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Laid Off? Tell the World on Social Media

8 ways to do it to find your next job

By Kerry Hannon

When Sree Sreenivasan, 45, left his job as chief digital officer at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in June after three years there, it wasn’t his choice. “This decision has been made in the context of the recentering of the Museum’s work and our current financial restructuring,” the museum said in an internal memo. But Sreenivasan, previously chief digital officer at Columbia University, didn’t miss a beat after he was laid off.

laid off
Credit: Getty Images

Immediately, he jumped on Facebook and Twitter to tell his thousands of social media followers the news. On Facebook, Sreenivasan subtitled his post, “Onward and Upward.” On Twitter, he brazenly gave his job search a hashtag: #sree3oh

A Bold and Smart Move

That’s bold. It’s also really smart. These days, if you lose your job, spreading the word on social media could be one of the best things you can do to get your next job. I’ll give you some tips on how to do it shortly.

Sree Sreenivasan
Sree Sreenivasan  |  Credit: Deidre Schoo

Here’s more on what Sreenivasan did: When posting the Met’s memo, he also voiced his appreciation to the museum for getting the opportunity to usher it into the digital world and social media realm. Then he sketched out some of his plans — consulting, writing a book and taking a family vacation to India.

But here’s the best part of what he wrote: “If you want to invite me to anything, I now have time, including for meaningful cups of coffee and drinks. I’d also love to go walking with anyone available. I try to walk 5 miles a day, I plan to make it 8-10 miles this summer.”

Sreenivasan also included a link to a form asking his social media friends and fans for advice on what he should do next. Talk about a very public networking strategy.

Don't Lay Low After You're Laid Off

Most people with his lofty status would have discreetly laid low. They might have felt ashamed or self-conscious to be out of a job. Or they might not have wanted to seem needy by asking for help.

Since Sreenivasan posted his news on June 17, he received nearly 500 comments and over 1,000 Likes on Facebook. Roughly 1,000 people sent him suggestions, too. (He has around 5,000 Facebook friends, is followed by another 221,903 people and has 80,000 Twitter followers.)

It didn’t surprise me that within weeks, he was snapped up to become New York City's Chief Digital Officer. His audaciousness also caught the attention of the media. (Watch Roben Farzad’s PBS NewsHour story on Sreenivasan’s digital strategy to land a new position.)

While few people have the social media footprint Sreenivasan does, I believe there are many ways the rest of us can use social media to help land a job.

How Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter Can Help

For starters, being active on Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter — and announcing the news that you’re now available — makes it easier for recruiters to learn about you. For workers over 50, an online presence is also a way to show potential employers that you’re not intimidated by technology. That’s something some are wary about.

"Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resumé or cover letter," says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder.

8 Tips for Job Hunters

As I noted in my latest book, Getting the Job You Want After 50 For Dummies, there are a few other ways to let as many people know as possible that you’re looking for work. Here are eight of them:

1. Don’t be shy. Being out of work no longer carries the stigma it once did, so it’s perfectly fine to tell people on social media. And these days, most people get jobs through referrals from people they know. Be bold, like Sreenivasan, and ask for help and advice.

“I had no interest in talking about myself in a moment of weakness,” Sreenivasan told Farzad. “My goal was to get a job.”

2. Use your weak ties on social media. Marc Miller, of Career Pivot, recently wrote a Next Avenue article on the importance of weak ties in finding a job — weak ties are people you once worked with or knew in the past or who you know a little.

Colleagues from three decades ago or high school classmates may be among your Facebook friends or among your LinkedIn contacts. What’s the point of not taking advantage of all the years you have spent in the world — and all those whose lives have intersected with yours who might be in a position to help you?

Unless you were really prickly to work with or incompetent (not you!), most people will want to help. It makes them feel good. You’re not asking them for a job per se. You’re telling them you’re job hunting and perhaps asking them to connect you with others, or to brainstorm about possible opportunities.


“People may not always know what’s the right thing, but they want to help,” Sreenivasan told Farzad.

3. Tap into Twitter. I’m a Twitter fan for many reasons, but one selling point is that this social network doesn’t require a personal introduction or recommendation, as LinkedIn and Facebook do. Just by following others on Twitter, you can get the scoop on organizations and people you may wind up interviewing with or tapping for mentoring advice.

Twitter also is a good way to share ideas and tips with other job seekers and pros. As you follow others and post interesting tweets, you build your own following and broaden your personal network.

I chat daily with Twitter friends I’ve never met or worked with. We help each other out. In my case, they might suggest sources for stories I’m reporting or point me toward research on a topic.

4. Search Twitter for job feeds. There are dozens of job feeds for particular companies, industries and locations. Conduct a Twitter search to find relevant ones starting with “#jobsearch” and then your keywords. Or just type in keywords directly.

5. Get Twitter apps. CareerArc Job Search, for instance, delivers targeted job openings directly to you. Type in the job title you’re interested in or the skills you have, along with the city, state, and ZIP code of where you’d like to work. If you have the app, you can have your targeted jobs sent to you on a direct Twitter message. CareerArc will also send email them and send them as text messages.

6. Build out your LinkedIn profile. If you’re serious about job hunting today, a LinkedIn profile is non-negotiable. Unlike your one-dimensional print resumé, it highlights all your skills and interests in a far richer fashion. You can even feature videos, slideshows or work samples.

Check out LinkedIn profiles of other professionals in your field and see how they’ve done it. You might get ideas of the right keywords to enter in yours.

If you’re looking for work, I recommend including a mention of this in your LinkedIn profile as a signal to recruiters and hiring managers that you’re on the market. You could write something like: “Actively pursuing new opportunities X, Y and Z.”

Conclude your Summary with a sentence starting something like, “I am currently looking for new opportunities . . .” followed by a description of the work and situation you’re pursuing.

7. Follow prospective employers you’re interested in. They’re more likely to be interested in you if you show a genuine interest in them. So “follow” or “Like” them on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest. Following an organization also keeps you informed about what it’s up to and what’s going on in its industry.

Visit an organization’s page on LinkedIn and look at the How You’re Connected panel. It displays people you’re connected to there. Also, search for people you know who are employed at places where you’d like to work and invite them to connect. Once they do, ask if they can lend you a helping hand or offer advice.

8. Conduct a Facebook search. In the search bar, type "people who work at" and the name of an employer that interests you. You’ll likely find someone you know. Then click on "see more" and you may find other friends or acquaintances there.

Worth Doing if You're Not Looking, Too

Even if you aren’t job hunting now, it’s wise to manage your career with a social media strategy.

“Make sure that you use this opportunity to build out your network, to continue to build the digital skills that are relevant to your industry, your kind of work now, because one of the things we have learned is that jobs come and go,” Sreenivasan told NewsHour. “But your network never leaves.”

Photogtaph of Kerry Hannon
Kerry Hannon is the author of Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working From Home. She has covered personal finance, retirement and careers for The New York Times, Forbes, Money, U.S. News & World Report and USA Today, among others. She is the author of more than a dozen books including Never Too Old to Get Rich: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life, Money Confidence: Really Smart Financial Moves for Newly Single Women and What's Next? Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond. Her website is Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon. Read More
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