by Alexandra Janvey, former Head Editor, INALJ Iowa
previously published 6/24/13
Using Social Media for the Job Search
Social media has become an increasingly popular pastime within the last few years. However, sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can also be utilized professionally as an effective job search tool. Social media is just another avenue for job seekers to market themselves and develop a network of connections. It allows the job seeker to demonstrate their worth in a different way than the resume, cover letter, or even the portfolio does. These sites allow individuals to demonstrate their knowledge, and also allow a personality to shine through, along with skills and interests. In addition, the number of employers using social media sites to recruit and advertise positions has increased.
A strong online presence is beneficial for several reasons. Having active social media accounts shows that you are tech savvy, which has become important in the library science field, and is an in-demand skill. Libraries and other related organizations have also been using social media as an outreach tool for their patrons. Being able to demonstrate that you are current with technology and proficient in the use of social media is a good skill to possess. Having profiles on these sites also makes you more visible to those in your field, including hiring managers. The real strength of these social media websites is that they allow you to reach and connect with others on a different level than ordinary networking. These different social media sites are designed to be easy to use, and there are plenty of tutorials online that can provide extra help if it’s needed.
LinkedIn is a social media site designed primarily for professional use. You can use it to connect with others in your field, and display your job history, skills, recommendations and even some samples of your work, if you are so inclined. LinkedIn also allows you to research industries, companies, and positions of interests. There are several LinkedIn features designed to enhance your profile and are worth exploring.
There are a lot of different perspectives on who to connect with on LinkedIn. Some people will connect with anyone that sends an invitation, while others are more selective. The more selective individuals will only connect with people that they have actually worked with in some capacity. It all depends on personal preference. The people who would be good to connect with on LinkedIn include classmates, anyone you’ve worked with either currently or in the past, supervisors, collaborators, or even professionals you’ve met at conferences. LinkedIn makes it easy to search for people and find the connections you seek.
When sending a LinkedIn invitation to connect, always personalize the message that goes with it. Include why you want to connect and how you know the person. People will often need a reminder of how you know each other, especially if some time has passed or it was in a situation like a conference where they likely met and talked with many different people. Be honest when explaining the reasons you wish to connect. If you wish to connect with someone to talk about a becoming a legal librarian and they have a lot of expertise in the field, explain that in the LinkedIn invitation’s message. Most will be happy to accept an invitation for this reason, even if they usually only connect with people they have worked with at one point or met in-person. They are willing to make certain exceptions, as long as there is a good reason for it.
LinkedIn groups are a useful feature that you want to utilize. Don’t just make a LinkedIn profile and stop there. Join groups that are relevant to your field and interests. Follow and participate in the group discussions. Share your experiences and knowledge; you may have more to say than you realize. You can gain recognition by participating in the discussions and become known amongst others in your field.
LinkedIn Recommendations make your profile and reputation stronger. Ask for recommendations from connections at every opportunity and within a reasonable amount of time since working with them. Unlike regular letters of recommendation, the recommendations on LinkedIn can be short and brief. Writing this type of recommendation won’t take up much time and will prove useful for you. When asking a connection to recommend you, give them a hint to why you’re asking and what you would like them to say. It will make things easier for the recommendation writer because they will have a better idea of what to focus on, especially if they only plan to write a couple of sentences.
Twitter has quickly become my favorite social media tool because of its amazing capacity for communication, sharing, learning, and discovery of new information. Make use of the various twitter functions: hashtags #, tweetchats, and the list function that allows you to keep track of specific groups of people. It’s become my preferred method of keeping up with trends, getting news, and what’s happening in the lives of others.
Facebook is probably the social media site that you haven’t considered when it comes to finding a job. On Facebook, you already have a network that could be useful, even if you don’t recognize it at first. The network of family and friends you have on Facebook is just another group of people that can help you get a job. Reach out to your Facebook friends; make them aware that you are job searching, and what kind of job you are specifically looking for. You never know where a lead on an open position may come from.
There have been several concerns associated with social media, which has made many hesitate to use these tools as part of the job search. These concerns include it being a time waster, as well as privacy issues. For example, Facebook is notorious for changing its privacy settings, even openly acknowledging it. Social media can be a big time waster if you don’t use it effectively. The trick is to have a strategy and a plan – then stick with it. Make yourself stand out to others by making connections through social media and cultivating a professional online presence. Approach it one step at a time so it doesn’t get overwhelming. Utilizing applications such as HootSuite for all your social media accounts is a good way to keep organized and remain focused.