Money & Career

How to use social media to find your dream job

By: Kat Tancock

© Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©

Money & Career

How to use social media to find your dream job

By: Kat Tancock
It’s not enough to dress up for an interview these days. To really stand out, you have to dress up your online presence, too. Just ask Brenden Sherratt of Waterloo, Ont., who had been job hunting for months before turning to Twitter to track keywords such as "Waterloo" and "jobs," as well as asking his online network to share opportunities with him.

When a social media and marketing position came up at the local start-up Sortable, he sent in a three-minute video resume that secured him an interview within a half hour. To his interview, he brought twenty 140-character reference letters that he had requested from followers of his blog. "I sent a thank-you tweet after my interview," Brenden says, "and within 20 minutes of getting home, they called and offered me a job."

With today’s web of networks, connecting has never been quicker or easier. We’ve cut through the hype to find the essentials of job hunting in a digital world.

Professional networking sites
• "If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile in today’s job market, you’re really out of touch," says Andrew Stockton, a managing partner at executive recruitment firm Gilmore
Partners in Toronto. Other sites are out there – some specific to niche industries – but this is the one to start with.

• View LinkedIn as an online resume, says Stockton. Start with what’s on your current resume and build your profile from there. "The information there should portray the image you want to have in the market," says Wanda Brown, president of a Montreal-based management-search firm called I Consultation.

• A photo is a must, says Stockton, but make sure it’s professional, even if it’s casual. "You don’t necessarily want to have a picture of yourself holding a fish that you caught," says Brown.

• Have a strong tagline (the title that shows directly under your name) and summary in order to position yourself. Include relevant keywords, says Brown – words future employers might use to search for someone like you – including any certifications, professional organizations and descriptions of technical expertise. An event planner, for instance, might use keywords such as "trade shows," "conferences" and "nonprofit."

• "Recommendations are important," says Brown. Request them, not just from superiors, but from colleagues and subordinates.

Page 1 of  4 -- Learn about the importance of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter when it comes to job hunting on page 2
• Add a personal touch to your profile, such as a word or two about your small Prairie hometown. “You never know what people are looking for,” says Stockton.

• Join groups relevant to your field to stay up to date on news in your industry and to keep on top of any job postings.

• Connect with people you know – but be selective. “I believe, personally, that it should be people that you actually know or that you have some kind of a connection with,” Brown says. Be careful of who you add as a connection on networking sites and when you add them. Your current boss might be suspicious if her counterpart at a competing organization suddenly shows up on your profile. Remember that LinkedIn profiles can be seen by anyone, even if you're not connected.

Social media sites

• Treat your social media accounts as extensions of your personal brand. They might be fun, but they still contribute to your online image. Think about everything you post
online from the point of view of a potential employer or recruiter Googling you, says Brown. Will it turn them off, or get them more interested in meeting you?

• "Don’t have things on your Facebook page that you would not want a potential employer to see," says Brown. Think Facebook is private? It might be, but only if you’re 100 per cent sure you have the privacy settings right and trust all of your friends.

• If people in your industry are on Twitter, you should be too. Think of it as a virtual water cooler: Be there often, but not too often (lest people think you never do any actual work). Have conversations, not monologues. Most of all, be interesting.

• Unlike Facebook, the culture on Twitter allows for connecting with people you’ve never met, so follow people you’re interested in meeting. "Getting to know people within the sector that you want to work in will really help you," says Krystal Yee, a freelance writer from Vancouver now living in Germany.

• Give before expecting to receive. Reply to messages, answer calls for help and retweet interesting posts.

• On all social media sites, including LinkedIn, brand yourself as an expert by sharing links that reflect your professional and personal interests – and that reflect well on you.

• Avoid the temptation to use online tools to update all of your social media accounts at once with the same message. It might save time, but it can look like you don’t want to put in the effort.

Page 2 of 4 -- Discover why it's important to update your blog or personal website on page 3
• Ensure the user names you choose are professional or fun, never embarrassing. The current trend is simply using your first and last name.

• Use online tools and participate in communities that resonate personally and professionally. Photographers and design professionals will love Instagram and Pinterest for sharing and saving images; technical types will appreciate the culture and tools
on Google+; and knitters will wonder how they ever did without Ravelry.

Other digital media

• Enjoy writing and have something to say? Start a blog related to your intended career, suggests Yee. "Having your voice out there helps you build your own brand."

Update your blog or personal website often. "It’s important that it’s active, that it’s current, that it’s relevant and that it portrays the branding and image you want to
have in the market," says Brown.

• Be careful with online comments: People can find your name on any blog or website with a quick search. To be safe, use only your first name unless you’re saying something you intend to be public.

• Use technology to research jobs and prepare for interviews, too. "Today there’s no excuse for somebody to arrive at a company without a very good understanding of that
organization," says Brown.

• Step back and judge your email address: Is it professional? "We will sometimes see a CV and the email address is something like," says Brown. That will reflect on your overall impression, she says.

• Consider every touch point as a chance for potential employers to learn about how wonderful you are – and orient themselves with what you do. Your voice mail greeting, your writing style and your email signature are all as important as the jacket you wear to your interview. "Managing technology effectively today is really about personal branding," Brown says. "Everything you show from a public standpoint should maintain the professional image and branding you want to have."

Keeping all of this in mind, you should still try to have fun. After all, social media is just having a conversation on another platform.

Page 3 of 4 -- Find out how one woman took her hobby of blogging and turned it into her dream career on page 4
From Blogger to Writer
Five years ago, Krystal Yee discovered a community of personal finance bloggers while Googling "solutions to get out of debt." Soon after, she started a blog called Give Me Back My Five Bucks.

"I had no aspirations," says Yee, who recently quit her job in marketing and moved to Germany from Vancouver, a liberty that’s one of the benefits of her new freelance career. "I just used [the blog] as a way to keep myself accountable for my goals." When an editor came across the blog and offered Yee paid work, she started to see the potential income stream. "And it has just snowballed since then."

The biggest key to her success? Social media, especially Twitter, which she credits as helping her network easily and efficiently, especially because she lives so far away from the bulk of Canada’s writers and editors. "It’s kind of crazy," says Yee of her success. "I’ve completely switched from a full-time day job to a career in freelancing, pretty much just from using social media."

The power of getting personal
Trevor Ulmer wasn’t necessarily job hunting when a recruiter contacted him through his LinkedIn profile, which he had set up in 2009 after being laid off. He had kept his profile up to date, and it was the information there that made him stand out.

"What drew the recruiter to me was a mix of my experience and my being from small-town Saskatchewan," he says. His new company "probably has a higher per capita percentage of small-town Saskatchewan people than average," he says, so what seemed like a very personal detail became pertinent information to a recruiter looking for someone who would fit in at the company.

After a number of interviews, Ulmer, an engineer in the oil and gas industry in Calgary, took the job. Though he has no intention of changing jobs, he still keeps his LinkedIn profile current. "It’s not only for finding jobs," he says. "It’s for keeping in touch with people as well."

This story was originally titled "@Canadian_living guide to #jobhunting in a digital world" in the June 2012 issue.

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Money & Career

How to use social media to find your dream job