The Long Tail of Finding a Job Through Social Media

chapter 8 - community building through social networking
Social media sites can be very useful if you’re looking for a job, but it isn’t a magic lamp that you can just pick up and rub and expect a job to appear. It takes some effort and planning to ensure that your efforts return rewards.

What Not to Do

Networking on social media needs to start long before you actually need work. Just suddenly appearing and asking for a job is a sure way to turn hiring managers and recruiters off, even if you’ve done your research and know who’s hiring. You should have an established profile and some relationships built before you begin to job hunt. I like it when people approach me on Twitter, Facebook and my blog to ask about positions, the difference lies in how the person approaches me.

Jumping into social media for the express purpose of contacting hiring managers will make you look desperate and is more likely to lose you potential jobs than give you a chance. Instead of starting when you’re desperate, get a head start on making use of social media by establishing visibility and relationships earlier. People are more willing to help and listen when they already know you.

Get Into Social Networking Early

Even if you don’t currently need work, make a point of being active on social networks anyway. This is the perfect time to build relationships and get to know people without needing something from them. Interaction is key when it comes to establishing a solid relationship, so make a point of talking with others instead of just at them. There are a few ways to create successful connections with other social media users, whether they are hiring managers or not.

Follow people who work for the company you are interested in working with. Don’t just watch them, however, take the time to actually talk to them. On Twitter, you can retweet their more interesting or useful posts, answer their questions or even ask them questions and discuss your mutual interests.

Other ways to start interacting with companies and their employees is to comment on the company blog and tweet or share the link on your favorite social media networks, or contact them via email. Once you get to know someone well enough on social media, moving to email or meeting up in-person if local is an easy step and could give you a leg up on the competition later when you need a job.

When You Need a Job

Ideally, you will have a well established social network by the time you are ready to start job hunting. If you are able, it may even be worth it to hold off on looking for a job for a little while in order to build up your network.

Once you’re ready, you can let your network know that you are in the market for a position. When reaching out, be specific and make it easy for people to help you. Let your network know about what kind of opportunity interests you, or even the specific companies. If you know that a particular hiring manager has an opening or if you are particularly interested in working for them, reach out directly to that person.

Some companies have very strong referral programs where existing employees can recommend you for an open position. If you know someone within the company, ask them about the opening. Asking for the recommendation is a big favor, though, so make sure you ask someone who has really connected with you and has some experience with your work.

Keep in mind that anyone you ask about work should already have a relationship with you. Unless you are reaching out to an industry recruiter or the HR department, people generally don’t respond positively being asked for favors by strangers, so make sure you know the person you are asking and that they know who you are.

It takes time to build relationships and these should ideally be relationships that will last even if they can’t help you find work. People tend to know when they’re being used, so keep it real and be genuine in your friendship. Even online, this matters and sincerity could make all the difference in whether you get a job or not.

Photo credit: David King

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