By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC
You’ve landed an interview – congratulations! A great way to secure your chances of success at the interview stage is to leverage social media to help impress and relate to the interviewer. From the comfort of your home, you can research the company you’re interviewing with, get to know the team you’ll join, and be sure you’re putting your best foot forward. This is your opportunity to make a great first impression, and by recognizing the social media as a straightforward tool for comprehensive information about many aspects of a company, you can illustrate your eagerness and receptiveness to your potential new employer.
Where can you look?
Companies are tweeting their new job opportunities at an increasing frequency. Follow your target companies and keep your eyes on the “Twitter Feed”!
At first glance, a platform that was once strongly associated with what people are eating for breakfast and when they are walking the dog may not be for you. This is a tool that is rapidly becoming one of the top informational sources for jobseekers, networkers, and recruiters. Economize your writing style to 140 to develop your professional image, contribute to hot industry topics using the # (hashtag) symbol, and follow industry leaders, professionals and corporations for information sourcing and easy interaction.
When joining the “twitterverse” you have the opportunity to develop your personal “brand” (that is how you wish to be seen and associated with). Create a twitter “handle” (username) that is associated directly with your name and even your industry, for example “@HRJohnSmith”. Make use of the # when discussing key topics so that you can become easily searchable and can contribute to the ongoing forward-thinking conversation for your industry.
As you begin to dip your toes into the Twitter pool, I recommend that you construct 10 GREAT tweets that are focussed, concise, intelligent, and forward-thinking. Send them out straight away! Following on, “follow” 10-15 “non-threatening” users (non-political, non-extreme, non-celebrity) and build that brand!
This is your opportunity to join the conversation, reach out to people you know, and make connections to people you want to know.
Employers are looking at prospective candidates on LinkedIn every day, and they are also posting their employment opportunities up in real-time. Once you’ve applied for a job it is important to remember that this is one of the first sources of information they will look at (alongside your Resume, so include the link!). Make the best impression you can.
LinkedIn is the platform on the lips of all online professional networkers. This is the easiest way to develop your professional online personality. LinkedIn is comprehensive. Companies are registered, industry focus-groups are already established and are growing in number and quality every day.
When joining LinkedIn, be detailed, forward-thinking and enthusiastic when developing your profile. Tell people what you’ve done and share your accomplishments. Keep it positive! Your profile picture should be a professional headshot. It should be of a plain background, head and shoulders, and you should be dressed as if you’re going to work. “Selfies” do not cut it, neither do your favorite holiday pictures.
By “liking” a Company Page on Facebook, updates they make are automatically added to your newsfeed, and you can access all their previously posted information. It’s a good resource for further information.
Facebook is used in job search in two ways: another information source used by employers to gauge the character of their applicants, and another source of information about companies via their “Page”.
Facebook is a character portrait so remember to drown that “digital dirt”! Although Facebook is considered a personal social media platform, it is easily accessible (unless you adjust your privacy settings) by almost anyone. Be careful what you post! Images that are risque, or probably not showing you at your best are not advisable. Furthermore, try and keep controversial or difficult opinions offline. Be presentable, be positive, and remember that this is a dimension of your online personal “brand”.
You can access industry leaders, target companies, their employees and leaders in a quick and easy way. Unlike LinkedIn, permission is not necessary. Just join the “Circle”. Easy.
Google+ is new to the game in comparison to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and has taken some time to establish traction in the social media world, including its usefulness for jobseekers, but it has some really neat features.
“Circles” is a great way for a jobseeker to connect with influential people within an industry, or even within your target company. Interacting in industry-focused conversations is as much a benefit as tweeting and commenting in influential groups on LinkedIn. Google+ is also an excellent portal for you to tie in your other profiles on different social media platforms. It is all a part of building a cohesive and professional online brand!
How best to utilize your new source of information
Learn more about the company you’ll work with
Today, there is so much information on the Internet that is incredibly easy to access – within a very short time you are able to access earnings, learn about your potential new company’s positioning, and check numerous blogs and social media feeds for the very latest news on your company.
Take your time and assess all of the angles of your potential employer: visit the company’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, LinkedIn page, and look at top industry blogs such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and industry-specific blogs for news and updates. By doing this, you will prepare yourself for any specific, up-to-the-minute questions that come up in the interview, but you’ll also be better equipped to speak intelligently about the issues currently facing the company.
Get to know your future team
Everyone talks about the importance of networking when you’re getting ready for a new job, and social media developed an entirely new dimension to the process. Today, you even have the opportunity to get to know the team you’ll be working with before you even meet them in person through their online profiles.
When you land your interview, be sure to ask who you’ll be meeting with from your potential employer’s team. Then, you can check your LinkedIn contacts to see whether you have any common connections that might help you get to know the team or the company a little bit better. It’s also wise to spend some time diving into each person’s work history and experience – that way, you’ll know their background and skill set when walking into your interview – you may even find you have some things in common!
Put your best foot forward
Focusing on your prospective employer’s social media habits is one really important facet to your upcoming interview, but don’t forget your own presence! There are hundreds of articles about the perils of an unkempt social media page, and how it can affect your chances at a new job. But more importantly, you have an opportunity to make those channels shine, and to have them work in your favor as you get ready for your interview.
Many employers will take at least a brief look at your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook page as they prepare to meet you in person. This is your opportunity to show that you’re professional – but that you also have personality! Showcase your professional interests, and don’t forget to engage in conversations with others to show you’re participating beyond your own interests as well. You’d be surprised at how many employers look at this as an important part of the ideal employee package!
Let’s get to work!
Every success –
Linda Van Valkenburgh
For career coaching, resume services, networking events, and extra information, contact Linda at [email protected].