Column: Can social media help me find a Job?

By Melanie Orban, Employment Advisor –
Career Employment and Counselling Services

According to Wikipedia, social media “refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.” Social Media, including networking websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, are tools that can be helpful during your work search. Social media can help you to find job opportunities, network with other professionals, and be noticed by employers and recruiters.

While looking for work, it’s been said that it’s not who you know, but who knows you! Having accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn allows you to be more visible with a profile that you establish and manage. Remember though, that social media’s purpose is to enhance, rather than undermine, your work search.

Many employers use search engines to check out potential job candidates. These searches are leading employers to use social media to post job opportunities, find candidates and follow up on employee referrals. Not only will potential employers check out your references, but they may also Google your name, or try to find your profile on Facebook or other networking sites to gather more information about you.

Social media is becoming a highly effective tool that gives access to people with diverse skills, backgrounds and locations. It allows job seekers to find out more information about job opportunities, the types of companies who are hiring and companies that people want to work for. It allows users to dialogue with other professionals, highlight their qualifications, and to develop their networks further in a short amount of time.

According to ALIS (Alberta Learning Information Service – Government of Alberta), no social medial tool is more effective than any others. Their effectiveness depends on what you want to accomplish and your comfort and skill in using them.

Tips for using social media as a work search tool:

1/ Think about using networking websites such as Facebook and My Space. Many companies and organizations have joined these sites as an advertising tool, to post updates and to let others know they are hiring. To enhance the effectiveness of these sites for work search purposes, change your profile to a more professional one. Include your education, volunteer pursuits and other relevant skills over personal ones.

2/ LinkedIn and other professional networking sites have become very popular with recruiters, employers and professionals who are currently working, who are seeking employment or who are looking for top talent. LinkedIn allows you to set up a profile, access other users and enables job seekers to make direct contact with employers. It also allows job seekers to join different groups, where it’s possible to network with other professionals, or join discussions with others in your field.

3/ Twitter has become popular with companies and many use it to post openings. Blogging and commenting on blogs and tweets related to your field or your work search can showcase writing and thinking skills.

4/ Utilize discussion groups found on professional associations, industry or union websites. Taking part in discussion groups enables you to stay current, showcase your knowledge, and allows employers to find you more easily online.

Using social media to increase your visibility can work for you in a number of ways. If used appropriately and professionally, social media can assist in your job search efforts by increasing your exposure, expanding your network, showcasing your skills and highlighting your ability to use technology.

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