Despite any horror stories you may have heard—people being fired for something they posted or not getting a job because of something on Facebook or Twitter—social media can be quite useful to a job search. You can research employers, develop your personal brand (check out our post on personal branding), and/or interact directly with employers of interest.
Review Your Social Media Accounts
First things first. Before you start your job search, review each of your social media accounts for anything unflattering and delete it immediately, even if you have super secure privacy settings. Beyond that, any additional steps are up to you and your comfort level.
Research, Research, Research
See what the organizations that interest you are doing with social media. Look for links on their website to their social media accounts or search on a specific platform. Are they using the platform(s) to engage with customers or with prospective employees? What messages are they sending out and how often?
By checking out what they are doing you may learn about their culture, value proposition or mission, products, and even what sets them apart from competitors. This is all useful information as you apply for jobs (with tailored resumes and cover letters) and prepare for interviews.
Establish & Develop Your Presence
To go beyond research and interact with employers, develop your own presence. Some social media platforms, like LinkedIn, are meant for career-related activities. Others, like Twitter and Facebook, can be used for personal or professional purposes.
During your job search, it is best to make a firm decision on how you want to use a particular platform. If you plan to interact with employers, you may want to focus your posts for that platform on developing your career brand and limit those about your personal life.
Interact with Employers
Some employers will encourage interaction by asking you to like/follow them, fill out surveys, answer polls, or comment on posts. But you don’t have to wait for them to prompt you.
If they are posting articles that you find interesting, go ahead and comment. Also, feel free to share articles that they may find thought-provoking or message them with questions. Often, this can spark a longer conversation offline.