- By Gwen Moran
Finding a job these days often requires pulling out all the stops. That means updating the resumé, phoning former colleagues, and — gulp — diving into social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
If the social media part is a little foreign to you, join the crowd. Just 51 percent of Americans age 50 to 64 are posting, tweeting or friending, according to the Pew Research Center.
But social media is essential for job hunters. Fifty-five percent of companies plan to increase their investment in recruiting via social networks, but only 16 percent plan to spend more on online job boards, according to job search platform Jobvite.
For advice on the most effective ways to use social networks to land a new position, Next Avenue blogger Gwen Moran interviewed Brad and Debra Schepp, authors of How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (McGraw-Hill).
Q. What is the first thing job seekers need to do on their social networks?
A. LinkedIn is the most professionally focused social network, so setting up a full profile there is essential. It’s critical to include work experience that is relevant to the job you’re seeking, but not anything more than 20 years old.
Your LinkedIn profile should include your education, awards and recommendations from people who have done business with you. LinkedIn has a guide to completing your profile, which says that profiles done thoroughly are 40 times more likely to get job offers than ones that are not.
Q. Beyond setting up a profile, what LinkedIn tools can help you find employment?
A. Use LinkedIn’s jobs database, which has an algorithm to help match you to jobs that are right for you. Use the Search for Jobs field and type in the names of companies where you're interested in working.
The site will generate a list of employees who work for that company, so you can see if you’re connected to anyone in their networks. If so, you can request an introduction. Then you’ll have a contact at that company who may be able to give you information about finding a job there.
Also, be sure to sign up for and participate in LinkedIn groups, which can give you access to other people in your industry.
Q. Some experts say it’s not a good idea to use Facebook for job hunting. What do you think?
A. We disagree. At 850 million users, it’s too big a market to exclude. Recruiters are using many social media sites to find candidates, and they’re also using individual profiles to check out candidates.
So change your Facebook privacy settings so anyone can see some of the content on your page, and remove any posts that are overtly political or sensational. You can use Facebook Lists to control who can see your private communications.
Q. How do you look for jobs with Facebook?
A. Use the search box at the top of Facebook’s pages and enter “Find a Job,” and “Find a Job” plus your area. The site will return a number of results that might be useful. You can select a specific filter to narrow or expand results.
Also, the Facebook Marketplace application, with more than 1.2 million active monthly users, has a jobs database that is often overlooked.
Another Facebook app, called The Social Jobs Partnership, also has posts about openings and job-hunt strategies.
And be sure to join any Facebook groups that might have useful contacts, like your college alumni association.
Q. What about going to Facebook pages of particular companies you might want to work for?
A. Absolutely. You should follow those pages, since the companies might post jobs or leads there. Crystal Kendriks, who runs The Voice of Your Customer, a minority-owned marketing firm in Cincinnati, told us she uses her Facebook page to hire 30 to 40 people per month for focus groups and secret shopping assignments.
Q. How can Twitter and Google+ help?
A. You can use them to follow news from companies where you might want to work, and enable you to interact, via tweets and direct messages, with influencers there. Also, you can use Twitter to circulate interesting content that will position you as a thought leader.
Sites like TweetMyJobs.com help job seekers broadcast themselves. With TweetMyJobs, you simply enter the type of job, the industry and the location you want to work in. Then the site will craft your job hunt in 140 characters or fewer and send job matches from prospective employers to your Twitter account or through email or your cell phone.
TwitJobSearch.com is a job search engine for Twitter. Type in the kind of job you want and a location, and you’ll receive appropriate Twitter postings.
And be sure to follow recruiters in your field on Twitter, because they may tweet job openings.
For Google+, which is pretty new, you can search in the Google+ search box for companies and jobs by keywords pertaining to the type of job you're looking for, and then see job postings.
Q. What were some of the most creative uses of social media you found job hunters using as you researched the book?
A. One of the most creative things we saw was a guy who wanted to relocate back to his hometown of Pittsburgh. He created a LinkedIn group called Professionals Desiring Relocation to Pittsburgh and started connecting with people who were from there. About five weeks after starting the group, he connected with someone who invited him in for an interview at a large health care company in the Pittsburgh area. He landed a job there.