By John Patten
Sure, you’ve got your LinkedIn page fully up-to-date and your blog is posted — but are you really taking advantage of all of the free features available on social media sites to enhance your job search?
Many professionals miss out on some of the newer — and more innovative — sites and features you can tap into. Taking advantage of these sites not only increases your online presence, making you more visible to potential employers, but can also help you find new opportunities.
Here’s a quick rundown on six social media features you can access today:
• Do more than tweet with Twitter. Many people miss one of Twitter’s most valuable features: searches. A growing number of employers are tweeting new job openings and with the search feature, you can quickly check on new jobs by title, keyword or company. Tweet if you like, but don’t forget to follow to stay abreast of new opportunities.
• Showcase your projects with Instagram. If you have ever looked at this photo-based platform, you have probably seen lots of photos of Mylie Cyrus and wicker baskets (not necessarily in the same photos). It is obviously a great site for creative types to showcase a portfolio of art — but what if you showcase your completed projects instead? Upload photos of the project, team members, or whatever — any visual representation of your work is fair game.
• Got websites? Use Pinterest. Pinterest was designed as a bulletin board for websites: find an image on a webpage you like and “pin” it to your Pinterest page. But it makes a nice compliment to Instagram if you have a lot of images related to your professional life to share. You can post a virtual, visual resume. You can also check out the pages of potential employers: more than half a million companies have a presence on Pinterest.
• The pluses of Google+. Google’s social media project is a multi-faceted grab bag that offers more features in one place than any other social media site. It has features similar to Facebook — post up your status, photos, videos, etc., and those you’ve linked (in your “Circles”) will see them — but adds new dimensions such as Hangouts (think of it as a video-based LinkedIn group). It’s really a great platform, with more user control over who sees what. However, that very complexity can be off-putting to many. While Google+ was enjoying a surge in growth earlier this year, there are some concerns Google may be pulling back on support a bit — but you can find lots of great Hangouts to participate in, and build Circles.
• Make it real with YouTube. If you work in communications or marketing, having a video channel on YouTube is nearly a requirement. But even if you are in a different field, a YouTube channel offers a way to add a new presence online. With a little practice, you can craft a good video using your phone or digital camera — try making videos of your CAR statements, your elevator pitch and/or your resume. There’s an added benefit: you can see how you look to potential employers, too!
• Keep it all in check with HootSuite. It all sounds like a lot to manage: you’ve got your Facebook page, your LinkedIn page, and perhaps you can use one or two of these sites, also. What can you do to manage your sites more easily? Try a dashboard site such as HootSuite. A free HootSuite account allows you to setup access for five social media pages. Quickly post to one, two or all of them at once; setup Twitter searches to keep current on your favorite company’s tweets; and stay current on your LinkedIn updates — all on one page.
Keep in mind one of the prime advantages of social media: it is an active form of communication. When you post, a message goes out to those you are connected to. This is different than static webpages which have to wait for readers to come and read. It is becoming more and more important to understand how these platforms work in today’s workplace — what better way to learn than to put them to work for your job search?