It’s a precarious time when graduates start to job search. Parents eagerly await your next step, while some researchers lament the hardships of finding employment as a member of Generation Y. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. For you, the perfect opportunity could be on social media. LinkedIn, Twitter and other popular websites are connecting people with employers more than ever before. Here are tips on how to utilize them with advice from Ann Barrett, director of eRecruitment & social media strategy at Sun Life Financial and Paula Batras, talent acquisition manager at Cossette Communication Group.
Clean up your image
Recruiters often scour the Internet for information on potential new hires. The search results are their first impression of applicants, and Ms. Barrett stresses the importance of making a good one. “Once you start looking for a job, make sure your image online is professional,” she says. “You want to have a nice shot of yourself on LinkedIn or Facebook, and keep party or drinking photos private. Check the privacy settings on all the websites you use. Make sure the information available about you is positive, and try to remove anything that isn’t.” If there is a photo that you’d rather employers not see appearing in a Google search of your name, for instance, go directly to the website and delete it or ask the webmaster if they’re able to. It’s also important that the image you project be the same on every site. “A person may seem professional on LinkedIn, and very different on Facebook because it’s personal,” says Ms. Batras. “A recruiter could look at both.”
Once you’ve cleaned up your image, take advantage of networking opportunities by asking former and current co-workers if they have contacts at companies you’re interested in working for. On LinkedIn, send the contacts a message to introduce yourself and mention the shared connection. Alternatively, you could suggest that the shared connection introduce the two of you. “Recruiters get a lot of messages, and they often can’t respond to everyone,” says Ms. Batras. “When you share a connection, they’re more likely to look at your profile because you’re being referred by a familiar, trusted source. If you don’t share a connection, let the recruiter know exactly what kind of opportunity you’re looking for to save them time.”
Join a LinkedIn group
There are groups on LinkedIn for people in a wide range of careers. The purpose of these groups is to help you connect with other professionals, find a job, and obtain tips from leaders in the industry. Join an active group and post on the discussion board to make yourself more visible. Mention that you’re looking for a job, include a summary of your education and highlights from your work experiences. Ask the members to view your profile and contact you if they know of any opportunities. According to Ms. Barrett and Ms. Batras, this particular move showcases drive and initiative. “I would definitely click on the person’s profile,” says Ms. Barrett. “The more you do to make yourself noticeable, the better.”
Engage with recruiters and companies you’d like to work for on social media. Like their Facebook page, follow their official Twitter handle and LinkedIn profile. Build an online relationship by asking questions, replying to posts and sharing your feedback on initiatives. Ask if the company is hiring and who to contact for information. According to Ms. Barrett, many students and new graduates tend to take a passive approach to social media. “Interact and get your name out there. It’s almost like building a personal brand, and it shows that you’re interested in the company,” she says. “Our Facebook and Twitter accounts are managed daily. The more you participate, the more the person on the other end is thinking about you. If you’re an active user and you apply for a job with the company, mention that you’ve submitted a resume to increase the chances of it getting a look.”
Use your networks
Many universities and colleges have groups on Facebook for alumni to connect. It’s a great way to find people who are working in your chosen field and ask for guidance. “It’s not enough if you went to the same university as another person, you need a hook,” says Ms. Barrett. “Write that you’re graduating from the same program or that you’re interested in the same career, and want advice on how to get a job.” Ms. Barrett suggests that students reach out to these people two years before graduation to ensure they take the right steps toward their goal. A post in an alumni group might also be viewed by someone working at the school. “We have close relationships with universities and colleges,” says Ms. Batras. “They could direct you to the right person.”
Jacqueline Martinz is a freelance writer currently based in Waterloo, Ontario.