“I will hire a six-figure salaried employee this month, and I strictly recruited via Twitter – no resumes. #WSJchat”
That tweet was sent by Vala Afshar, CMO and the Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys Networks, earlier this month to the Wall Street Journal. Afshar was just one of many respondents answering a series of questions posed by WSJ, asking about their preferences when it comes to using social media to find talent.
It turns out social media is slowly working its way on to the radar of hiring managers. Numbers from the recruitment firm Robert Half reveal that 32% of recruiters use social media to communicate with candidates, and 22% check profiles of potential candidates online.
Margaret Buj is an interview coach with over 9 years of experience, and has seen first-hand the change in direction employers have taken when it comes to social media. “Pretty much every recruiter I know uses LinkedIn as primary tool for finding candidates,” says Buj. “I have been on LinkedIn for the past 6 years. Twitter is more recent, I’ve seen employees start to use it over the past year or two.”
Candidates wanting to stand out from the crowd in an uber-competitive job market can start by making sure their online profiles are top notch.
Creating a winning profile
According to Buj, candidates can improve their chances of finding a job using social media by creating a profile that stands out from the crowd. “Candidates should have a keyword-rich profile. It has to be done in a natural way – you don’t want to put 20 keywords in a LinkedIn profile, but it should include words that would appear in a job description.” She also advises to steer clear of generic statements that don’t truly convey your level of knowledge of expertise. Using tangible examples of work you’ve done or results you’ve achieved will help stand out to recruiters, most of which are looking at hundreds of CVs in a day.
“‘I’m an experienced project manager.”
“I’ve been managing projects for over ten years, working with budgets between $50,000-$1 million dollars.”
In terms of where recruiters are looking, experts seem to agree that it depends on the sector. Companies in IT for example may be more inclined to look on LinkedIn, while PR and Communications firms may well look to Twitter or Facebook to find talent.
Buj notes that keeping a blog is another great way to showcase both your interests and your writing talent. “LinkedIn gives you the ability to link your blog to your profile. Employers definitely look at that, especially if it’s in industries like PR or technology, where the subject matter and the skill set are really relevant,” she explains.
Stand out from the crowd
To stand apart from the countless other applicants searching for work online, Buj recommends taking a proactive approach. Instead of relying on job boards, directly reach out to hiring managers and people within the organization you’re in applying to. By using tools like LinkedIn, you can see how you may know people through your connections. Take the initiative and ask to be connected!
Following companies you have an interest in working for on Twitter or Facebook is another great way to stay abreast of company changes, job opportunities and news. Engage with tweets to potential employers – here’s a great example:
Make sure you research the company you’re interested in working for before sending out applications, Buj advises. “I once had a candidate apply to about 27 jobs within the same company, none of which he was qualified for.” Instead of wasting time with applications that certainly won’t result in an interview, focus your efforts by doing some due diligence and creating a standout presence for when your LinkedIn profile is viewed. “The headline is very important. Make it exciting – I wouldn’t do something generic,” says Buj. “Get recommendations from past employers detailing your strengths, skills and leadership qualities.”
When it comes to using social media to find a job, there are some definite no-no’s to avoid. It should go without saying, but if you’re using your social media accounts for work and not play, your profile picture should be professional. “I once had someone apply to a job, and he was a great candidate – the background was all there – but he was half naked in his picture!” says Buj. Shots taken at the beach need not apply, so make sure your headshot is representative of the way you would appear at an interview.
In addition to monitoring the layout and look of your profile, also pay close attention to the content. “A lot of hiring managers will check your LinkedIn profile against your CV – make sure things add up,” says Buj, who adds that not having enough information is also a big mistake. “Some people have just the company they worked for and the dates, nothing about their responsibilities or role.”
Creating a standout profile and taking initiative will help you succeed at finding a job utilising social media. As more and more recruiters turn to it to hire candidates, you don’t want to be overlooked. If Vala Afshar’s words are anything to go by, if you’re not already on social media, you probably should be.
Twitter job sources: