Charlie Duff is a digital engagement specialist and community manager for BraveNewTalent, a social platform enabling people to network with top employers
Getting established on LinkedIn can be tough when you don’t have work or industry contacts: For people just graduating, LinkedIn is a pretty barren area. With little experience and no work contacts (because they have been studying, of course) it’s hard, a bit bewildering, and I think it’s very easy for people who have been in work for years to forget that.
I was still at university when Facebook started – yes I am that old – and I remember the buzz there was around it. I didn’t go onto LinkedIn until I was about to leave my first job because I didn’t see the relevancy. I recommend it now, but I know how it feels and I sympathise with those who feel they have nothing to add to their profile on there. Of course what they need to do is get on there and add their skills – and any experience they can muster – and jump in, but it’s often not that easy.
See yourself as an editor of your own suite of magazines: I don’t think those new to social should be put off by the idea that they have to be on 24/7 and managing multiple accounts like a community pro. It’s best to be genuine, so have a personal account on each one and update as necessary. Generally you don’t want to link up all your accounts because you need different facets of your personality to shine through on different parts. On tone: See yourself as an editor of your own suite of life magazines. You’ve got your personal magazine, Facebook, where you share all the latest gossip and pics – it’s like Heat, but for you. Then you’ve got LinkedIn. This is your FT, where you are putting your best foot forward to show your professional side. Twitter can be as fun or professional as you like, but if you want to use it for business, make it like Wired: interesting, informative, cool.
Use Facebook to let your friends and family know you’re job seeking: If you don’t mind your Facebook being a channel for people to find you on, here’s a tip, put your key words in your interests (as this is how the search works). So for me it’s community, community management, social media, recruitment, HR, journalism, writing, blogging and so on. If, however, you prefer a little privacy, you can still use your Facebook presence and your connections on there for job seeking purposes (your friends are your job seeking starting point, always. They know you best, love you and would hire you, if they could. So why not start with them?).
Phil Ryan is head of digital for 3 Monkeys communications, advising clients on how best to leverage new and social media for their brand or business
Engage with a prospective employer rather than jumping straight in: I think there are two different routes. The first is using social media tools to identify and then communicate with prospective employers, the second is to then use the tools and platforms to communicate your knowledge, suitability or passion for a position. I’d still use the likes of LinkedIn for identification and communication, as it allows for more private communication. However, by following a prospective employer and engaging with them rather than jumping straight in and asking for job opportunities is the best advice I can give. Those I’ve noticed most are the people that can demonstrate they understand social media, but can also add to the debate and flag up things I may not know or have seen online.
Playing a numbers game via Twitter can give a bad impression: I think the ease of access, immediacy and in most cases the zero cost that social tools give us, means that common sense can sometimes go out the window. Tweeting at hundreds of people, across a number of sectors and jobs might be easy to do, but for anyone looking back through your stream it will be obvious you are playing the numbers game. That for me is the difference. The offline (traditional?) way is private, you write 1,000 letters and people won’t know. Use social media in the same way and you can see it won’t look great. It might even damage your prospects when you do come across that position that really is right for you.
Be open and honest about your employment status: Never be ashamed of being unemployed. Some agencies need freelancers and last minute part-time employees and so would love to be aware of your situation. It’s always best to be open and honest on all social networks.
Twitter facilitates face-to-face networking: I think the social space is networking, only bigger and better. This is where you start, develop a relationship and manage your network. But I also try to meet everyone face to face as well. I think Twitter facilitates this. It points me in the direction of opportunities to meet, such as mutual friends, networking events or just plain old asking to meet for a coffee.
Showing the full extent of your personality on Twitter or Facebook is something that needs to be considered carefully:You can combine different platforms to show both your professional side and your personality. I could never expect @RebeccaWho to get any job. As she swears, drinks and likes to be controversial. However, I think this mixed with my professional LinkedIn account is a powerful combination. It shows both my personality, backed up by the solid experience of my CV. Showing the full extent of your personality on an open Twitter or Facebook account is still something that needs to be considered carefully – I get away with it because I work in a more creative industry that’s quite relaxed, but if you’re looking at a more corporate environment they may look harder at your personal life.
Dr Mariann Hardey is a lecturer in marketing at Durham Business Schooland BBC North East commentator on social media and digital networks
Be prepared to play the long game once you know where you want to be: The best advice I can offer is to research the company that you want to apply for. Even if there are no vacancies, this worked for me on more than one occasion. Within that organisation track down the key people and offer an introduction to yourself, your future intentions and why you perceive yourself as a ‘good fit’. This means that with any future positions, they will think of you and be likely to get back to you. This little trick got me where I am today – believe it or not. What social media gives you is leverage and visibility. When you have identified key others you do not need to harass them, but keep an eye on what they are doing and how they are doing it.
For example, if you are keen on a particular job in the government, then you would research information about the particular party, establish a key network of people to take notice of and begin to build up a sense of what they are doing and how this fits with you. This is a long game process. The hunt of the job is hard work. Be prepared to do things that are not your ‘dream’ in the interim. I’ve done everything from folding T-shirts (good clothes allowance); waitressing (good for free food); writing (good for the soul); volunteering (OK doesn’t pay, but keeps you busy) and so on. From start to finish, it took me just under 12 months of hard graft everyday to get my current position. And yes, this involved some social media innovative thinking.
Michael Gregory is director and owner of Freshfield, a Lancashire-based marketing communications agency that advises companies and individuals on their use of social media, helping them communicate and engage with a range of target audiences including customers, politicians, trade organisations and the media
Make your Twitter presence ’employer-friendly’:
• Put your job pitch in your Twitter bio
• Use a professional-looking avatar
• Tweet about your job search
• Include a link to an online CV in your bio. Use a tool like VisualCV
• Establish yourself as an expert in your field on Twitter
The original version of this article can be found on Guardian Careers, along with loads more tips, chats and career advice.