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September 19, 2013

How Can Social Media Help You Find Your Next Job?

“Whether you’re passively networking or actively searching for a job, it’s essential to use social media tools to your advantage,” says Peter Gray ’97, director of executive search at the QTI Group.
Peter Gray ’97

The job search has always been a social networking process, whether online or off. Most jobs are filled without ever being advertised, so whether you’re passively networking or actively searching for a job, it’s essential to use social media tools to your advantage. A few ways social media can help you find your next job:

Maximizing LinkedIn
You probably don’t need to be told that LinkedIn is the number one career-oriented social media site. It’s useful in two ways: as a networking platform and as a way to make yourself visible to executive recruiters. To get the most from LinkedIn:

“Be mindful of privacy settings, especially if you are currently employed but quietly using LinkedIn to network for your next job.”
  • Complete your profile and keep it updated. Include detailed language describing the industry and functional experience for which you would want to be “found.” Recruiters search LinkedIn using keywords.
  • If you upload a photo, use a professional-looking headshot, not a candid crop and definitely not a cell phone self-shot. LinkedIn isn’t Facebook.
  • Keep all content you post on LinkedIn strictly professional. Your presence there should have a regularly updated business profile but need not be a narrative of your daily doings and musings. Did I mention that LinkedIn isn’t Facebook?
  • Grow your network. Invite the people you know to become LinkedIn connections.
  • Join LinkedIn groups that fit your professional specialty and interests. Groups can help you network with people who share your professional niche or other affinities. (And join the official Columbia Business School Alumni group—more on that below.) Searching groups is also a way recruiters find talent with specialized skills.
  • When a connection approaches you for networking help, be helpful (or at least courteous).
  • Be mindful of privacy settings, especially if you are currently employed but quietly using LinkedIn to network for your next job. For example, LinkedIn (unlike Facebook) allows users to see if you have viewed their profiles unless you change a default privacy setting. Also, you’ll need to change another LinkedIn default privacy setting if you don’t want your LinkedIn profile to turn up when someone enters your name in Google or other search engines.

Stay Informed by Creating Alerts
I’m not sure if alerts technically qualify as “social media.” But they are a handy tool for keeping up to date on topics of interest, whether people, companies, jobs, or news stories.

  • LinkedIn and the job-posting search engines indeed.com and SimplyHired.com let you save custom job searches and receive e-mail alerts about jobs that match your search criteria.
  • It’s also a good idea to create a Google Alert of your own name with relevant keywords such as your company name, so you won’t be the last to know if you’ve been mentioned somewhere online.

Build “The Brand Called You”
Tom Peters’s influential 1997 Fast Company article “The Brand Called You” predates social media, but it’s not dated at all—its message of self-empowerment in the Internet age only grows in relevance as social technology advances. Social media supercharges our ability to build our personal brands.

  • Post comments, articles, or even create a blog or website on a topic that interests you. This is particularly worth doing for aspiring career changers who need to establish credibility in a new field of interest.
  • Be smart about what you post to avoid tarnishing your brand. Remember that anything you type online (including and especially e-mails and texts) is potentially public information. While you’re at it, keep Facebook and other sites clean of embarrassing photos and tags.

Use the School’s Alumni Website and Social Media Tools
As Columbia Business School alumni, we already have the benefit of a great education and a great credential. But our most valuable alumni assets are our ongoing relationships with the School and our alumni network. Cultivate those relationships with tools the School offers:

This list is not exhaustive, and I’m eager for feedback from other alumni on this topic. How have you used social media to help you find a job, and what would you recommend? E-mail me at pgray97@gsb.columbia.edu.