Some weeks ago, I moderated a workshop on applications and social media for job seekers. The objective of the event was to give an overview of the common platforms and to develop strategies for a successful presentation on social networks.
I noticed that most of the candidates are acquainted with various social media platforms; many of them have a profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing or even Twitter. However, there seems to be great uncertainty about how to use this web presence to find a job or for making their next career move.
It is interesting that HR experts around the globe, well versed in social media, discuss if and when the “Social CV” (the digital footprint which we leave behind in the World Wide Web) will replace the classic CV. However, a large part of their target group is still on a very different level when dealing with social media and career planning.
With today’s blogpost, I would like to assist you in dealing with social media in connection with your own career planning.
But prior to that, I would like to explain why a social media profile can be a competitive advantage for candidates which should not be underestimated:
Active Sourcing is a clear trend in personnel recruitment which implies that companies actively approach candidates instead of explicitly recruiting staff via job adverts. Next to classic CV databases, more and more companies also use social media channels to address candidates directly. So why should you not allow an employer to find you?
1. Professional networking – LinkedIn and Xing
Business networks such as Xing and LinkedIn allow much more than a simple entry of the classic CV. It is very appealing to welcome visitors to your profile in the “About me” section and to write something about yourself. You should definitely upload your photo. Profiles with a photo generate a significantly higher traffic. You should also mention your specialist knowledge and skills. Use synonyms if certain terms are repeated in your CV. Both networks automatically suggest jobs based on the information provided. If you have any further profiles on the web, refer to them. A further tip: Look out for fellow students, former colleagues and private contacts (e.g. neighbours and/ or members of your club) and actively contact them. Join specialized groups. Introduce yourself to the other group members. This will help you to expand your network. By the way: in many groups you find published vacancies. Get actively involved in the group action and demonstrate your expertise! Also use functions such as “Visitors to my profile” as an indicator how your profile is perceived. And last but not least: In business networks, the same rules apply as in small talk: no religion, no politics – especially during the orientation phase.
2. Social Networks – Facebook, Twitter & Co
In some countries, it is common to recruit actively via Facebook. This is very different in Germany where a large group of social media users wish for a clear separation between private and professional activities. However, the social networks offer the opportunity to get information about potential employers. Career pages at Google+ and/or Facebook invite you to get an idea about the company and to get in touch with employees without any further obligations. I recommend you to adjust your Facebook privacy settings to convey a neutral image to your future employer, and not only during the active application phase.
Many companies use the micro-blogging service Twitter to publish news and job offers. Follow companies and persons you are interested in and who share your professional interests. Exchange experiences here and inform your network about news from your specialist area. The number of Retweets and the number of your followers could be a useful indicator to find out whether your activities reach your target group.
3. Demonstrating expertise – your own blog
You are completely absorbed in your work or you want to turn your hobby into your profession? Great! Allow the virtual world to share your expertise. For me, creating your own blog is the supreme discipline in the social web, as it holds the great opportunity to demonstrate specialist know-how to a large audience and to attract attention. However, you need a lot of discipline and endurance. Texts should be published at least on a weekly basis. If you can manage this workload and distribute the generated content across your various networks in an intelligent manner, the chances for your next career step are rather good.
These are my recommendations on how to use social media during the active and passive career planning phase. Surely it involves some extra work in the beginning, but I assure you that it is also a lot of fun. Which experiences have you made with social media as job applicant? I’m looking forward to hearing about your thoughts and ideas.
About the Author
Sebastian Rahm is a Senior Department Manager at Hays Germany. Responsible for Delivery Management of Corporate Accounts as well as RPO staffing and (Social) Media Recruiting. Follow Sebastian on @Sebastian_Rahm
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