Monday, July 19, 2010

Five Ways You Can Use Social Media to Get Hired

As one of my loyal readers (all fourteen of you, and that’s being optimistic), you probably know that I like Twitter. Quite a bit. I’ve written about it before. Twitter is a portal to the collective thoughts of the world. I recently commented about it on a post about why I love Twitter:

I think Twitter can fundamentally change the way those with little industry experience look for work. Connecting with the right people, posting high-quality information, and making insightful observations on Twitter could potentially catch the eye of employers. It’s an interesting new way to think about job hunting for my generation.

Twitter can change how you find a job. See, I spent a good chunk of my senior year in college sending in resumes, writing cover letter after cover letter, attending job fairs, and occasionally landing an interview because of it. This method I’m going to call the “push” method of job hunting. This is how those with little-to-no experience have been doing it for quite some time. In my case, this was (and continues to be) like shoving a boulder up a hill or getting Zooey Deschanel to marry me. 
Already Married? Rats.

But here we are in the digital age, where mere mortals like me can have real conversations with C-Level employees and thought leaders in the industry using Twitter. This is enough to make me think that perhaps there is a better way to find a job. I’m going to call it the “pull” method.

The pull method is simple in theory and difficult in execution. Basically, you get other people to want you. It’s easy if you’re LeBron James, not so easy if you’re Applicant #4000. This is where our pal social media comes in to save the day. Social media won’t get you “pulled” through to a new career on its own, but it will definitely make pushing that boulder a little easier. Using social media isn’t a direct means to employment, but it can definitely help. Here are five ways you can use social media to (help) get hired:
  1. Talk About Your Industry: If you don’t have Twitter, get an account. You know why (don’t make me link to my own work again). If you do have an account, learn to use it to your advantage. Start talking about interesting things in your industry. Show your followers that you’re knowledgeable about things that are relevant. I want to be somewhere in Marketing, PR, Advertising, or Media. This is why a lot of the content on my Twitter page is about those industries. I certainly didn’t stop tweeting about random things, though (as you can probably see from my love of Psychic Octopi). I’m not saying you have to be a robot, but make sure you’re spending time talking about things of interest to your industry. Share cool articles, talk about relevant people/news in the industry, and get your opinion out there.
  2. Start a Blog: Get a blog going. All you have to do is sign up. Center your blog around anything you’re passionate about that is tangentially related to your industry. My friend Chris just started a blog about new music because he’s very knowledgeable and passionate about music and has aspirations of being involved in entertainment marketing. Again, it’s all about showing that you know what you’re talking about, even if you have little formal experience.
  3. Connect With the Right People: Like I said, part of the power of Twitter is that you’re able to connect with the important movers and shakers of your industry without having to go through the formal chain of command. Find important people within your prospective industry and follow them on Twitter. You’ll learn a lot of great things from them and you might even be able to talk with them. You can also try to look them up on LinkedIn (which you should probably have, too). If you’re looking for a job with a certain company, it’s smart to follow them on the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). You can learn a lot about the company and show interest at the same time.  
  4. Never Stop Learning: I’ve learned a LOT in the months since graduation just by using the internet and social media. You can never stop learning about your industry; things change too fast and if you ever think you know enough, you’re wrong. Read books about your industry. Learn its history. Find websites and blogs to visit daily. Open the articles you find on Twitter. There’s simply too much useful information out there to ever stop learning. Your education gives you a lot of important concepts and buzzwords, but getting your feet wet in the “real world” requires much more learning. (Rant: that is one of the most condescending phrases I’ve ever had to deal with. It's all the "Real World," except of course the TV show “The Real World.” That’s not real)  
  5. Comment on Other Blogs: I think this idea is underused and underestimated. If you really want to get yourself noticed, go to the source. Find the relevant blogs in the industry and start commenting. Find stories you have an actual opinion (and some knowledge about), and get your ideas heard. Writers love to hear feedback and engage with people who read their work (HINT), so start commenting and making your opinion known. You have just as much of a right to comment on a blog as the top expert in your industry. That’s the power of the democratized internet. Don’t forget it.
Bonus Tip: Keep your online presence as clean as you think is necessary. I’m not your mother, so that’s all I’m going to say. 

With the post-grad job market looking like a post-apocalyptic nightmare and some of us walking around like zombies looking for jobs, we might as well use all the tools we have at our disposal to get noticed. Using social media to help you get hired isn’t guaranteed to work, but I think the benefits go beyond that. Think about how much you’re learning about your industry in the process. That knowledge is important, whether or not recruiters think your online presence is. It will also make you much more passionate about the industry once you become a part of the community. Get on board and join the social media circus. Besides, the cool trend these days is being environmentally-friendly, right? Save a tree, let social media be your resume.

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