Social Media and
Your Job Search


We all hear constantly about Facebook and Twitter and all the other social media. But you probably aren't making them the greatest asset in your job hunt. Which ones are most likely to lead to the right opportunity?

"No matter what kind of job you're looking for, I recommend LinkedIn," says Janet Fouts, a social media coach based in San Jose. "Most people overlook its value—they just drop their resume in, and forget about it. To make LinkedIn valuable, you have to stay on top of it."

At the very least, she suggests, shift around sections of your LinkedIn page. For job-hunting, use the top of your page to put, 'this is who I am, what I'm interested in' information. "You can embed lots of rich content, like a video—the content is what keeps people coming back to your profile." Fouts explains. Update your profile frequently, since that's what helps people find you. "Every time you make any change in your LinkedIn profile, an e-mail goes out to all your contacts. That pings them, and keeps you on top of mind."

Involvement in Groups

Get involved in LinkedIn groups; choose several that match your own interests. Once you join a particular group, notice who's posting and commenting. If you see that someone you'd like to talk with belongs to that group, participate, says Fouts, author of "Social Media Success" and three other books about social media. "Participating provides a way for you to connect with individuals you may not have had opportunity to reach out to, otherwise, like the CEO of a company you might like to approach".

Once you begin to post, "Other group members will start associating you with the smart things you say," Fouts notes. "The most effective way to participate is answering questions. If don't know the answer, search on Google to find a response. Or, look to your own network to see who you can recommend as an expert source. People appreciate those suggestions," and are more likely to accept your invitation to connect once they recognize your name.

Seeking Opinions

"Let people know you're interested in a particular topic," advises Fouts. Ask questions that show your knowledge. "Seeking other opinions also gets your name noticed. Say, 'I'm a professional specializing in [X], and I would like to know your thoughts on [a new technique or research report, for example].'"

Searching Twitter and Google+ yields current information and resources. "I use it to stay on top of industry news, magazines, companies, and leaders in my field. You'll get great material to share, which is valuable because social media is all about affinity and relationships. If people see me communicating online with someone known in their field, they'll associate me to industry leaders," says Fouts. The more you're seen as a professional in a particular area, the more likely that headhunters will contact you, she adds.

Advantage for Engineers

Fouts sees a big advantage for engineers and scientists. "We're all geeks," she says. "We love efficiency and data, and there's so much data out there. Few people understand that social media can also be very efficient."

For job-hunting, social media is all about scheduling your time, says Fouts, who's learned to complete her own very active social media use in about an hour a day. She breaks tasks into manageable units of about ten minutes, several times a day. For managing social media, Fouts is impressed with HootSuite, which "lets you access multiple networks from that one site, and schedule your posts. I recommend posting different things to different sites at different times." Fouts reads many tips from various blogs. "HootSuite lets me schedule them to go out to different sites at certain times throughout the day."

If someone responds to you on a social medium, and you don't reply for twelve hours, that's a lost opportunity, she cautions. Most networks let you set up alerts; LinkedIn will send daily or weekly summaries of what's going on. "Be sure to read them," Fouts stresses. Always check who's looking at your postings, too. "I set all my Twitter replies to go to my phone, so I can respond immediately. Replying only takes a few seconds. If you're marketing yourself, I recommend doing fifteen to twenty posts per day. Use the eighty/twenty rule: eighty percent about other people, twenty percent about you."

Once you learn to make your social media efficient, they'll be the most valuable tools in your job hunt, Fouts says. Ultimately, social media is about networking—sharing great information and expertise. And the best way to be an excellent networker is simple: "Become a great resource. Be able to connect others to the right people at the right time." In return, other people will soon be willing to connect you to contacts who can help your job hunt succeed.

Carol Milano is an independent writer.

Social media for your job hunt is all about scheduling your time.

Janet Fouts, a social media coach


October 2012

by Carol Milano,