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Boost Your Job Search With Social Media

Social media is playing a critical role in the job-search process—for both the employee and employer. That’s why your presence on these platforms needs to be part of your personal branding strategy.

By Samantha Whitehorne

A great cover letter and compelling resume will always be two critical pieces of any job seeker’s search. However, there’s something else that’s continuing to grow in importance: your presence on social media.

In a 2015 survey from CareerBuilder of more than 2,000 employers, 43 percent said they use social media to recruit candidates, and 35 percent said they are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online.

In other words, whether you like it or not, a social media presence is a must. “In fact, how you present yourself on these different social networks can make or break your job hunt,” says Cheryl Palmer, a career coach and founder of the coaching firm Call to Career.  “Think of your social media presence as part of your personal branding strategy.”

Palmer says job seekers should “make all their social media profiles sparkle and be sure that they represent them well.” But pay special attention to LinkedIn, “since it is the site where most employers source executive and professional candidates.” Here are three tips from Palmer for cleaning up your LinkedIn page:

Complete your profile. Add work experience, a photo, and recommendations. “According to a LinkedIn representative quoted in The Wall Street Journal, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through the site than those with incomplete profiles,” she says.

Think of your social media presence as part of your personal branding strategy.

—Cheryl Palmer 

Use keywords. Recruiters use keywords to search for their ideal candidates, so if your profile is not peppered with the right ones, it will never see the light of day. Think about the skill sets employers are looking for, and include those keywords in your profile.

Highlight your accomplishments. Don’t just list your duties. “While your duties may overlap with someone who has a similar job title, your accomplishments can’t be duplicated,” Palmer says.

Beyond LinkedIn, Palmer recommends that you double-check privacy settings on Facebook and Instagram. “A good rule of thumb: If there’s something on there you wouldn’t want your mom to see, it’s probably something you also wouldn’t want a potential employer or recruiter to get their eyes on,” she says.

As for Twitter, Palmer suggests having two accounts: one personal and one professional, adding that the former should probably be kept private.

If all this talk of social media has you feeling anxious, Palmer has two pieces of advice for newbies. The first is to observe before participating. “Every site has its own etiquette,” she says. “To ensure that you don't come across as lacking social media savvy, watch how others are interacting on the site and then act accordingly.”

The second is not to appear desperate. “Don’t spam fellow members you don’t know and ask them for a job,” she says.

Instead, Palmer suggests building relationships first by participating in groups. “You participate, you get more comfortable, you build your presence. Employers will recognize that and see you as a savvy, recruitable candidate.” 

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. Email: [email protected]

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