3 Social Media Tips for Your Post-Academic Job Search
What is the value of social media in a job search?
Well, stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
You’ve surely come across this piece of advice.
Well, regardless of what you think about it—and if you’re an academic, you probably hate hearing this—there’s no getting around the fact that personal connections and social media are integral parts of any job search.
So, if you’re a PhD ready to strike out beyond the academy, how can you use social media in your job search?
Here we offer several social media tips for your post-ac job search. Whether it’s expanding your pool of contacts, crafting a professional-looking online presence, or simply casting as wide a net as possible, social media can help you snag a job when you least expect it.
1. Tell People You’re Looking
Which do you have more of? LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends?
Probably Facebook friends, right?
Well, use them! Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job. Facebook in particular is a great tool for tracking down old friends and grad-school colleagues and seeing what they’ve been up to.
Don’t be afraid to ask for their help. If they made the transition from academia to a successful non-academic career, you can, too.
Shoot an old friend/colleague a message and ask for job-searching advice. It might go something like this:
Hi [name]! Long time, hope you’ve been well. I was just wondering what you’ve been up to these days, career-wise. I recently finished my PhD and am looking around for job opportunities in [area]. If you happen to hear about anything like that, please do let me know!
Same goes for Twitter, LinkedIn, and any number of other platforms. Your social media accounts are sort of like your personal, online storefront. Flip the sign in the window and tell everyone you’re open for business.
While LinkedIn is the premier employment-oriented social media platform, it is by no means the only place where jobs are posted.
Sure, people whose job it is to hire use LinkedIn. Hiring managers and staffing agents post jobs there all the time.
But for people who don’t routinely make hires and just happen to hear of a great opportunity at their or some other company, Facebook and Twitter are often their venues of choice.
If your Facebook friends are, you know, actually your friends, all the better! They may even be able to give you a referral. A referral is invaluable for ‘getting your foot in the door’ of a particular business or organization.
If you don’t have a Facebook or LinkedIn account, now’s the time to make one.
2. Cultivate Your Professional Online Presence
One of the best social media tips we can offer is to establish your profiles early and cultivate them consistently.
After all, ignoring social media is tantamount to letting Google manage your professional reputation.
Are you comfortable letting Google decide what comes up when people search your name? If not, a robust social media presence is the best way to regain control of your online image.
How do employers use social media to hire people? First of all, employers can and do look up potential employees on Facebook. You probably knew this already.
While we sometimes call this behavior ‘Facebook stalking’, there’s (typically) no malicious intent behind it. Employers aren’t looking for skeletons in your closet.
They simply like to have a full picture of who someone is before hiring them. Your Facebook profile is a piece of the puzzle that is ‘you.’
(Incidentally, this holds true for academic employers as well. Though their preferred venues are academia.edu and departmental home pages, they too like to scope out applicants online before making any hiring decisions.)
For this reason, it is essential to synchronize all your social media accounts. You must present a unified message online. Make sure your ‘About Me’ sections all say the same basic things and tell the same coherent story.
Obviously, LinkedIn should be the centerpiece of your professional online presence. But other social media platforms also have roles to play.
For each platform, your employment histories must line up. Your Facebook page cannot say you’re at a job while your LinkedIn page indicates you left that job months ago.
You can add social media profiles to your resume or personal website. If employers are going to look you up on Facebook anyway, you might as well make it easy for them!
In short, make it as easy as possible for employers to know you and trust you. No matter what career path you venture down, cultivating your online presence is vital.
3. Expand Your Networking Avenues
LinkedIn is a great launchpad for doing some basic networking at a business you’re interested in. See here for more on LinkedIn for PhDs.
After the initial contact, social media platforms are a great way to ‘follow up’ with people you’ve networked with.
Say you’re interested in a local business. You’ve called a few of the employees, talked to them about the kind of work they do, and even applied to a recent opening at the business.
The next step might be to follow that business, and the employees you contacted, on Twitter.
Twitter is useful for keeping up with news, trends, and influencers in your industry. It lets you join in industry conversations on a casual level, in a way that doesn’t feel like imposing or being too forward.
For example, would you ‘friend’ a hiring manager on Facebook? No! Would you ‘connect’ with them on LinkedIn? Possibly, though many people think even that’s a bit much. It comes across as too forward, and may give the wrong impression.
But ‘following’ someone on Twitter? Most everyone is okay with that!
In fact, some businesses advertise job openings on Twitter before any other platform. Follow the businesses you’re interested in now and be ready if a good opportunity pops up. Same goes for Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Remember, different people and employers have different preferred social platforms. To cast the widest possible net,
As you can see, there are plenty of notable advantages of using social media to get a job. To build an expansive and vibrant network of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, use all social media tips and tools at your disposal.
Face it, you need friends in this business. This sentiment holds true for academia, and for just about every career you might pursue afterwards.
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