The 2011 job market is ending on a positive note. With unemployment shrinking to a mere 8.6% — its lowest level since May 2008 — and a steadily growing economy, businesses are planning on hiring and recruiting even more as their confidence in customer demand builds.
In this new, growing market, those seeking their next dream job should cultivate their presence and contacts strategically in places where employers will be on the lookout for the best talent. According to the MSU survey [PDF] of more than 3,000 companies conducted last month, social media has flourished as a burgeoning recruitment strategy, becoming a more mainstream approach for companies of all sizes and industries, even the most conservative. For job seekers, social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter have established new ways getting discovered by employers, as well as directly reaching recruiters and hiring managers.
Here’s the scoop on what job seekers should know in order to be successful in today’s digital job market.
Your Social Media Profiles Are as Important Your Resume (If Not More Important)
The MSU report asserts that 36% of companies surveyed are using social media for recruiting. In today’s competitive market, recruiters look for the most current information on candidates, which is readily and easily available on social networks. Job seekers should actively include links to their complete and up-to-date Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter profiles in their applications. When creating your profiles, do not just import your resume — it often contains too much detailed information. Rather, build your profile from scratch with a concise description of your prior experience to grab a recruiter’s attention. To make yourself more discoverable, search engine optimize your title and skills.
Be sure to use social news streams as a dynamic extension of your traditional resume. Employers are interested in candidates who are passionate about their work. Job hopefuls should share interesting and relevant news about your industries and areas of expertise, demonstrating their knowledge and establishing yourself as an essential player in the fields. While the social news dialogue ought to maintain a professional tone, you should also reveal yourself to be a fun, authentic individual.
80% of Success is Showing up
Social media enables us to stand out, to be more noticeable, to differentiate ourselves from the masses and to tell the whole story behind and beyond a one-page resume. When contributing to your news streams and profiles, choose current topics of interest, start participating in discussions about your professional field and industry trends, and share your own hands-on tricks of the trade. Many companies are now making use of Facebook Pages that are dedicated exclusively to careers and hiring. These pages are generally run by recruiters and talent acquisition professionals that are looking to attract and hire candidates. Savvy job seekers should make use of these pages and proactively ask questions about job openings, the specifics of a company’s interview process, or any upcoming career events. Responses are generally instantaneous, and you will quickly establish connections within the company.
Additionally, every field has its own industry thought leaders broadcasting on Twitter. You should follow the influencers in your field, contribute to the discussion and share it with others who might be interested. Take advantage of @-mention feature to keep participants engaged and include hashtags to increase the visibility of your tweets.
You should also join LinkedIn Groups related to your field or moderated by a company you are interested in. Since hiring managers are always on the lookout for team players, you should establish a reputation by sharing your opinion, answering questions and offering advice in the group discussion forums. Join specific company groups to gain additional insight and keep up on the latest hiring news. Recruiters are very active in these groups, and taking steps to establish a positive LinkedIn presence will help to assure that you get a call.
Social Networks Enable Direct Interaction
There was a time when contacting recruiters on job sites and boards was difficult, and proactively reaching out to hiring managers was nearly impossible. Social media has created a culture of openness, and has all but eliminated the ‘black hole’ that resumes have fallen into for decades. Many companies even highlight their recruiters on job postings; not only can you contact a recruiter directly, but you can often view recruiters’ and hiring managers’ social media profiles before contacting them.
Job seekers need to connect to recruiters who are hiring in their field and location. If you don’t know them directly, subscribe to them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to stay current on all job openings, and work towards developing a positive relationship with them.
Your Networks Help You Find Jobs (and Help Employers Find You)
More companies than ever are cutting their job advertising budgets, opting to channel their recruiting efforts through referral hiring. The MSU report indicates that 44% of companies use referral hiring, and 49% tap into alumni networks in order to recruit. Companies are drawing on their employee’s social networks to share jobs and attract the most qualified candidates. The more extensive your personal network is, the greater your odds of encountering these unadvertised job opportunities.
Grow your networks by reaching out and connecting to people with whom you have either professional or personal relationships. If you don’t know the person well, begin by subscribing to their feed or ask a friend for an introduction. As in real life, opportunities can arise from any connection — a co-worker, a friend, a neighbor, etc. Many companies publish their job openings and career events on their Facebook Pages, so connect to the pages of companies that are of interest to you to start receiving active job openings in your news feed with little effort.
With the economy on the mend and hiring rates rising, job seekers should not hesitate to break into the social media sphere. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter offer an abundance of ways to connect with companies, foster your professional reputation, gain exposure to job postings, and ultimately, realize your professional aspirations. Establish your online professional brand and presence now. Your dream job is waiting for you.