Admit it: You’re frustrated. After submitting application after application and never hearing back, you start to wonder if there’s something wrong with you.
You’ve spent hours filling out the same information, creating accounts, and tweaking your resume. You decide that maybe you just need to be more patient and submit even more applications. You start to do that mindlessly–even to jobs you aren’t excited about, or jobs you’re overqualified for. Do you need some other skill set? Should you go back to school?
Probably not. The truth is, your approach to finding a new job matters just as much, if not more so, than your resume and all the qualifications it enumerates. It all starts with how you look for a new position.
Most of us are social media veterans. Our Facebook and Twitter and Instagram feeds punctuate our daily lives–maybe even more than we’d like them to. But using social media to help our job search strategies is a vague concept at best and an alien one at worst. And yet doing just that can help set you apart from the competition.
Job boards and applicant tracking systems have transformed the job search into a highly transactional experience. The truth is, referrals are still the best way to get a job. And if you deploy social media in the right way, you stand a higher change of attracting more referrals and landing more interviews.
Here are a few simple techniques to get started with using social media for your job search.
Social recruiting is on the rise. Recruiters have long posted job listings on LinkedIn, and those at the most forward-thinking companies are now doing the same on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.
One big difference between applying on a website verses responding to a job posted on social media is that you usually get to see who posted the job. That means you have an opportunity to interact directly with the recruiter, HR representative, or even the hiring manager–which makes your chances of getting a call considerably higher.
Many companies have social accounts that include “Careers” in their handle, like @YahooCareers or @GMCareers on Twitter. Follow a few of these accounts to stay on top of potential opportunities you might not find on a job board.
Hiring managers and recruiters are busy and don’t always have time to look at every application. That’s why being referred for a position by someone you know is so important. It gives recruiters a higher level of trust in a candidate than if the applicant had come in off the street, so to speak. In other words, referrals make recruiters’ jobs easier by decreasing their reliance on a pile of resumes (which some view with skepticism in the first place).
Social media tools make it easy for you to find a potential referral through your network, or get introduced to someone through a mutual contact. So reach out to your immediate social network–even those in fields you aren’t interested in–and let your friends and acquaintances know you’re looking for a new job. Those conversations can snowball and lead to referrals you wouldn’t otherwise have had access to.
Tackle it from the reverse end at the same time: Comb through the social accounts of companies that interest you and see if you can track down the name of a recruiter or hiring manager, even if you can’t spot the specific job listing that’s right for you. It never hurts to introduce yourself to a recruiter and strike up an informal conversation on social media. Then when something comes along, you’ll stand a better shot of being considered.
Another way to connect with professionals in a certain field, company, or type of business is to join social media groups. LinkedIn and Facebook both have robust group features where you can take part in conversations with those who have similar professional interests.
This may be a little less threatening for anyone who might feel uncomfortable or solicitous approaching a stranger online. Groups are a way to start contributing to a discussion without asking for anything. Over time, you build relationships and are able to organically create opportunities. Keep an eye on the news and blog posts those in your LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ networks share. Jump in and comment. Share an idea or two of your own. Getting in on these conversations helps you establish relationships that can result in great job leads and referrals.
If you land an interview with a hiring manager, that’s a big deal! The more you can learn about them, the better. If you take the time to research the hiring manager you’ll be speaking with–their professional background, role, and tenure at the company, etc.–the better you will be able to position yourself for the job during the interview.
Remember, the hiring manager is the customer and you are the product. The more you know about them beforehand, the easier it will be to really connect. They’ll also appreciate that you were proactive enough to take the time to learn.
Ultimately, social media can help you make the job search human again by connecting you with the people who can really deliver results. Getting to know the people behind the opportunities will serve you well. Not only will you know more about the job you’re getting into, they’ll know more about you.
Olivia Gamber is an organizational psychologist who helps gen-Y professionals figure out what they want to do with their career and then make it happen.