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Social media can be the key to landing a job. Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.
Yes, a lack of social media presence is hurting your job search, and it is also hurting your professional stability. Like it or not, social media platforms are a fact of life, and they can have a significant impact on your career.
LinkedIn had 467 million members around the globe at the end of last year, with about 128 million U.S. users. Not having a presence on such a platform makes you invisible to recruiters. LinkedIn is the honeypot for headhunters; as one described it to me recently, "Love it; like catching fish in a barrel."
You need a LinkedIn profile that tells the same story of your career as your resume (especially dates, education and certifications). Your page headline should be the job title you want recruiters to associate with you. Recruiters conduct searches for "HR Manager"; they do not conduct searches for "Seeking Opportunity."
If you are wondering if your network is as strong as it needs to be, LinkedIn can help you strengthen it. The platform has thousands of groups, and you can belong to up to 50 at a time. Forget the job search groups; they are mostly filled with uncredentialed people trying to sell you services using feel-good soundbites, largely based on wobbly thinking. You need to belong to groups that are specific to your profession and whose members hold your current job title and titles one to three levels above yours. These are the people who will know of jobs or are able to offer you one. Membership in a group allows you to reach out and establish a connection with anyone else who is also member, meaning that you can quickly build a network.
LinkedIn also has tools to help you search for posted jobs. The customer service is sometimes lacking, but setting up and executing basic search functions is intuitive.
Twitter is a great platform for broadcasting information. You should have an account, but you don't need to tweet all the time or even at all. Twitter has several apps that help you search for jobs efficiently, and being able to use these apps is reason enough to have an account on this platform.
Facebook is so big and changing so constantly that you cannot afford to ignore it. That said, many recruiters still see it as more for socializing than creating a professional presence. However, because there are so many people on Facebook, companies use it to promote job openings. Like the other two big social media platforms, there are plenty of apps to help you find those jobs. All you need to take advantage of them is a profile.
Some advice: Keep your profile entirely professional, pretty much mimicking your LinkedIn profile.
Most of us don't realize how limited our professional networks are until we engage in a job search. With social media, you can build professionally relevant networks that can help you with this job search immediately. And if you keep your profile updated and continue to add relevant connections from your group memberships, future job searches will be easier.
Job security is not something anyone can rely on, so establishing and increasing connectivity with your professional community is one of the best ways to increase your professional stability, whether you decide to make a move on your own timetable or when a job search is thrust upon you unexpectedly.
Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.
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