SM in 10When you’re in the midst of a job search, time is of the essence. You’re hitting the pavement, working on your resume, searching job sites, going to networking meetings, setting up face-to-face meetings and phone calls.

And then there’s social media.

Facebook… LinkedIn… Twitter… Google+… It can get so overwhelming. Calgon, take me away! (Anyone remember that commercial? Or am I dating myself?)

There are so many options when considering social media, and it can be so time-consuming. You can get sucked right in, and before you know it, you’re spending hours and hours and you still don’t have a job.

Still, social media is one of the most effective — and efficient — ways to reach a huge number of people very quickly. And when you’re in a situation where you’re looking for a job, most times, you want to find something as fast as possible.

The good news is that you can  approach social media in a manageable way that fits into your job search strategy — and you don’t have to spend a lot of time doing it. In fact, I’m going to outline a four-step process where you can spend as little as 10 minutes a day.

 

Step One: Manage Your Time

That’s right. In order to be effective, you have to set aside the time you want to spend on social media, specific to your job search, each day. Set a timer to keep you focused.

During that time, you need to give your full attention to the specific tasks that are related to your job search. Don’t let anything distract you. If you see an interesting post that doesn’t pertain to your job search, don’t click on it. This isn’t the time to gossip, to find out what your best friend has been up to or to post an update about taking your dog for a walk. This is your time to concentrate on activities associated with getting you a job. (More on this in step three.)

In addition, you need to be realistic about which social media tool will be the best and most useful for you. There are so many possibilities, but in order to be successful at really utilizing one of them for a job search, you should focus on one tool and do it well. A lot depends on what type of job you’re looking for, but for the most part, LinkedIn is one of the most popular social media tool for job seekers.

 

Step Two: Improve Your Profile

The first thing people will do when someone refers you or you contact them will be to check out your social media profile. You’ll want it to accurately reflect your personal brand and your capabilities.

Here are some ways you can update your profile in under 10 minutes a day. You don’t have to do everything at once, but if you do something every day, you will continue to make improvements on an ongoing basis, which is important to stay current.

  • Include a picture. People like to know who they’re interacting with virtually. It’s more personal, and that’s essential when you’re looking for a job.
  • Update your headline. Your headline is the first thing people see when they visit you on social media, and it’s often the most overlooked section of your profile. What goes in your headline determines how you appear in searches. Don’t just put a job title; you’ll want to use keywords that will help people find you. You don’t want to be overly creative with these, as that will prevent your name from coming up in search results. For example:
    • Use “writer,” not “wordsmith.” People will search for a “writer” but will not often seek out a “wordsmith.”
    • Describe what type of writer you are. Just putting “writer” is not descriptive enough. You need to put something in your title that further defines what type of writer you are, like “Marketing Writer and Editorial Specialist.”
    • Use more common words like “Social Media Writer” rather than “Social Media Conversation Catalyst” — you want to use something that people will actually search for.
  • Regularly update and review your background information. Every three months or so, take a look at your profile to make sure everything is still relevant and up-to-date. It’s easy to set up your profile and then let it go. I’ve seen people with information that’s over 20 years old, and outdated data can compromise your credibility.
  • Ask for recommendations. Reach out to a business colleague or prior boss and ask them to describe what they liked about working with you and how you added value in your position. A written testimonial is a powerful addition to your online profile and also serves as a reference. Most people don’t think about providing recommendations on their own but would be more than happy to provide one if asked.
  • Showcase your expertise. Share information about a project you’ve worked on. This will vary depending on the type of industry you work in, but it should be an example of something you’ve done successfully.

 

Step Three: Engage with Your Connections

It’s one thing to have a bunch of connections, fans and followers on social media. It’s another to actually interact with them. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Unless you’re actively engaging with your contacts, you won’t be forming meaningful virtual relationships. It’s through the development of important relationships that you’ll get the help you need in your job search. People are more likely to help people they know, like and trust. (You’ve heard that, right?)

So, here are some ideas for how you can interact on social media in just a few minutes a day that will help keep you top of mind:

  • Review your news feeds and “like” or comment on other posts. Your connections will like knowing that you find value in the information they’re sharing and will think of you when they see your response.
  • Provide a testimonial for someone in your network.
  • Retweet/share/re-post a few posts you find particularly thought-provoking.
  • Reach out to two or three people and send a personal note. Virtual interactions are nice and convenient, but someone will really appreciate a note from you just to find out how they’re doing.
  • Make a phone call to someone. It’s always nice to spend a few minutes catching up with someone in your network.
  • Be a resource and answer questions. Share your expertise when someone is asking about something related to your background.
  • Endorse another business or promote something about a business you have personal experience with. For instance, you might post a story about a personal experience you had with that business.

 

Step Four: Research and Stay Current

Social media contains a plethora of information about your industry and job opportunities. Take a few minutes and read some of it. Being up-to-date on news that’s going on will help you be better-prepared for interviews.

  • Read activity update on your news feed to keep a pulse on what’s going on in your industry and with your connections.
  • Check out company profiles for those companies that are on your radar. You can find out if there are job opportunities, as well as what’s going on with them, to provide you with insightful information you can use for a cover letter and for interviews. In addition, this will help you better understand the company culture and whether it would be a good fit for you.
  • Search for popular blogs in your industry to see what types of conversations are going on.
  • Set up news feeds for topics relevant to your industry.

 

Social media can be an extremely valuable resource in a job search if used efficiently and effectively. Take advantage of these ideas to get some traction on social media without losing time on unproductive activities.

Which social media network have you found most useful for the job search? How have you utilized it? Share your experiences below in the comments!

Image: Flickr