By Richard Grant, SNHU Career Advisor
In the realm of job seeking, some aspects of a successful search have remained the same over time, and others have changed significantly. Networking is considered the No. 1 priority in an effective job search, and that will probably never change. Some career experts contend that 80 percent of jobs are filled as a result of networking activity.
While the importance of networking has not changed, the venues for professional networking have expanded with the advent of social media. Because social media facilitates two-way communication, enables user-generated content and connects people around the world, it is ideal for job seekers who want to expand their networks. Individuals looking for employment can find job postings on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other sites; however, the real value of social media in a job search is the ability to interact with other people and build professional relationships.
To realize the full benefits of using social media in a job search, job seekers need to be engaged and participate in online discussions. It’s also important to follow some commonly accepted “best practices.” The following are some tips for effectively using LinkedIn and Twitter for professional networking during a job search.
Create an attractive profile. Provide detailed information; create a headline and summary statement. Describe each job with appropriate keywords. Add skills and highlight projects. Post a professional profile photo and customize your LinkedIn URL.
Add connections. Initially, connect with people you know and who also know you reasonably well. If you network on LinkedIn with people who know you well, you will have better success in getting referred to their connections.
Participate in groups. Join the “SNHU Community” group; seek groups within your professional interests and actively participate in discussion topics. It is important to be “social” on “social media”!
Find SNHU alumni. Under the “Connections” menu, click on “Find Alumni.” Here you will be able to see the nearly 40,000 SNHU alumni on LinkedIn. It is very easy to filter the search results simply by clicking into each of the six columns.
Use “advanced” search. Clicking “advanced” to the right of the search bar brings up a screen on which you can input information into searchable fields, such as keywords, company, college, job title and zip code. Your search results will be your connections, plus those in their network, referred to as your “2nd degree” and “3rd degree” connections. With 2nd degree connections, you can see who your common connections are, which will help you get introduced to the people you’d like to meet.
Expand your network. As you start reaching out to your 2nd degree connections, you need to follow the same guidelines and protocols as you would if you were meeting someone new in person. Get to know people first, and don’t come on too strong. Build a rapport before you ask for anything. As you connect with new people on LinkedIn, it’s important to build your relationship with an information-seeking perspective rather than immediately asking about job openings.
Companies post jobs and internships on Twitter but, like with LinkedIn, the most significant benefit of using Twitter is for professional networking.
Find relevant professional content. Search for a variety of industry keywords to identify people in your career field who post professional information. As you find industry experts, look to see who those experts follow.
Follow companies and the individuals who represent them. Interact with recruiters. Follow people you admire and companies you’d like to work for.
Engage with people. When you read something interesting, reply and write something complimentary to the person who tweeted it. You can also share content by re-tweeting.
Take time to chat. Every day, dozens of chats about a variety of professional topics take place on Twitter. Chats are an essential component to building a network on Twitter. Every month, SNHU Career hosts a chat called #SNHUCareerChat. Check the SNHU Career calendar of events on mySNHU for more information. Every Monday at 10 p.m. EST, search for #JobHuntChat, which provides information and support for job seekers.
Search for professional associations and industry groups. Some professional groups host Twitter chats, such as #PRSSA, for students interested in the public relations field, and #SMSportsChat, for people interested in working in the sports industry.
Share your expertise. Express your opinions so people get to know you. Having conversations, joining chats, and sharing your ideas is how you create deeper online relationships that someday will translate into offline ones.
Promote your brand. Use Twitter as a platform to present yourself as a professional. Provide a link to your digital portfolio, blog or LinkedIn. This is a great way to enable people in your network to learn more about you.
With any networking activity, it’s important to be realistic in your expectations and not hope for immediate results. Only in very rare circumstances would you network one day and land a job the next day. Networking is about planting seeds that will ultimately grow, evolving into new career opportunities over time as you nurture and cultivate your network.