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Linking In, Moving Up

Reboot Your Career with Social Media

Allan Smith wasn’t hunting for a job. The 2007 MBA grad was a program manager with Amazon when a Google recruiter found his LinkedIn profile and reached out. Since the opportunity would mean a move to the Bay Area, Smith contacted a friend living there. As the two got talking, the friend sent Smith a screenshot of other jobs nearby, via his LinkedIn suggestions. One company, Veeva Systems, caught Smith’s attention, so he submitted his résumé. Now, Smith and his family are headed to California, where he will join Veeva’s employee success team.

Plugged in tablets with various websites open

“It all seemed a bit serendipitous to me, but it worked,” he says. “The fact remains that they posted the job on LinkedIn, which is where I found them. I wouldn’t have even been looking for a job if it hadn’t been for the Google recruiter who found my profile on LinkedIn.”

Smith is just one of millions using social media sites, like LinkedIn, to find great opportunities. Last year 21 percent of job seekers found their “favorite or best” job through a social network, according to the 2014 Job Seeker Nation Report by Jobvite.

Networking is becoming more literal than ever when it comes to finding jobs. Tap into LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to make social media work for you.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn website page

  1. Here’s Looking at You
    Unlike other social networks, LinkedIn tells you who’s looking at your profile and alerts others when you’ve viewed theirs. For the employed job seeker, be aware of what activity you’re making public. “Suddenly being friends with recruiters may send the wrong signal to your current employer,” says Brandon Harig, a digital communications expert.
  2. Your Story
    Think of the summary box as a 2,000-character chance to knock it out of the park. What you write here should showcase your personal strengths. Telling stories—about your approach to your field and your personal victories—is an engaging way to do this. This can be a place for personality, says Ryan Giles, a former account executive at LinkedIn. “Does your summary tell potential employers why you are special and why they should talk to you? Or does it look like you copied and pasted from some corporate boilerplate?”
  3. School Pride
    Letting LinkedIn know your school colors will let you tap into its powerful alumni search tool. Go to linkedin.com/alumni to see data on where BYU grads live and work. If you’re applying for a position, Giles recommends using this tool to find out if any BYU alums work at the company so you can reach out. “While applying is good, the person-to-person contact is much more effective in rising above the candidate pool,” he says.
  4. Been There, Nailed That
    The experience section proves you’ve got the chops to handle whatever comes your way. Fill it out with where you’ve worked and what you’ve accomplished in each position. Be sure to include all of your job history. LinkedIn uses this information to suggest job openings targeted at your experience. Say you’re an HR professional who dabbles in photography and web design; don’t hold back on including your broader experience. Companies are often looking for someone with just the right combination of skills.
  5. Keep It Current
    Potential employers are always looking; make sure you are too. According to Giles, setting up an account and forgetting about it is a tragic mistake. “Your profile has the potential to bring so many additional opportunities,” he says. “I’m surprised people don’t invest the time and energy to maintain it. We’re talking fifteen minutes a week for something that puts the key in the door of your dream job.”
  6. A Living Résumé
    Don’t just say it. Display it. Use the profile editing tools to add links, screen shots, and videos to show off what you’ve accomplished. Take a page from Rachael King, who received national attention for her living résumé on Pinterest. By pinning her traditional résumé at the top along with articles she was featured in and presentations she gave, she established herself as an online marketing expert. You can make a similar collection of your work, using Pinterest or an online portfolio service, to include on your profile.

LinkedIn Insider: Ryan Giles

As an account executive for LinkedIn, 2008 MBA grad Ryan Giles happily promoted a new kind of passivity that can change the way companies and potential employees—from all career stages—come together.

“Only about 20 percent of the population is actively looking for a job,” he says, drawing from several years of experience with social media’s no. 1 recruiting tool. “LinkedIn allows companies to access the other 80 percent of professionals. We’re encouraging companies—and this is usually how it works now—to go look at all the professionals and find the best fit. You’re going to open up a door they didn’t even know existed.”

Giles, now the director of talent at MobileIron, recommends that those looking for jobs be what he calls “passive candidates.” Tailor your language to convey that you are doing well in your current job but that you are open to exploring dream-job possibilities. Include key words in your profile to attract the types of companies you’re interested in.

Whether you’re active or passive, the most important thing is to be online.

“I get people stopping me all the time saying they found their next job on LinkedIn,” he says. “It’s a daily occurrence. Social is happening, and it’s real. You don’t have to participate, but just accept that you are going to miss out.”

Twitter

Twitter website

  1. Putting a Face with the Name
    Face the facts: profiles with pictures get viewed seven times more often than those without. “It doesn’t matter how attractive or unattractive you are,” Giles says. “Pictures matter.” Your picture doesn’t have to show you in professional dress, but it should be up-to-date and represent your personal brand.
  2. Character Counts
    Tweets can’t exceed 140 characters, but that’s no excuse for poor grammar. Whether you’re tweeting at a hiring manager or about a great vacation, too many shortcuts and spelling errors will get you noticed for the wrong reasons. Grammar and punctuation errors attract more negative reactions from recruiters than do references to alcohol use, according to Jobvite.
  3. Positively Profiled
    A whopping 93 percent of recruiters said they are likely to look at their candidates’ social profiles in a 2014 survey. This leads to both positive and negative assessments. Make sure those fall in your favor by checking who you’re following, photos you’re tagged in, and what you’re posting. A harmless inside joke may leave you looking incompetent or worse.

Facebook

Facebook website

  1. What’s on Your Mind with Some Caveats
    Facebook is a powerful way to let people know you’re looking for a job—but only when that’s the information you want out. If you are employed, Facebook is not a place to negatively discuss your current situation. “Do not ever publicly vent about a boss or colleague,” says Scott Hammond, a management professor at Utah State University and a 1987 MOB grad. “Even if they don’t see it, it undermines your reputation as much as it does theirs.”
  2. Friend of a Friend
    Before unfriending old acquaintances, note that they may be your most valuable job contacts. Of those using social media for the job hunt, 76 percent found their current job via Facebook. This may be in part attributed to what sociologist Mark Granovetter originally labeled “the strength of weak ties”: because infrequent contacts move in different social circles, they often have job information you don’t already have. As Hammond puts it, “A stranger won’t hire you. Your mother or father won’t hire you. But your parent’s best friend’s cousin will. They know you at the margin.”
  3. Show Me Some Skills
    #desperate and #downtrodden are not the tags you want on your Facebook pics. Actively manage your image by putting a positive spin on things. “People run from negative posts on social media,” Hammond says. While unemployed, one of Hammond’s former students posted daily about coaching his son’s Little League team. “Everyone knew I was looking for a job,” he reported. “I just wanted to remind them every day about me.” His efforts paid off. By the end of the summer, he was being introduced at interviews as “super dad.”

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Article written by Katie Pitts Olson

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