If you're interested in using social media to find your next job, start with the right tools. Hashtags are one of the easiest resources to use to find job listings and openings.
First, What is a Hashtag?
If you've noticed tweets that have a "#" followed by one or several words, you've seen a hashtag. They're used to organize content around a theme. So people listing jobs or sharing content about employment would include "#employment" in their tweet, and anyone who searches for "#employment" would see those tweets.
Companies who post jobs on Twitter often use these hashtags to ensure that job seekers like you find them.
1. #JobListing. This hashtag states the obvious. This tweet contains a job listing.
2. #JobOpening. Another general hashtag for jobs. You will see jobs in multiple industries and countries.
3. #GEJobs. Some larger companies use their own hashtag for jobs they post. While you might not be interested in working for General Electric, it's an example of how companies use their own hashtags. See if companies you're interested in have their own.
4. #Marketing. If you're looking for a job in a particular field, try a specific hashtag like this. Job postings are few and far between, but you'll learn a lot about that field and meet people to network with.
5. #JobTips. If you're looking for career advice, you'll find content and suggestions from hiring professionals and recruiters.
6. #Freelance. Mainly advice for freelancers, there are also a few freelance positions posted here.
7. #JobHuntChat. Some hashtags are used for regular events, called Twitter chats. This one is held on Monday nights from 10 to 11 p.m. ET, and you can find all manner of career experts to get advice from.
8. #Résumé. Get links to articles and advice to help you improve your résumé.
9. #GraduateJobs. If you just finished college, this hashtag will help you find entry-level positions open to grads.
Using Hashtags Successfully
Okay, so now you have a list of hashtags. What do you do with them?
First, understand why you're looking at them. You'll have one or more goals in using them:
Each goal will require a slightly different strategy. For finding jobs, you'll want to skim through the hashtags that post jobs, click the links and apply for them. If you're looking to network, you'll spend more time following people and interacting with them. For career advice, you could participate in a Twitter chat or just click on links that people share for a given hashtag.
If you use a tool like HootSuite to manage your social media accounts, set up a search filter for whichever hashtags you're interested in. That way, when you log in, you can easily see in a single column all the tweets using a given hashtag. Pick and choose the tweets that interest you.
You can also simply go to Twitter.com and search for a hashtag manually.
You can follow the people using these hashtags if you want to do a little networking online. You can read the content they share and retweet the posts you like. You can respond to comments they've made to start a dialogue with decision-makers in human resources.
The sum total of all this hard work is to help position yourself as an ideal candidate, meet the right people to score an interview, and then finally, get your dream job.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.