How vital is a social media presence in today’s job market?
By Erik Slagle
No doubt that job projections, unemployment numbers and the like are shifting daily. Uncertainty ripples back and forth between economic concerns and job availability; it’s common to hear employers lament a lack of qualified applicants for open positions, while job seekers complain about the difficulties of even getting a callback from the dozens of jobs they may apply for.
Numbers change, but trends can give a predictable long-term look at the way things are, well, trending. And one trend that doesn’t look to change any time soon is the importance of a social media presence that goes beyond the occasional Facebook or Instagram post. A recent USDL survey cited by an agency promoting job market readiness showed how this plays out:
93% of hiring managers say they will review a candidate’s social media profile before making a job offer
73% of recruiters reported hiring a candidate they found through social media
35% of employers said they’d be unlikely to interview a candidate who doesn’t have an online presence
In other words, if you’re still following the traditional route of looking for a job – posting your resume to job boards, responding to countless open job postings, and getting frustrated that no one’s calling back – it may be time to rethink your strategy.
This goes for experienced workers changing careers, unemployed workers trying to find their next gig, and, surprisingly, college grads just entering the workforce. Forty percent, according to the survey, aren’t finding solid, relevant work up to a year after they finish college or graduate school. (You can bet, though, that they’re expecting to start paying back those loans on time.) And yet few even in this demographic are fully leveraging social media to improve their job and career prospects.
When it comes to social media, LinkedIn is often the first site that comes to mind as a networking resource. A compelling and memorable LinkedIn profile, one that highlights your education, qualifications, accomplishments, and previous experiences, can of course get the attention of employers if they’re looking for you there. But that’s a passive use of this powerful too. Take it to the next level by writing posts of your own that discuss topics within your industry, and then promote those posts within your own network or by sharing them on your other social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Many consultants recommend having at least five hundred connections on LinkedIn, but it’s just as important WHO those connections are. Follow companies you’re most interested in, subscribe to get their updates, and engage with their posts in meaningful ways. (A simple “thumbs up” won’t do the trick.) You don’t necessarily need to pay for a premium membership to take advantage of the site either; most users report not seeing significant benefits from these “upgraded” features like seeing how you stack up against other applicants or accessing the LinkedIn Learning Library.
It's not all LinkedIn, of course. Facebook is also a site recruiters will check to get a sense of who you are (so clean up that profile and watch your public posts/photos!). Get on Twitter so you can quickly and directly engage with the company itself. Use Instagram to share content related to your career interests and allow employers to see you as the right “fit” for their organization. Because just as important as your skills, is that old adage, “People want to work with people they can work with.”