So everyone keeps telling you to “use social media” to expand your job search. Great. But how, exactly, are you supposed to do that – in a way that doesn’t backfire on you? (Yes, you’re right to worry about the backfiring. Sudden heaps of chaotic tweets or endless streams of haphazardly composed emails do harm your prospects.)
Let me put it this way: even if you forget every tips I’ve shared, below, remember one concept. Your online presence is already portraying you in a certain way to prospective employers. So get it all under control. And make all necessary changes. Now.
Here are 5 Steps to help you do that.
1. Tidy up! Tidy everything up!
Ideally, you’ve completed a thorough job of housecleaning with your all of your social media and professional networking accounts before initiating any job search activities. But if you haven’t, now’s the time. By everything, I mean everything. Start with the names of your accounts. You need email, twitter, instagram and Facebook accounts and a LinkedIn profile with your name consistently displayed on all of them. These will be your professionally branded accounts. Retire or hide everything else, especially accounts that may, in any way, suggest a less than professional persona. More importantly, go through all content of all of your professionally branded accounts and scrub away everything that fails to support your professional goals. This includes posts, retweets, photos, videos. Everything.
2. Define your Professional Brand.
If this sounds intimidating, don’t let it scare you. If you answer the following 5 questions, you’ll have a solid sense of your own professional brand.
What’s your ideal next job? Think in terms of all that matters most to you, including:
- Employer values
- Challenges you most enjoy taking on
- Work environment
- Future opportunities
- What are you really, truly best at?
- What do you want to grow into – or learn to do better?
- What kind of job do you know you never want to do?
- Name the 3-5 biggest successes you’ve ever delivered for an employer (or other stakeholder group).
3. Create a Social Media Content Strategy
Yep. That means that, even if you don’t want a job in marketing, you’re in a marketing job right now. Sticking closely to the preferences, needs, values and goals you outlined for yourself in Step 2, above, build better content and keep it posting. Find, read, curate and post interesting articles. Retweet work-appropriate tweets. Forward links to everyone on your professional network. If you’re a decent writing and you like writing, consider penning a few of your articles or essays. You’ll not only be educating yourself, you’ll be establishing yourself as an expert with an important point of view.
4. Continuously Expand your Network
All of the above activities make this a lot easier to do. As you transform your online presence into a powerful professional branding tool, use it to reach out to everyone in your extended social and professional networks – both past and present. Create an email distribution list for your job search and set a goal for growing that list with meaningful contacts. When initiating communication with someone with whom you’ve lost contact, don’t be coy. I can tell you from personal experience, there are few things as irritating as receiving an email from someone pretending they’re only trying to rekindle a friendship. I’m never bothered when a former colleague seeks my support as they face a career change. I am annoyed when they beat around the bush. Keep it positive, gracious and grateful. Make it clear that you’re considering a job change and spell out the kind of support you’re requesting.
5. Update Constantly
Your resume can remain fairly stable. But if you’re serious about this strategy, you’ll need to commit to regular updates of the content on your sites. That means posting, retweeting and emailing at least weekly. More often is better.
Is creating (and sustaining) a new social media strategy a lot of work? Sure. Is it worth it? Absolutely. And now that you’ve seen the steps broken down, you know you can do it. So get online and market yourself. Your future employer is waiting to hear about you.