Job Hunters: 4 Tips on Using Social Media

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You're missing career opportunities if you're not on the major social networks – and using them the way employers want.

Are you on Facebook? How about Twitter and LinkedIn? If not, you might be hurting your job chances. A social media search has become standard in most human resources departments, according to a new survey of hiring managers.

“Social recruiting has become an essential HR practice, with 92 percent of U.S. companies using social networks and media to find talent in 2012, up from 78 percent five years ago,” claims a new survey by Jobvite, a recruiting software company.

Jobvite checked with 1,000 HR pros in June – and found 73 percent of them had made a hire through online social networks. Based on those findings, here’s some advice for a social media-savvy job search…

1. Get on LinkedIn now

LinkedIn is widely seen as the “professional” social network – profiles look like digital resumes – and that’s reflected in HR use: 93 percent of respondents search the site for candidates, and 89 percent who have made hires via social media did so at least once through LinkedIn. If you join just one major social network, it should be LinkedIn – although recruiters also look at personal blogs (21 percent), Google Plus (20 percent), and YouTube (19 percent).

2. Use Facebook strategically

Two-thirds of recruiters scour Facebook for talent, with 25 percent saying they’ve made hires there. What they really like to see (80 percent) is membership in professional organizations – that is, you’re active in your field and still looking to learn a thing or two. Also good? Philanthropy. “Two-thirds like to see volunteering or donating to a nonprofit,” Jobvite says. So if you’re spending weekends helping build houses for low-income families, snap some photos and upload an album.

3. Avoid social sins

As far as recruiters are concerned, thou shalt not talk about drugs (78 percent reacted negatively), alcohol (47 percent negative), or sex (67 percent negative) on social media. Thou shalt not use profanity (61 percent negative) or poor grammar (54 percent negative – a graver sin than drinking). Recruiters care less about your religion (53 percent neutral) and politics (62 percent neutral). And if you’re currently employed, it’s probably not a good idea to complain about your job or boss.

4. Withholding social media links won’t work

Just because you don’t mention your Twitter handle or your Facebook page in a job interview, don’t think they’ll go unnoticed. Jobvite says nearly three quarters of hiring managers check candidates’ profiles, and “48 percent always do so, even if they are not provided.”

It’s usually not hard to find people on a social network – they’re designed so you can locate friends. So fiddle with settings and learn how to manage your online privacy, or else start assuming everything you post is public knowledge.

Obviously, social media doesn’t guarantee you a job. But it’s one more tool for those looking to get hired – and as social media use continues to increase, it’s becoming an important one.

Stacy Johnson

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