This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.
If you’re a smart job searcher, you have probably researched everything there is to know about resumes, cover letters, interviews, and all of the other job-searching basics.
But you might not be as familiar with the newest member of the job search family: social media.
Sure, most people know how to use social media in their personal lives, but it actually has a lot of power to make (or break) your job search. Studies have shown that 92% of companies are using social media for hiring—and that three out of four hiring managers will check out a candidate’s social profiles.
So how can you tap into the power of social media (and avoid the pitfalls)? We’ve gathered all the tips you need to use every platform out there to your advantage. And if you want to learn even more? Sign up for our five-day email class on landing a job using social media.
General Social Media Job Search Tips
1. Get Everything Squeaky Clean
We hope you know this one already, but we have to mention it. Make sure any public information on your various profile is super clean. This doesn’t just mean profanities and party pics—you should also consider removing articles that are politically divisive or could be considered offensive, posts that are super random, long rants on a certain topic, and the like. SimpleWash is a great tool that can help you search your feeds for things to delete.
2. Don’t Have an Account on Everything
Being “active on social media” doesn’t mean opening an account on every platform possible. Quite the opposite in fact! It’s much better to have a well-crafted, up-to-date account on one or two platforms than to have a bunch of accounts that haven’t been touched in years. Every job seeker should have a LinkedIn account, and a Facebook or Twitter to show that you’re a real person doesn’t hurt. Beyond that, consider what’s really important for your industry. Social media guru Lily Herman walks you through the steps of figuring out what’s important here.
3. Use Your Real Name
It can be tempting to pick a punchy nickname or handle when making your profiles but, as much as possible, use your real name. This both looks more professional and means that people will be able to find your profiles when they search for your name. If you have a common name or often go by a nickname, at least choose a consistent name you’ll use across platforms, and try to have your real name somewhere on each account.
4. Keep Your Image Professional and Consistent
You should have a clear, friendly, recent, and appropriately professional image to use across all platforms. Not sure what “appropriately professional” means? Take a look around at what the people in your industry are wearing (or try outPhotoFeeler), to see how competent, influential, and friendly your photo makes you look.
5. Get Your Personal Branding Down
In addition to a consistent name and consistent photo, you should have a consistent brand across your social platforms. You want people to know who you are, what you do, and where you’re going. We could write (and, yes, have written!) entire articles about personal branding. If you don’t know how to define yours yet, this is a good place to start.
6. Use Your Social Accounts as Jumping Off Points
A social media account should never live in isolation—it should link off to somewhere that people can learn more about you. On all your social accounts, make sure to include a link to the project you’re working on, your personal website, your blog, or anywhere else someone could learn more about you.
7. Bring All Your Accounts Together in One Place
Conversely, make sure there’s a central hub where you can collect all of your various presences around the web. A personal website or landing page is a great option, or you could simply make sure to link to them all from your LinkedIn profile. Doing this will mean that whenever hiring managers or potential contacts search for you, they can easily find all the profiles you want them to see.
8. And Put Them on Your Job Search Materials
Your social profiles are now a great representation of who you are and where you’re going, so make sure they’re out there! Put your Twitter handle on your resume, mention your industry-specific network in your cover letter, and tell people where to find you on your business card or your email signature. If you’ve done the work to make them good and professional, don’t be shy about sharing them!
9. Don’t Use it for Professional Communications
While it’s okay to promote your professional social profiles in your job search materials, don’t use it for job-search related communications. In other words, you shouldn’t be badgering companies you’re applying to on Facebook or following up with recruiters after an interview on Twitter. Here’s why.
10. Use Scheduling Tools to Stay on Top of Things
Worried you won’t remember to update your social profiles regularly? There are plenty of tools out there that will allow you to schedule, get ahead, share things directly from your browser, and hardly have to think about keeping an active social presence. Buffer is one of our favorites, but there are plenty of others out there.
11. Get Your Profile Up to Snuff
Before you can really start networking on LinkedIn, you want to make sure your profile is the strongest it can be—that way you look seriously impressive as you’re connecting with new people. If you feel like yours still needs some work, check our our tips for LinkedIn profile success.
12. Come Up With a Plan
We know—very few people check LinkedIn every day in the same way they check Facebook or Twitter. But it’s beneficial to your job search to be updating it fairly regularly. To help keep yourself on track, come up with a plan for how often you’ll interact with LinkedIn. To help, career expert Lily Zhang has come up with a list of what you should be doing every day, week, and month on LinkedIn. Put it on your calendar if you have to!
13. (Mostly) Only Connect With People You Know
For the most part, you should only send people requests to connect on LinkedIn if you’ve interacted with them in some other way before—whether you worked together for five years, met at a networking event last night, or sent an email back and forth. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule, such as if it’s someone in the industry you’re interested in that you’re seeking an informational interview with or it’s someone you’d really, really like to work with. If you are reaching out to a stranger, just make sure you…
14. Send Personalized Messages to Anyone You Don’t Know
Any time you add someone new on LinkedIn, it sends them the generic “I’d like to add you on LinkedIn” script. This isn’t ideal, but it’s okay for people who are familiar with you. But if you’re reaching out cold to someone you’d like to meet? You should personalize that invitation to give context as to why you’re reaching out. LinkedIn has, oddly, made this more difficult to do, but if you go to said person’s profile and click the little arrow by “send InMail,” you can choose to personalize the invitation (learn how to do this on the app here). To read more about how to do this—and what to say—check out Herman’s advice for reaching out to someone you admire on LinkedIn.
15. Just Don’t Connect With the Hiring Manager
At least not until a decision has been made. Elliott Bell explains: “[The hiring manager] is interviewing not only you, but many others, trying to determine who will be the best person for the job and the company. Connecting over LinkedIn before a decision has been made can come off as both pushy and over-confident—like you’re certain that you’ll be the one who’s working closely with the interviewer over all those other candidates.” And if you don’t get the job? Then it’s okay to connect with the interviewer (sending a nice, professional note, of course!)—you know, in case something comes up.
16. Don’t Forget the Groups!
For many, groups are kind of the weird underbelly of LinkedIn; everyone knows they exist, most people are members of at least some, but very few people actively use them. If you’re a job-seeker, it’s time to change that! Joining groups can really help you connect with new professionals (in a more natural way than just coldly reaching out) and get more engaged with discussions in your industry. Career expert Jenny Foss has the skinny on how to pick the best groups to join and what to say once you’re in them.
17. Up Your LinkedIn SEO
As a job seeker on LinkedIn, the best thing that can happen is that a recruiter or hiring manager finds you and reaches out. So you should be doing everything you can to attract them to your profile! In this article, Zhang walks you through the steps of making your profile more findable, clickable, and likable—making you more hirable. (Hint: A stellar headline and carefully selected keywords are, well, key.)
18. Actually Connect With People You Don’t Know
Whether you reached out to them cold, they reached out to you, or you met in a group, you’ve now connected on LinkedIn with someone you’ve never interacted with in real life. Now what? The next—and most important—step, explains career expert Adrian J. Hopkins, is to actually connect with that person. Hop on a phone call, agree to meet up for coffee, or just send a few messages back and forth: Whatever it is, getting to know this stranger a little will make this connection really worth something—not just another number in your count.
19. Reconnect With People You Do Know
You know you should be staying in touch with your network. But it takes a lot of time! So use LinkedIn to make it a little easier on yourself. Did an old colleague just post that she got a new job? Comment to send her a congratulations! Did someone you met at an event just post a great article he wrote? Write back giving your thoughts on the piece. It’s a small gesture from you, but it will help keep you top-of-mind.
20. Tap Into Your Connections—Without Annoying Them
We all know you can use LinkedIn to see mutual connections between you and someone you’re hoping to meet—meaning theoretically you could have that person intro you. But you don’t want to annoy your contacts by asking for intros too often or assuming they’d be willing to help you out (especially if you, um, don’t actually know them that well). Muse editor-in-chief Adrian Granzella Larssen has some ideas for how to ask for intros the right way.
21. Keep Your Search Under the Radar
Unless you’re very publicly job searching (i.e., you don’t currently have a job), you don’t exactly want people to see all your activity on LinkedIn. And while your job-searching activity (such as viewing companies or applying to jobs) is automatically private, it would still look pretty fishy if your network saw that you suddenly updated everything in your profile. So, when you’re editing your profile, look down the right sidebar until you see the “Notify your network?” section, and flip the button to “off.”
22. Hack Your Insights Graph
You know that little graph you can see when you click on how many people have viewed your profile in the past week? Not only can you see how many people checked you out (and, in some cases, who), you can see how many actions you made in a given week. Zhang explains the value of this data: “That’s great news for users who are trying to figure out what increases profile engagement. Now, when you tweak your LinkedIn strategy, you can gauge how well it’s working by seeing who you’re attracting to your profile with each change.”
23. Look Like You’ve Been Using It
There’s nothing worse than a hiring manager Googling you, clicking on your Twitter, and finding that it hasn’t been updated in three years (or that you clearly tweeted 100 times in the past day just to make it look populated). If you have a Twitter account but haven’t touched it in a while, check out Herman’s advice for making it look like you’ve been using it forever.
24. Be a Thought Leader
While LinkedIn is a great place to show off your professional experience, Twitter is a great place to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. So, focus less on your personal accomplishments and more on sharing great articles about your field, commenting on news in your industry, and having a conversation with other major players. Mashable explains: “When you start to situate yourself as an expert in a specific subject area (for example, in comedy or politics), you’ll notice that people will begin to follow you for advice and expertise… As you start building your ‘brand’ on Twitter, think about why people are following or talking to you. Are you an expert in a particular industry? Are you opinionated? Funny? Do you share great news articles or interesting photos?”
25. But Don’t Just Share Your Own Stuff
Nothing looks worse—or turns off followers more—than a Twitter stream just promoting your own thing. So make sure to mix it up to really interact with the community! Share shout-outs (and links) to awesome projects your colleagues are working on. Re-tweet articles that others have shared that you really loved, too. I know it may seem counterintuitive that doing this will help you promote yourself, but trust us: You have to give to get.
26. Show Some Personality!
Also unlike LinkedIn, you should absolutely show off a little of what makes you unique on Twitter. Obviously you want to keep it professional—no cursing, telling your favorite kind-of-inappropriate jokes, or sharing articles that could be offensive or divisive—but consider using some of your tweeting time to share articles about your hobbies, comments on your favorite TV shows, or funny observations from your day-to-day life. Being a real person will make it much easier to connect with new people—and hiring managers looking at your profile will be able to see what a great, fun co-worker you’d be.
27. Follow Job Search Experts
Following job search experts is the obvious way to use Twitter for your job search—and it’s a good one! Doing so will keep your feed constantly updated with new advice and inspiration to help you land that next gig. We’ve got 15 great handles for you to follow to get started.
28. Follow Company Jobs Accounts
Many companies have specific Twitter accounts dedicated to their hiring initiatives—and following them is a great way to stay on top of any new positions. If it is a smaller company or doesn’t have a dedicated jobs account, following the main company account for places you’d like to work is a good idea. We’ve got some suggestions of great places to start there as well.
29. Follow Major Players in Your Field
Doing this is a great way to start building a community, start interacting with others in your field, and—if they follow you back—start being seen as a thought leader. A great way to begin engaging with strangers on Twitter is to re-tweet one of their posts that you like or reply to an article they posted thanking them for sharing or giving your two cents. Mashable explains: “[Twitter] is great for connecting meaningfully with people and companies you don’t already know, which is much more difficult to do on platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You can develop a rapport with people you may not have access to in real life.”
30. Follow People at Your Dream Companies
Besides following the experts and the companies, you should follow people who work at your dream companies, especially if they work in the departments you’re interested in. First of all, they will often tweet about job openings, helping you find them before other people do. Second, they’ll often help you stay abreast of company happenings, making you look on top of your game during interviews. Finally, there’s a small chance that you’ll develop an actual connection by interacting with them on Twitter—potentially giving you an in at the company.
31. Create Lists of All the Amazing People You Follow
Consider using Twitter’s list function to both help you keep up to date with the people who really matter amid the noise, and to show said people how much you admire them! Social recruiting expert Katrina Collier shares: “When you add users to a public list, they are notified—but this is a good thing, as it puts you on their radar again.”
32. Don’t Over-Interact
While it’s totally fine to follow, reply to, favorite, and share tweets from complete strangers in an effort to build up your network, you also don’t want to come on too strong. What does that mean? Don’t join conversations just to promote yourself, don’t favorite or retweet everything a person posts, don’t beg someone to follow you so you can direct message them, and don’t assume connecting on Twitter means you really know someone. Herman explains more about the pitfalls of Twitter networking here.
33. Use the Hashtag Search Function
Keep an eye out on Twitter for job-related hashtags. Employers who want to cast a wide net will often tweet out job applications with accompanying hashtags. You can also use that search bar to look for terms that apply to the job you want. For best results, type in words like “#jobs” or “#hiring” and other specifics that apply to your field and location; for example, “writer” and “New York City.”
34. Use Other Search Tools to Dig Deeper
Twitter’s search function is, admittedly, imperfect. Luckily, there are plenty of external tools ready to help you out. Collier recommends ManageFlitter for searching bios to find interesting people and Topsy for finding influencers in a certain subject matter. Learn more about how she uses them here.
35. Use Keywords in Your Bio
Recruiters sometimes use these same search tools, so make it easier for them to find you by putting keywords related to your industry in your bio! If nothing else, it will help people more quickly understand you when they stumble across you or want to learn more after you reply to one of their tweets.
36. Participate in Twitter Chats
In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, Twitter chats are online conversations, usually taking place around the same time every week, and centered around a hashtag—and they’re a great way to really build your network (and followers) on Twitter! Writer Liz Furl explains, “Through hashtag chats, you gain access to leaders in your field, learn things you wouldn’t have otherwise, and are given a platform to promote yourself and your endeavors. By participating, you’ll be rewarded with insider knowledge, as well as the chance to network with other people who share your interests or business ventures.” Check out her article to learn more on how they work and how to get involved.
37. Use Twitter to Improve Your In-Person Networking
Going to a conference or other big networking event? You can use Twitter to connect with the people at the event even better! Many such events will have a hashtag that will allow you to see who else is talking about it and what they are saying. You can share your thoughts, interact with others, see who’s interesting before the event even starts, and then ping them to meet up IRL once you’re there. Herman shares how she makes this work for her.
38. Don’t Hide Your Whole Profile
While it is advisable to keep most of your Facebook profile restricted to friends and family, some parts of it should be viewable by the public if you’re job searching. After all, employers will search for you on there to learn more about you, so you should have some information to show that you’re a normal, real person. We advise restricting most of your photos, wall posts, likes, and personal “About Me” info like relationship status, but keeping your main photo public (and professional), along with your employment and educational info.
39. Make Professional Status Updates Public
Are you sharing a link to an article you had published on an industry blog? An update about a new milestone you helped your company achieve? An announcement about an activity you’re participating in that shows some of your personality? We often post these on our Facebook for the support and excitement of our friends, but consider making some of them public. That way, when a recruiter does land on your page, he or she will see some activity and can learn a little more about you. We often think about it this way: If you would post it on your professional Twitter, consider making it a public Facebook post.
40. “Like” the Companies You Love
Have companies you know you’d really love to work for? “Like” their Facebook pages! By doing this, you can get daily updates about their activity—giving you talking points for an interview and potentially alerting you to job openings. Plus, there’s a chance that smaller companies will check to see if you’re a fan on Facebook, just to gauge how excited you really are about the job. Doing this definitely can’t hurt.
41. Consider Letting Your Connections Know You’re Searching
If you’re publicly job searching (a.k.a. don’t currently have a job) or if you knowthat your Facebook connections don’t include any co-workers or people who might relay information back to your boss, it could be worth posting a status update letting your connections know you’re on the hunt. Referrals are still one of the best ways to land a job, and your friends and family are going to be more wont to help you than that person you talked to once at a networking event—you never know who they know. Just be extra careful with this one: If there’s any chance word could get back to someone you work with, don’t do this. When in doubt, send an email blast or Facebook message to the people you know you can trust instead. Learn more on asking your network for help here.
Tips for Other Networks
42. Get Creative
Pinterest, Vine, or Instagram might not be the first platforms that come to mind as helpful for the job search, but don’t discount their potential impact. If you’re a creative professional (or have a large base of followers), you can take advantage of showcasing your eye for design, photography, and so on. And for anyone looking to break into startups, a presence on these platforms demonstrates that you’re up on the latest trends. Herman explains more about how Instagram can be useful in the job search.
43. Get Industry-Specific
There are plenty of other sites and networks out there that are dedicated to specific industries. GitHub is a prime example—if you’re a developer, it’s an essential place for showing off your work and connecting with others. If you’re a photographer? It would be smart to have a Flickr account. Designer or artist? Consider joining the Behance community. A writer? Try out Medium. If you’re not sure if there’s anything out there for your industry, ask a few colleagues or mentors to see if there’s anything you’re missing out on.
44. Use Them to Stand Out
Consider using some of these other platforms to help you get a little more creative in your job search materials. One of our favorite examples? When Dawn Siff created a six-second Vine video resume. We’ve also heard of people using Pinterest to create a visual resume. This can work especially well if you’re applying to a job at the actual social network you’re using!
45. Just Use Them to Help Yourself
Maybe some of the more fun social networks won’t help you get a job—but they can help you get organized along the way. For example, create a board of ideas for interview outfits, one of resume ideas and templates, one full of career advice to refer back to. It’ll make your job search a little more fun.
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