Recent Grads: 17 Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search

By Lea McLeod

     Your job search is about developing clear marketing messages and getting them in front of the right people. Social media can help you do that.
     You may view social media as a purely social endeavor. In reality, it can really be an asset in your job search. Use social media to expand your network and share your voice as you pursue that job after graduation.
     The value of social media as you start your career search is two-fold:

1. It allows you to define the information that is out there about you. Control your content. When you have these profiles employers will be able to easily find and identify you.
2. Social media tools connect you with other professionals, organizations, and career experts.
The caveat about social media is that you need to have a clear strategy and manage the time you spend on it. Otherwise it can become a time sink and you won't have much to show for your investment.

     This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of everything you can do in social media, but here are 17 good ideas for beginners.
     You thought I was going to start with LinkedIn, didn't you? We'll get to that. Start with what you probably know best. It's likely that you have a presence and a large network on Facebook. Why not leverage the network you already have first?

1. Shout out to your friends and family.
Let your existing network know exactly what kind of work you hope to do and target organizations you aspire to work for. Let them help you. Ask who they know that they could introduce you to. These are folks who already know you, and could easily refer you.

2. Build your BranchOut profile.
Download this Facebook app that allows you to build a "professional" presence and leverage your existing friends network. Upload a work-appropriate head shot and build your profile. Because it's walled off from your personal profile, you can connect to others and network professionally. You can also browse job postings, apply for jobs, and see how you're connected to jobs that are posted.

3. Follow companies, industry and career experts.
"Follow" companies on fan pages, or subscribe to feeds from career search or industry experts. See our page and join us there!

4. Manage your privacy settings.
Research shows employers are checking you out on-line, before they even contact you. Be smart about what's available to the public, and what only your friends can see. Make this a priority.
LinkedIn might be a bit intimidating for you since you are used to social media being a casual adventure. But start with the basics of LinkedIn and keep building on what you are doing. Having a LinkedIn profile ensures you'll also be found in Google searches using your name. It's a good way to control the online content about you.

5. Build your profile.
Include a good headline and summary statement. Use keywords that will attract the kind of employer, and job, you are looking for.

6. Create your vanity URL.
LinkedIn will allow you to define a URL that is unique to you. Include it on your resume, other networking materials. That way, when people look you up on LinkedIn, they'll be sure to get your profile, and not someone else with your same name.

7. Connect to everyone you know.
Include your parents, parents of your friends, your friends, professors and basically anyone in your life who has a profile. I would be surprised if you didn't easily have 75 to 100 connections before you start working hard at it. Then build from there. You're invited to connect with me as well! Include a quick note introducing yourself.

8. Follow your target companies.
Use the companies feature in the search tab. Follow organizations that you believe are a good match for you. See what jobs are posted and who you're connected to in those organization to pursue introductions.

9. Investigate job postings and apply for jobs.
I love this feature for recent grads because you can see the skills and competencies employers are looking for in their job postings. It gets you familiar with the language they use (including keywords). You can then use this language as you prepare your marketing materials. And you can apply for jobs right from the site.

10. Identify new potential connections.
Your connections can introduce you to their connections. Be sure you have a good introduction message and professional statement about why you would like to connect.

11. Join groups, and participate in the conversations.
Join groups where you have interests or connections. Include alumni, career interests, GenY or millennial groups, job search, associations or industry specific groups. Groups are an opportunity for you to make intelligent comments and observations, answer questions and make connections.
Twitter is about more than keeping up with the Kardashians, or Lady Gaga. Twitter is a way to have conversations with virtually anyone in the Twitterverse. And there's no gatekeeper in sight. If you find someone that's interesting or has a shared interest, you can speak directly to them, one on one, and they will most likely respond to you.

12. Build your profile.
Easier than LinkedIn because you only have 160 characters to do so. Include your interests, your goals, and your LinkedIn URL. Look at other recent grad profiles to get some ideas.

13. Develop a strategy.
Plan to connect and converse with people who are in your field or organizations of interest to you. What are the 10 target organizations you have or the top three industries you want to explore?

14. Identify target companies.
Follow the folks who represent them. Re-tweet pertinent posts. Engage in conversation, make comments, ask questions.

15. Build lists.
You can easily organize and follow key people. This is good if you have multiple areas of interests. Perhaps in one list you have career search, in another your top 10 target companies, and in another tweets from notables in your desired industry. This makes it easy to scan recent posts from your community, re-tweet them, and add your own perspective.
Using lists will save you time and keep you focused. If you follow a lot of people, going through your main feed can be overwhelming. You risk missing key posts. A third-party tool might come in handy. I like Hootsuite, but there are others as well. Find one that works for you.

16. Join Tweetchats.
These are online chats moderated by hosts to ask questions and facilitate the conversation. It's a fun and fast paced way to participate in a virtual conversation. You'll meet new people and make more connections.

17. Claim your name.
At the very least, build a Google+ profile with the basic information. When you have a G+ profile you will show up prominently in Google searches. [Search my name, Lea McLeod, to see an example. See how, without my profile, I could easily be mistaken for a guy with a mug shot from Oklahoma.] This is another way to control your online presence and message.
Don't let social media overwhelm you. Just find the best tools that work for you and put it to work in your job search!

     What are you doing to put social media to work in your job search? Leave a comment below!
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