opportunities
Follow key people and companies in your industry, and you may come across tweets or Facebook updates announcing job opportunities — ones that may not have been posted in more traditional means — so you’ll beat out tons of other candidates who haven’t tapped into social media. Through your professional network on LinkedIn, for example, you can recommend and be recommended for positions along with discovering job openings.
Take it beyond social media
If you’ve been corresponding through social media with a certain industry contact for some time, don’t be afraid to propose meeting for a lunch or at the next annual conference for a drink to further the discussion (after all, there’s only so much you can discuss in 140 characters on Twitter or through messaging on Facebook). Before you know it, you’ll have forged a new working relationship, and often it’s all about who you know, as they say.