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How to Use Social Media to Find a Job

Alum’s book offers tricks and strategies

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Joshua Waldman had an MBA from Boston University and a good job, but in 2006 he was laid off—twice. He started using social media to network, find open jobs, and eventually to get job interviews. It worked. In fact, it worked so well that by the time Waldman was offered a job, he no longer wanted one.

He wanted to write a book about how to use social media to find a job.

“I realized that social media can be used in a smart way,” says Waldman (GSM’06) from his home in Portland, Oreg. “I wanted to help people learn some of the tools and tips.”

Waldman’s book, Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies (Wylie, 2011), stresses the importance of letting the job seeker’s personality shine through to give employers a sense of who he or she really is. He recommends that job seekers take care to market themselves online only the way they want to be seen (no errant Facebook photos or outdated résumés), and that they make web-friendly résumés using video and LinkedIn. The book is part of the popular “For Dummies” series, with its signature bullet points and helpful chapter summaries.waldman_headshot

Now a vice president of social media at executive search firm Corporate Warriors, Waldman (right) leads training sessions for job seekers and human resource groups all over the world. He also runs the blog Career Enlightenment.

BU Today talked to Waldman about his tips for using social media to find a job.

BU Today: Has social media replaced personal contact when looking for a job?
Waldman: No. You still have to talk to people. It’s a mistake to hide behind the screen, because it’s not a replacement. When you meet someone on Twitter, ask them for a phone number or email address so you can continue the conversation offline. This is a word of caution, especially for students, who don’t have as much experience as some of their competition: don’t just post your résumé a thousand times and think you’re done; you have to kick yourself to get out there.

Then why is social media a good way to find a job?
Hiring has changed. Organizations have been able to save upwards of 40 to 60 percent in their recruiting costs because they don’t have to spend as much money when they recruit using social media. When the economy tanked, a lot of corporate recruiters and human resource officers lost their jobs. So instead, the hiring manager had to find and acquire talent. They weren’t paid to do this, so they started to gravitate towards Facebook, LinkedIn, and their own personal networks to find referrals. Hiring moved to the social media world.

Students are told they need to be careful about their privacy settings, but Facebook and Twitter can tell a hiring manager a little about their personality. What is the happy medium between privacy and pushing out to employers?
It’s a great point, because we want to enjoy our friends and social networks, but at the same time there is a risk. Social media turns us into publishers. It represents you. So while it’s great to play with your friends and post pictures and have personality, there needs to be an awareness that this might get in the wrong hands. Ask yourself, what if your mom saw it?

You’re going to get Googled; 80 percent of hiring managers admit to doing so. Companies search for you as a standard part of the background check before you even have an interview, and the U.S. government has even said it was OK. That first page of the Google search is called your “Google Resume.” You want everything on there to be good content, so you have to clean it up.

You also have to understand the privacy policy of the network you are using. You can totally goof around on Facebook and still have a very professional public-facing profile. You can use apps like BranchOut or BeKnown to plug into your Facebook profile so that it generates a public-facing professional profile, and a completely segmented professional network.

Your book says fit is a major reason companies hire a candidate and social media can show what kind of person you are. Considering your warnings, how do you make your personality come through in a fun way?
You need to be yourself and have a voice. If you know what your values are, and what your voice is, then it is OK to put your opinion or photos of your dog or vacation, because it is congruent with that image. Before you post a picture, ask yourself, is this in alignment with my image? You can have a wide range.

What about LinkedIn recommendations? How many should people have?
You want recommendations that are related to your skill set and your ability to lead and that stress what you can do. For a graduating senior, I would recommend having at least 10, and for someone in a career to have 20.

Is it really possible to find a job in 140 characters or less?
I just talked to someone who said that if it weren’t for Twitter, he wouldn’t have a job. He developed relationships with the owners of a company and when it was time to hire, the managers knew him because they had been tweeting back and forth. So Twitter is like a relationship engine.

People should use Twitter as a real-time job board. There are services out there that post jobs to Twitter days—if not weeks—before they get to the corporate website, let alone a job board. And we know that the sooner you apply to a job, the higher your chance is at getting it.

The website Twellow.com is a phenomenal source. It’s like the Yellow Pages for Twitter. Type in your city and state, and the word “jobs,” and you’ll find a list of Twitter accounts that tweet jobs in your area.

Twitter can also give you direct access to people like CEOs and hiring managers. When you’re on Twitter and engage in dialogue, you can retweet people who work at your target organizations. Eventually you can talk to those people, and take those conversations offline.

What are your tips or tricks for using social media to find a job or internship? Leave them in the comments section below.

6 Comments
Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

6 Comments on How to Use Social Media to Find a Job

  • Melissa Martin on 10.24.2011 at 4:42 pm

    Joshua Waldman is spot on! I like the comment that Twitter is a relationship engine.
    One observation-I think you meant to refer to twellow.com and not twello.com

    I highly recommend Joshua’s new book. It is a quintessential job search book for the twentieth century.
    Melissa C. Martin

  • Alissa Dos Santos on 10.24.2011 at 6:41 pm

    A little about me– I’m Alissa and I’m BranchOut’s University Marketing Manager. This is an awesome Q and A, Amy! Knowing how to use social media to help you navigate the job search these days is very important. Even if you don’t use Twitter to land a job, I’d argue it’s extremely valuable to know how to create a dialogue via social media avenues.

    I work for BranchOut, and you’re right on about leveraging your social network to help you get a job. If you want a job at Disney, you might not know someones who works there… but you can use our app to see if you have a friend of a friend at Disney. As opposed to sending your resume into a black hole, you can ask someone for an internal referral, or just get your resume on top of the stack.

    I run a Marketing Associate Program of about 50 students from across the country. We actually have a Marketing Associate at Boston University! We’re trying to get the word out about BranchOut on campuses so we can get students the internships and jobs they want and deserve. The truth is, real networking comes from real relationships– and those relationships already exist within your social graph on Facebook.

  • Anon on 10.25.2011 at 8:12 pm

    >That first page of the Google search is called your “Google Resume.”
    >You want everything on there to be good content, so you have to clean it up.
    … how??? Please, can anyone please please tell me how? I didn’t think I had any control over my “Google Image”, there’s lots of stuff on that first page which I haven’t done (including pictures of people who attended the same events as I, displayed as if it was me…).
    Is there a way to take the not-me stuff off Google? If anyone could help me please? I’m desperate…

  • Anon on 10.26.2011 at 12:51 pm

    Social media definitely presents a fine line that requires finesse when it’s used in the context of professional networking and job searches. This does a great job of explaining that, and how a “personal brand” can be both personal and professional.

    The viral #dearlisa campaign is an extreme example of how social media can be used to these ends. It certainly wouldn’t work for every (or even most) positions or people, but for those of you in social media who haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth checking out. I’m intrigued to see how people will use social media unconventionally in the future to demonstrate their skills and abilities.

    http://www.dearlisarudgers.com/#!updates

  • Ryan Pratt on 10.31.2011 at 3:07 pm

    Great advice! You can use our list of @MBAFocus/recruiters and @MBAFocus/ceos for beginners.

  • Lenka on 11.04.2011 at 4:17 pm

    I think that social media is an extremely valuable and powerful tool nowadays. I mean, take linkedin or graduateland and the huge number of jobs you can find with their help!

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