These days, most people who are looking for a job mainly – if not exclusively – use the Internet to do so. Alongside corporate websites and online job portals, social networks too are constantly gaining popularity as virtual job marts. But there are a few things everyone should know about the digital search for a job.
More and more companies are using social networks and their range to draw attention to job vacancies. This way, they know that their job ads will quickly and directly reach their target group. Conversely, social media also give candidates an easy way to find out about current vacancies and make contact with potential employers. Xing and LinkedIn in particular have become established as professional job portals: Over the past five years, both business networks have seen their number of users more than double. Xing and LinkedIn are the ideal places to look for jobs, as their clientele consists almost exclusively of professional people who present their career trajectory. By contrast, Facebook and Instagram have a strong focus on people’s private life. Looking up current and former colleagues and looking for employees of your target company are other key functions offered to users of Xing and LinkedIn, making them perfect forums for networking. HR teams also use these business platforms for recruiting, whereas Facebook and Twitter are better suited to proactive searches for job ads.
Once you have found a job offer that captures your enthusiasm, you can get in touch with the named contact person if you have any direct questions about the advertised position – regarding the requisite key competencies and/or the expected level of experience, for example. Always formulate your messages soberly and professionally, and don’t keep asking when you will get a reply. Under no circumstances should you send a Facebook friend request to the decision-maker or to other employees of the company.
The web as a digital calling card – Structure of a professional social media profile
Apart from being able to actively look for jobs on social networks, there is also the chance that a company will find you. In today’s world of Recruiting 2.0, HR people increasingly go hunting for potential new recruits – mainly via Xing and LinkedIn. Informative profiles that highlight your professional skills can therefore be a useful tool when looking for a job. Make sure your profile is complete and consistent. Employers like to see that potential new employees have a good command of social media and a broad network. It therefore makes sense to emphasize your personality and your capabilities. Show that you are well informed about what is going on in the world. Make regular posts, including serious and humorous comments or exciting vacation snaps. However, it is important to keep your profile invisible to strangers, so remember to make good use of the privacy settings.
To make a success of your career-related online activities, it is also extremely important to keep your social media profile up to date. Doing so enhances your visibility. On the other hand, failing to update your account from time to time could create the impression that you no longer use it. Don’t be shy about including even what seem to be trivial issues in your digital calling card. A weekend course on change management? A visit to a museum of technology? Publish the information! For an attractive job, it certainly upgrades your profile both as a person and as a potential candidate.
The Internet never forgets: Be careful about what you post!
Since you are present on the World Wide Web even for potential employers, be careful about what you post or publish where: You do not want your self-presentation on social media platforms to become a career killer! Surveys have found that every fourth HR manager has already decided not to short-list or recruit candidates because of single entries. Inappropriate and embarrassing photos, questionable gossip or legally dubious comments should therefore be deleted. To find them, google your name and check the photos that appear in the picture search. If you find information that you can neither delete nor edit, do everything you can to achieve more positive than negative search hits. Use pictures to underscore your image. Join corporate groups, take part in discussions and share relevant and sensible content.
What are the advantages and drawbacks of applying via social media platforms?
In closing this section, we would like to say a few things about the advantages and drawbacks of applying for jobs via social networks such as Xing and LinkedIn.
One major advantage of this form of application is that it lets you quickly communicate details of your skills, personal information and updates with an extensive reach. It is much easier and more effective to position yourself as an expert on social media than via analogue channels. Another benefit is that merely having an up-to-date and well-looked-after profile makes others perceive you as a media-savvy person with good digital skills. Both attributes are in demand in virtually every line of work these days. It is also much easier online to build up a network of interesting contacts and engage in fascinating discussions. Better still, headhunters and recruiters who would not otherwise have found you are more likely to come across an informative profile.
The relatively large amount of work involved in maintaining social media profiles can be seen as a disadvantage. Moreover, it is almost impossible to completely avoid dubious and at times downright malicious messages and inquiries. Similarly, it can be frustrating to receive frequent contacts that never lead to lasting cooperation. Possible misjudgments in your public image can be corrected, but may be widely circulated and could potentially damage your reputation before you remedy them. It is also important to know that your current employer (if you have one) could more easily learn of your efforts to leave the company.