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“In this day and age, your first impression isn't made with a firm handshake,” says Cindy Lyness, managing partner at Management Recruiters in Cedar Rapids. “It's typically made by a Google search, so it's important to brand yourself appropriately.”
Most people use social media like Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with friends and family, but these tools also can be used for professional networking and job searching.
“Social media gives you a chance to highlight your personality,” says Megan Watt, assistant director of the University of Iowa's Career Leadership Academy. “A resume is great for listing skills and experience qualifications. But social media lets you take it beyond that. There might be 100 people qualified for a job, but the employer is looking for someone who is a good fit for the company and team.”
Watt suggests weekly posts to professional links and content on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, such as articles you've read or interesting research or polls. She also recommends commenting on or participating in online conversations started by others in your professional online network through LinkedIn groups or Twitter chats.
Be sure to verify your online reputation by searching your name combined with your city or school or a company you've worked for.
It's OK to mix personal posts in as well, but Jeff Taylor, director at Skywalk Group in Cedar Rapids, emphasizes caution when doing so. “If you're looking for a job, don't be political or controversial when you're posting or commenting. Whether it's on a blog, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, social media can have an impact on whether you get a job.”
Most companies will conduct online research about applicants, so if you're posting inappropriate content, chances are high that it will be found.
One of Taylor's clients recently found an applicant who fit a job description perfectly. After interviewing the candidate, the company found something posted on the applicant's social media pages that they didn't like. As a result, the company didn't offer her the job.
Positive social media postings, however, can work in your favor. Watt says a University of Iowa Tippie College of Business student recently won a scholarship due to a haiku written as a tweet as part of the application process.
As employers research you online, make sure you're researching them as well. “It used to be that the interviewer knew everything about you because they had your resume, but you knew nothing about them,” says Watt. “Today, you can use social media to research the company, its employees and its customers. Things like that help you go in more prepared.”
Build Your Online Network
As part of your job search, take time to connect online with former co-workers, old classmates as well as people with whom you share common professional interests. “Instead of randomly connecting with someone because they're at a company or in a position you're interested in, find a common thread,” says Megan Watt, assistant director of the University of Iowa's Career Leadership Academy. “Send the person a message and say, ‘We're fellow Hawkeyes. I'm interested in this career field. Do you have five minutes to talk?' ”
Jeff Taylor, of Skywalk Group in Cedar Rapids, recommends reaching out to your social media contacts, if appropriate, to let them know about your career changes. Feel free to ask about organizations looking for employees in your field and ask your contacts for help expanding your network.
“You don't get a job just because you have a social media profile; you get a job because of who you're connected with, so it's important to build a quality network,” Watt says.
ATTEND A FREE SEMINAR
Utilizing Social Media in Your Job Search
Thursday, June 27 • 5:30 p.m. at the Corridor Career Fair, Cedar Rapids Clarion, 525 33rd Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
Social media tools are important in today's job search, however the number of social media options can be overwhelming. Should you use Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? Learn how to positively build your personal brand and find job opportunities using various social media tools. Presenter Jeff Taylor, from Skywalk Group in Cedar Rapids, also will discuss what to be aware of, and what not do with these social media tools.
Avoid these social media mistakes
Here are some tips from FindLaw.com on how to avoid career-limiting social media mistakes:
Want to check out what a potential employer may see about you online? Do a search of your name on any of the leading search engines to get a snapshot of how you appear digitally to others. If you see any red flags, manage them right away - or be prepared should an employer bring it up.
Complete your LinkedIn profile.
Many recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates. This is one place to put your best foot forward and attract employers. Don't treat it as an online resume with every career detail - just include highlights of your work history and accomplishments.
Don't lie or exaggerate your work experience.
The Internet offers employers the opportunity to corroborate information you claim about yourself. Therefore, it's wise to not lie or exaggerate on your resume or LinkedIn profile.
Avoid sharing sensitive work-related information.
Don't share privileged or confidential information about your company or customers. In the same way, don't vent about work. Don't complain about your boss. And certainly don't gripe about how boring work is.
Be careful about what photos you share.
With smartphone cameras connected directly to social networks, photos can easily be posted without a second thought. Photos of you participating in inappropriate behavior can quickly tarnish your professional reputation. Employers want employees who mirror company values. If they're looking for ways to quickly whittle down a large pool of candidates, this is one sure way.
Be cautious who you connect with.
In the world of business you're known by the company you keep. The same rule applies to social media. Everything you like on Facebook or follow on Linked-In or Twitter factors into your online reputation.