Finding a job these days isn’t an easy task. You’ve got lots of cover letters to write, you have to tailor your resume for each position, you have lots of interviews to prepare for, and that’s only the ‘mandatory’ steps. With lots of students graduating every semester, it’s important to realize that in addition to the job market becoming more and more competitive, it is becoming increasingly important to stand out from other candidates. For example, your resume is often the first thing an employer sees (possibly even before looking at a cover letter), so it’s important to have something that stands out, and also invites the employer to read more.
But in our world, where technology is abundant, your online presence is just as important as the documents you submit when you apply. If your resume states all your qualifications but an employer can’t find you on LinkedIn (which they often try to do), that may not be in your best interest. That’s not to say employers will turn you away for that reason, but it’s better to have a presence than none at all. Your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles are almost always looked at when you’re being considered for a job, so it’s important to maintain an active and engaging profile. However, you’re not necessarily being screened with the intention of ‘finding dirt.’ In her article, Forbes’ Jacquelyn Smith mentions, “the good news is that hiring managers aren’t just screening your social media profiles to dig up dirt; they’re also looking for information that could possibly give you an advantage. The CareerBuilder survey revealed that 29% of surveyed hiring managers found something positive on a profile that drove them to offer the candidate a job.” Thus, having a LinkedIn profile in addition to your resume could land you that opportunity you never saw coming.
If you’re still looking for a job though, there’s a lot more you can do online than you might otherwise think. In addition to the usual Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter strategies, there are also some more creative ways to apply for a job or manage your online professional presence. For example, if you’re into Pinterest, your board could have pins related to your career aspirations, and it could also have your resume posted so that employers can contact you. You can even create a Pinterest portfolio if you’re so inclined, which can open doors to opportunities that might even be outside the Lower Mainland! This article provides some further insight into using Pinterest for a dream job if it’s something you’d like to pursue.
On Twitter, the pivotal rule to abide by – even if you’re desperately looking for a job – is to always look friendly instead of needy. Keep your profile inviting and not confrontational, and follow companies that you’re interested in as well as hobbies that interest you. If your profile is sparsely updated but you’d like to post more frequently, Inc.’s Hollis Thomases can give you some useful advice on what to tweet about when you have nothing to say. Finally, when you want to connect with someone on LinkedIn – especially if it might be someone you’ve only collaborated with online – ensure you tailor your invitation to connect instead of using the standard invitation. In addition to giving off a more professional image, you’re also opening up the potential to more conversation – which could result in a recommendation, or even a connection to a job. If you want more information on connecting online, check out this article.
If you’ve got a lot of work to show off online, you can always create a personal portfolio website or even set up a blog, depending on your field of work. If you’d rather use your time developing an online presence for employers but don’t have the time or technical knowledge to build a website, you can always use sites such as about.me, which allows you to create an online portfolio and profile fairly simply. Cargo Collective is also an option if you want to network more with other designers.
Depending on your field, you could even make a YouTube/Vimeo resume, or a Flickr photo resume. This, of course, would be supplementary material to your formal resume, but it could be an interesting and entertaining way to show off your personality and could end up being a difference-maker in getting your dream job. SlideShare can also be used for a job application, and they’ve got some interesting examples here about creative ways to use it in a professional setting (examples at bottom of page).
Granted, there are many more online platforms for finding and getting a job, but these seem to be the more effective options. There’s a lot to explore, so don’t delay, and make sure you get started on developing something that allows you to stand out, even if it’s something as simple as posting your Pinterest URL with your cover letter (assuming that it’s for professional purposes of course). Employers are always looking for someone creative, and with all these platforms at your disposal, there’s no better time to start differentiating yourself from other candidates than now.