With more employers using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to hire staff, Graham Snowdon explains the tactics and how jobseekers can use them to their advantage
Chances are you are already familiar with social networks as tools for keeping in touch with friends, or to broadcast your thoughts. But if their value as a way of connecting with potential employers has passed you by, it’s time to wise up fast. A recent US survey showed that nearly 90% of employers either use, or plan to use, social media for recruiting.
In the rapidly changing world of social recruitment, barely a week goes by without the appearance of some new website or gizmo purporting to change the face of job-hunting forever. Last month, for example, saw the launch of the “Apply with LinkedIn” button, enabling jobseekers to send their public profile data from the business professional network directly to an employer. Reports of the death of the traditional paper CV may be premature, but clearly it is becoming an increasingly less influential part of the jobseeker’s armoury.
LinkedIn, with 100 million members, is still the site of choice for companies hiring directly, but Facebook (750 million) and Twitter (200 million) are catching up, with many believing a tipping point has been reached in the ways employers seek to hire staff.
But what does it all mean for jobseekers? Understanding the rules of social recruitment is key. At first glance, employers may seem to hold all the cards, but understanding their tactics can considerably improve your odds of getting noticed.
“It’s about the whole degree of proactivity now,” says Matthew Jeffery, head of talent acquisition at software house Autodesk. “It’s not enough to simply push your CV up on the web and hope a company is going to come to you; the onus is on you to get out there and persuade.”
1 You don’t have to be ‘looking’ to be looking
If you are one of the 10% of LinkedIn members actively seeking work, the bad news is that the site’s Corporate Recruiter tool, which it sells to employers, allows them access to the “passive” 90% of members in jobs.
“From the corporate perspective, the talent pool is shrinking,” says Jeffery, co-author of an essay entitled Recruitment 3.0: A Vision for the Future of Recruitment. “Competitors are getting better at recruiting people from rivals, and graduate talent is becoming of a more mixed quality. We have to be much more aggressive at getting out into the passive pool.”
However, Jared Goralnick, founder of email management serviceAwayFind, believes social media can empower jobseekers.
“If employers are filtering for people who have jobs when they’re recruiting, maybe you can’t get into that pool. But it’s still only one of the pools,” he says. How people present themselves online, he says, is “a huge opportunity to put yourself in a position of authority”.
Goralnick says LinkedIn “has predictive algorithms that can tell when someone is looking to move on, when someone starts updating their profile in a certain way” – one reason why it pays to keep your profile up to date.
2 Build your own work brand, but be judicious with it
To make yourself more visible, think about how you present and express skills and experience on a LinkedIn profile just as carefully as you would with a paper CV. Keep your summary and experience concise and to the point, incorporating key search terms.
And widen your appeal by linking out to blogposts or articles of professional relevance – even to your other social media profiles if you are confident they portray you in a good light (see point five). LinkedIn has more tips here.
But making too much noise without substance can be risky. Employers can be suspicious of people who seem to be trying too hard to get noticed, so think carefully about paid-for services that claim to flag up your visibility, such as LinkedIn’s Job Seeker Premium.
“Who are you a ‘featured’ candidate for? All this tells me is that you opted to pay so you can get moved to the top of the search list. It does NOTHING to prove you are a top-notch candidate,” writes entrepreneur and employer Adrienne Graham on her Forbes blog, Work in Progress. “If you didn’t get attention before, what makes you think paying a few extra dollars will make you all of a sudden desirable?”