Many different kinds of people are now finding ways of using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to reach their goals and objectives. From marketers to non-profits, everyone is discovering the advantages of using social media to achieve real results.
As a job seeker, you too can leverage social media to help you become successful. Social media, for one, is a great tool for your interview preparation. I know that sounds odd, but here are some ideas on how you can accomplish that.
Before Sending Out Your Resume:
1. Create a LinkedIn Account (if you don't have one yet)
LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals. It's a great tool to create an online brand, to network, and to follow companies. As a job-seeker, you need to be on LinkedIn! Once you've signed up, make sure that you take the time to create an effective profile.
2. Update Your Profiles
Put yourself in a potential manager's shoes while reviewing your LinkedIn, Face book and Twitter accounts. It's a good assumption that the company you're interested in is now checking your online presence to learn more about you.
Is there anything that might give a bad impression? Have you written a profile that's professional but also has some personality? These are just some of the questions you have to ask yourself when you look at your profile. If possible, get an objective friend to evaluate your profile. Keeping a clean reputation online can give you that extra edge to get that interview.
3. Google Your Name
See which of your social networking profiles appear in search results. Do you have any online profiles you wouldn't want a potential employer to see? If you have a LinkedIn account, it's very likely that it's the first thing that will be in the search results, so this is another good reason to open an account. Social media can help you keep in touch with friends and family, but you can also use it as a tool to build your reputation online.
4. Follow Job Search Experts
The amount of information, tips, and news available through social media is enormous. Use social media to your advantage by following experts who can provide you with great info. For example, if you're on Twitter, you can follow WIL for some awesome job tips. Twellow's directory (Employment > Career > Job Search) is a great tool to find professionals to follow. Watch out for interview tips from professionals and take the time to review these resources in addition to the resources provided here in the Online Learning Community.
Before Heading to an Interview:
1. Research the Company
By now, you probably already know that research is the key to acing interviews. The more you know about the company, the better you'll do.
Of course, there's the traditional way of researching companies online: through the official website, press releases, etc. But social media provides some new ways you can find even more information.
LinkedIn Company Provides gives a great example. It features demographic information (such as gender, geography, median age, and median tenure) about the company's employees. Click "follow" at the top of the page to get regular updates about the company on your email or through your LinkedIn account.
Another good example is corporate blogs. Usually, companies set up blogs to showcase the human side of the organization and to engage potential customers. These blogs go beyond the information that organizations usually mention in their press releases. In some instances, they may share some current and upcoming projects through blogs. By accessing this information, you're already giving yourself a huge competitive advantage.
Finally, check the Facebook page or Twitter account of the organization. This is a good way to learn about new promotions, new press coverage, and new projects that the company is embarking on.
2. Learn About the Company's Employees
The ideal interview would really be a discussion between you and the employer whether you're the best fit for the job. You are evaluating the company as much as they are evaluating you. To help with this, you can use social media to learn more about the company's corporate culture before you even step to that interview.
I've already mentioned LinkedIn company pages above - You can also use these to get insights on the company's corporate culture. The company pages also list new hires, recent promotions, and departures; click through a few profiles to get an idea of their education and experience level, the kinds of projects they've been involved with, etc.
You might even take this further and follow a few employees on Twitter or their blogs. (Links to these are usually found on their LinkedIn accounts) Doing so might give you hints about issues or opportunities that the company is currently dealing with. Is the company actively working on an intranet? Are there projects related to team-building? Is the company trying to discourage social media in the workplace? These questions aren't usually announced through press releases and other PR materials, but employees might actually talk about these issues through Twitter or through their personal blogs.
On that note, you should also see if the CEOs or other executives of a company you're interested in tweet and blog as individuals. These successful professionals drive the organization, so they have insights you may not get elsewhere.
I realize that the following employees on Twitter might seem a bit stalker-ish. But the information is available there anyway, so might as well use it. Taking the time to quickly learn about a company's current and past employees will give you a better understanding of its corporate culture. This understanding can help you better evaluate if you're the right fit for the company; it may also help you convince the interviewer that you're the best person for the job.
3. Set up Informational Interviews
The best way to use social media to set up informational interviews is to search for employees on LinkedIn. You might find that you have a connection who actually currently works for the company you're interested with. In most cases, you'll find that a 2nd or 3rd connection (those who are linked into your current first connections) might be currently employed there. In the latter case, you can ask your current connection to introduce you or you may also email the potential lead and introduce yourself.
You can also use Twitter and Facebook for this. Simply update your status and let everyone know that you're looking to meet someone from XYZ Company.
From my experience, Twitter is especially a great tool to ask for help. In some cases, the help I got didn't even come from someone who is following me. Current employees may even contact you directly and offer help if they see your status in a Twitter search.
Once you find people, make sure you're prepared when you go to meet them. The OLC has some great articles about the information interviews, and you should consider reviewing them as part of your preparation.
Social media may have changed the game a bit when it comes to interviews, but the basics remain the same: To become successful, you need to create a good impression and you need to do research before heading to the interview. You will use social media anyway - you might as well as use it to advance your career!
Beyond the Blog
- Check out Kevin's other blog posts from their Social Media Series.