Love it or hate it, social media has become a mainstay in the employment game. Recruiters check it for leads, human resources directors screen candidates based on it and hiring managers use it to do their due diligence before choosing whom to interview. In some ways, your online profile has become as important as your résumé.
To ensure your best shot at landing an interview in the digital age, consider this advice based on a poll of both career and social media experts.
Craft an Identity
"Social media can be used to create an identity and allow the user to show off a particular expertise. For example, using a certain hashtag or becoming recognized as an expert on Klout, Quora or Linkedin Groups can increase the appeal of a job candidate. Most employers do online searches on candidates before extending an interview or job offer. If the results come back showing their deep knowledge or interest in areas related to the organization, the likelihood of getting a call will be much greater."
– Simon Tam, Digital Marketing Strategist
Engage With Companies
"The key for job seekers is to do their research and seek out prospective employers who are leveraging social media to spread their employment brand. With a little bit of research and curiosity, job seekers can put themselves in front of these innovative organizations who are creating and cultivating dedicated 'careers' presences on social media specifically for this reason."
– Yair Riemer, Vice President of Global Marketing, CareerArc Group
Look for Side Doors
"Look for social media side doors to access. Does the CEO have a blog? Does the VP of Marketing tweet? Get on his or her radar by leaving interesting comments and providing the ego boost of a retweet or +1 now and then."
–Ian Greenleigh, author of "The Social Media Side Door: How to Bypass the Gatekeepers to Gain Greater Access and Influence"
Create the Right Footprint
"Social media can be your gold mine or flat line. We live in a world where we are 1 to 2 degrees away from the ultimate contact. Instead of posting about what happened on TV or a party, create a social media footprint that makes you look good. Highlight your work online and share it with potential employers. Offer to solve a problem or to help them figure something out. People notice when you are putting yourself out there and getting things done."
–Vannessa Wade, Social Media Consultant
"Develop a LinkedIn network before you need it, if possible. Then you won't be alone. Your network can help you get your foot in the door. Use LinkedIn's Advanced Search function to identify people in your network who work for or have connections at your target companies. And don't be afraid to ask for their help. Sell yourself in your LinkedIn profile. Employers will look at it. Don't be afraid to toot your own horn. Tout what you've accomplished during your career but – more importantly – explain what you're capable of bringing to a new employer."
–Wayne Breitbarth, author of "The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search"
Tweet Your Way In
"Create a professional user name and bio that includes your professional interests – and one or two personal details. Include tweets in your Twitter stream that demonstrate your interest in your field of job type of interest. Don't worry about always having something to say – retweeting and giving credit to the ideas of others shows that you are a team player. Use Twitter search engines to find people who work at – or recruit for – organizations of interest. Demonstrate your interest in their content before you say I want to work for you."
–Chandlee Bryan, Career Coach and co-author of "The Twitter Job Search Guide"
Don't Blow It
"Attracting an employer's attention with social media is a smart move because employers want to hire people that already love their company. The caveat to this is that social media can be a slippery slope when the lines between one's professional and personal brand become blurry. It's very easy to kill a relationship with an off-handed comment or a joke gone wrong. Don't slip up by becoming lazy or too casual with your social media content. After all, your future boss may be reading what you type."
–Lauren Milligan, Résumé Expert and Career Coach, ResuMAYDAY
Robin Madell has spent two decades as a writer, journalist and communications consultant on business, leadership, career and diversity issues. She has interviewed more than 200 thought leaders around the globe and has won 20 awards for editorial excellence. Robin serves as a speechwriter and ghostwriter for CEOs and top executives, with a specialized focus on women in business. She is author of "Surviving Your Thirties: Americans Talk About Life After 30" and co-author of "The Strong Principles: Career Success." You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.