As a modern day career counselor, nothing is more fascinating to me than the opportunities that social media can give job seekers. Any of these online networking sites can lead to internship and job opportunities if you do it right. And when you’re doing it really right, the internship and job opportunities could actually come to you.
I’ve watched this happen to many students and heard countless stories of social media success in the job search. Every time, it’s just as amazing a story as the last. But, I’m not here to tell you about someone else’s success. What I am here to do is break down how it works so that you will be one of those success stories.
To help make sense of it, I’ve done my best to boil this all down to three tips.
1.) Get social media strategic.
Before you tweet or post a thing, make strategic decisions about your social media presence. What networks are most intuitive to you? Which networks can you manage best? You don’t have to be on every network to succeed in social media. Also, consider: where is my target audience – the organizations where I want to work? Or the people with whom I want to work? Make sure you find them on your networks, too.
Think of social media like you think of real life events. If you are interested in digital marketing, wouldn’t you want to go the digital marketing conference? Of course. So, find out where those digital marketers are on social media. They could be in a LinkedIn Group or maybe they all participate in a scheduled tweetchat.
2.) Be an observant fly on the wall.
Most people I know are nervous about making a misstep on social media. I don’t blame them. There’s a lot of scary stuff out there regarding social media and your career. So, to those people, and even for those who feel ready to rock and roll, I say: channel your best fly on the wall at the beginning. When you have your networks and know where your people are, just be there for a while and soak in the conversations.
Two great things will come from this soaking it in:
- You will learn a lot about what is going on in your industry or at your employer of choice right this very second. Social media is great for this all-access, instant information. Knowing it will make you much more informed in a networking conversation or interview when you get there.
- You will be able to pick up the keywords which are critical for your industry. What words or topics are people talking about most? Study these. Maybe even create a list of them. Here’s why: when you’re ready to polish up your profiles and start tweeting or posting, you want to get these in there. Then, when people search for those words or topics, who could show up? You!
3.) To be seen as valuable, you must add value.
Employers hire people because they are convinced that person has value. They want that person to bring this value to their organization. This is why people will tell you to demonstrate your value on your resume and provide great examples of your value in your interview answers. The same rules apply for social media. You have to be seen as valuable, and to do so, you have to add value to the conversation.
How can this work on social media? Well, after you know your networks, have found your people, and soaked in what they discuss, it’s time to contribute. Contributing can look like:
- Simply responding positively to something someone said
- Retweeting someone who said something relevant and thought-provoking
- After a bit, adding your commentary to those retweets
- Asking a critical question to the group
- Proposing a topic you think might be worthy of discussing
- Blogging about your topic of interest
You don’t have to be an “expert” to add value or spur an interesting conversation on social media. Let yourself do this comfortably and at a pace that feels right for you, but keep contributing. You could be that next job search success story.
Kevin Grubb is a higher education professional, social media consultant, and featured speaker on the subject of social media & careers. He teaches a college course he created called Social Networking: Creating Your Professional Identity, and serves as the moderator for LinkedIn’s Career Services Professionals webinars, helping to share ideas with colleagues about best practices for using LinkedIn on college/university campuses.
Kevin is also a contributing writer of the “Tech Talk” column for the National Association of Colleges & Employers "Spotlight Online" publication, a featured speaker at conferences, colleges, and universities, and was named a top “Gen Y Careerist to Follow on Twitter” on Brazen Careerist. Click here to check out his blog.