Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make When Using Social Media
Social media is probably one of the most hyped-up technologies you can use for a job search today. And often, things that get a lot of hype also come with a lot of misunderstanding. Companies, as well as individuals, have made some very damaging mistakes because they didn’t take the time to really understand social media.
Forgetting that social media is just a tool
Social media has a lot of excitement around it today, making it easy to believe all the hype and success stories and expect those same successes to happen to you instantly. New users of social media can sometimes think these tools are magical — but they’re not.
Treat social networking as you do in-person networking. Build your relationships over time and with care. Social media is just the tool; you still have to use that tool wisely and effectively.
Failing to think of what hiring managers need to see
Successful people on social networking sites don’t overly obsess about how spiffy their profiles look or what they’ve done in the past. Masters of social networking have good-looking and well-worded profiles, but they focus their time on interacting with potential employers and talking about how they can help them.
Learn from these masters. Focus your messaging on solving other people’s problems and explaining how you can help their business, their career, or their life.
Having an incomplete or outdated online presence
If you’re going to explore other social networks in addition to LinkedIn, such as XING or Brazen Careerist, don’t do it halfway. Decide to join a network and then do whatever it takes to complete a profile. Putting your best foot forward is a must. If you aren’t prepared to give it 100 percent, then don’t open the new profile in the first place.
Having an outdated profile out there means you risk looking inconsistent. As your personal brand changes and evolves, your newer profiles begin to differ more and more dramatically from the old ones that aren’t being maintained, and it just looks like you don’t care. Nothing is worse for your personal brand than a Twitter account with only three posts from two years ago!
Revealing too little personal information
Revealing a vast amount of personal information isn’t always going to help you in your job search, but leaving out all personal information can really hurt your chances of standing out in the job market. After all, the name of the game these days isn’t just what you can do but who you are and what makes you different.
Including a few well-chosen items about your personal life can do wonders for rounding out your image. By opening up about yourself, you make it easy for others with similar interests to relate to you.
For example, a friend’s son included on his LinkedIn profile that he’d hand-crafted a guitar over the summer. The hiring manager for an internship he applied to turned out to be a guitar enthusiast. Guess who was chosen for the most competitive internship that year!
Not understanding the etiquette of the networks they use
Not having a good understanding of the rules of one social network versus another is a major mistake because what’s acceptable on Twitter may be considered a faux pas on LinkedIn. So listen to and watch other people engage in each social network first before doing so yourself.
Sometimes, of course, you may have a message that’s appropriate on several networks, but for the most part, interacting and engaging with your audience in the way each individual network expects is the best option.
Avoid services that blast out the same message to multiple networks at the same time. You wouldn’t show up at a friend’s house for beer and pizza and start passing out your résumé, would you?
Not knowing their audience
Make sure your messages are appealing to the people who read them. For example, some people still think blogging is writing personal information about your life for the whole world to see. When, in fact, the best blogs are written for a very specific reason and for a well-defined audience.
As a job seeker, your audience will likely be other professionals in your industry and potential employers. As a general rule, these people don’t want to see your political views, religious views, or anything else that may cause controversy. Instead, focus on what makes you different, the value you can bring to the table, and your level of understanding and motivation about a field.
Ignoring face-to-face networking
The technology world is not only unpredictable but also volatile. Every connection you have online and every e-mail communication you send via a social network is owned by a company. If you aren’t taking ownership of your connections and communications, then you risk losing them later on if that company goes out of business.
The highest impact you can have communicating with someone else is face-to-face, not e-mail. Strive to conclude every online communication with a call to meet in person. Also seek out in-person networking opportunities in addition to the virtual ones. (Besides, you can always follow up from a day of traditional in-person networking by inviting your new friends to connect with you online.)