LinkedIn may be the premiere name in social media job networking, but if you work in any number of industries, Google+ may actually be just as powerful and important a platform for your career growth.
That’s because Google+, unlike its competitors, is a unique mix of the personal and the professional, allowing for better, deeper networking experiences and a much richer form of expertise-building. And with a user base that just keeps growing, it’s becoming an increasingly important site for getting found by all the right people. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
Using this detailed guide to Google+, we’ve applied the principles of the platform’s key capabilities to a typical job search. Below is how you can (and probably should!) use Google+ to increase your credibility and grow your career.
1. Optimize Your Profile
When you’re doing personal branding (especially for a job hunt), the goal isn’t just to present your resume and hope someone likes what they see. Instead, you want to tell a real story about who you are, your passions, what you can do in the world and what motivates you — the kind of story that will make an employer say, “This is just the expert we need on our team.” In that way, you really do want to approach your profile like you’re a business. The issue at hand shouldn’t be, “Can I work for you?”; it should be, “Here’s what I can do for you today.”
When you approach it from this perspective, you should naturally be using SEO keywords that are relevant for your search — though you may want to consciously slip in a few more. In your introduction section, state clearly that you’re looking for new roles, but emphasize your desire to grow; don’t rehash what you’ve done before. In the bragging rights section, don’t hesitate to detail a number of your accomplishments, but do it in a way that shows you’ve got a deep philosophy about what you’re doing and haven’t just been punching the clock. And, of course, make sure that you set your profile to “public” so it can be found in search.
By doing this, you’ll be doing something that’s closer to a reverse job search: attracting potential employers to you rather than pitching yourself all across the Internet, trying to determine just what keywords will get you through those Monster.com algorithms.
2. Showcase Your Talents
Given the visual nature of Google+, your profile page is pretty much a portfolio waiting to happen. This is all the more true if you work in a visual field, like design, architecture or cuisine.
If you’ve got a wealth of images to share, start with those that really highlight your creativity and versatility, rather than those that feature run-of-the-mill projects anyone could do. (These may be important for your industry, too, in which case you can provide a separate album.) Space your shares out over time rather than uploading them all at once, so that your followers will be more likely to engage with them. Steer clear of any kind of sharing language that sounds like an advertisement, focusing again on the philosophy behind the creation of the image or product featured and giving viewers an insight into your mentality and how you work.
Even if you don’t work in a visual field, your Google+ page is still a rich environment for providing samples of your work. Simply linking to blog posts, white papers or news stories about what you’ve done with a little commentary from you can go a long way towards establishing your credibility.
3. Strengthen Your Network with Circles
Google circles are often promoted as a privacy feature, as they allow users to create separate categories for, say, friends, family, colleagues, networking contacts (really, anything you can think of) and then choose with which circles they’ll share each post That’s definitely important in the professional sphere, as you may not want to share your job-seeking announcement with your current colleagues (not to mention those photo gems from your big birthday shindig).
But circles are also a key way to attract the attention of industry influencers to whom it would otherwise be difficult to gain an introduction. Let’s say, for example, that you really admire the work of a certain expert, who just so happens to work at your dream company. If they have a public profile, you can add them to one of your circles. Regardless of whether or not they add you back, you can then tag them in your own posts by typing a “+” sign and entering their name. Of course, you’ll only want to do so when you’ve got something really great and relevant to share, but if you do, you just might impress that expert enough to spark an interaction and gain visibility among her followers, as well as an “in” within her company.
What’s more, if you straddle a few different interest areas, separating contacts into relevant circles will help you more easily drop into each category and dive into conversations, allowing you to further establish your reputation.
4. Use Communities to Engage with Hiring Managers and Other Influencers
You’ve got the industry knowhow, you’ve got the talent, you’ve got the motivation and the personality, and you know that if you can just get in for an interview, you’ll land the position of your dreams. But that front door is locked, and no amount of knocking is getting you anywhere. Sound familiar?
We’ve discussed in other posts how features like LinkedIn groups can get you an interview simply by engaging in conversation with influencers. Google+ communities have the same power.
All you have to do is look for communities dedicated to a topic within your industry and expertise, comment constructively on discussion chains or start one of your own, and remain intelligent and respectful throughout. In doing so, you’ll be highlighting your expertise in a natural setting, and if you’ve made it clear in your about page that you’re hunting for a position, one of your target influencers just might reach out. Likewise, don’t hesitate to click on the profiles of the people with whom you’re engaged and reach out to them directly, as they might just know of positions that are right for you.
5. Increase Credibility by Making or Sharing Great Content
Expertise-building doesn’t just mean showing off your own work; it means actively curating the work of other experts, just like your favorite media sites do.
When you share thought-provoking articles, infographics and videos from within your industry, you’re showing your contacts that you’re deeply engaged with the philosophies of your field and actively working to build its future. This is far more impressive than a stream of posts that say, “Hey guys! Looking for a job.”
When you can’t find great content to share, you’re just as well-off (if not more so) making your own. Don’t shy away from sharing an opinion blog post or even a call to action to really shake up the industry. Or try hosting a Hangout. Much like a community gathering, a Hangout is a great way to establish your expertise while in conversation. And because it’s face-to-face, you’ll go a long way towards humanizing yourself so potential employers and other important contacts can get a sense of just how you’ll fit into their work environment.
Despite somewhat of a lackluster beginning, Google+’s growing user base and full suite of unique and helpful tools make it a great destination for professionals looking to grow their careers. Good luck on your hunt!
How can you make better use of your Google+ presence today?