Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. I’ve been having unpopular thoughts. Thoughts many experts would surely slap my hand just for thinking, let alone saying out loud or committing to the Internet’s unending cache of ideas.
Are you ready for it?
Social media will not get you a job.
Before you hit the “Back” button, let me explain.
When it comes to using social media for job search, the biggest mistake people make has nothing to do with social media itself. I
f you really want to attract the attention of recruiters, it’s time to embrace your inner storyteller. Make a mental shift and focus less on the media and more on the message.
Step 1: Live a rich and fulfilling life
One of my all-time favourite examples of this is the World Rock Paper Scissors World Championships founded by brothers Douglas and Graham Walker in 2002.
Started because they love the game, the Walkers have since parlayed their passion for RPS into worldwide media coverage, getting hits on ABC, America’s NPR and CNN, the Discovery Channel, Rolling Stone, Men’s Health and more.
On the surface, RPS has nothing to do with their day-jobs — both have executive-level positions in advertising — but if you dig deeper, it’s easy to see the creative force that drives their RPS work is directly applicable to their professional lives.
In a nutshell: they’re following their passions and doing something interesting that’s worth talking, and tweeting, about.
Step 2: Have stories to tell (rich life leads to amazing stories)
Whenever I go out with a writer friend of mine, I’ll occasionally catch her in what I call a writer moment: staring off into the ether, lost in a private thought.
The first time it happened, I asked her where she’d gone, and she explained she was ‘crafting the lede'.
In journalism, the lede is the most important part of an article or story: the first sentence or sentences meant to capture the readers’ attention and draw them into the article. The best storytellers live their lives as if it is the story, and are constantly composing and revising phrases as they go about their day-to-day, asking, what’s the angle? How will I write about this?
Spend a day, weekend, or week practicing being a storyteller. Ask yourself how you can share your incredibly rich and fulfilling life (Step 1) in a way that’s meaningful to your target audience of recruiters, hiring managers, and industry leaders.
Step 3: Share your life stories through content
Once you have a story, don’t keep it to yourself.
While most people assume this means to “start a blog,’ what you really need is a platform — any kind of digital platform — that you enjoy. If you’re more of a talker than a writer, consider a podcast or video series.
If you’re an artist, consider illustrating your stories. If you don’t want to commit to a blog, but enjoy writing, pitch your stories to other blogs or traditional news outlets that share your target audience.
The key point here is: your content must somehow improve and enrich lives of a narrowly defined group of people.
Step 4: Spread your content with social media
This is where I see most people fail at social media: people either don’t create their own content, opting to send out a few SMH headline re-tweets before calling it a day, or they create brilliant content, but fail to share it widely and frequently.
Share like a professional marketer with these tips:
- Stick to the platforms recruiters are actually using to drive hiring decisions — LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter — and share your stories there.
- Use scheduling tools like Buffer to schedule posts during the times your audience is most likely to be online. Recruiters spend most of their working day on LinkedIn, but Facebook and Twitter have peak periods of use throughout the day and week. Use this research to your advantage.
- ‘One and done’ is a good rule for Facebook and LinkedIn, but is unlikely to get the results you want on Twitter. Don’t be afraid to share the same Tweet several times a day or week to get the maximum views. Just be sure to space them out so you’re reaching different people.
- Find platforms with a similar audience, and ask them to share your content. Make it easy by explaining why their audience would find the piece interesting and including a pre-set tweet or post they can copy and paste.
Step 5: Create a following
Content really is king when it comes to creating a following.
Certainly, you’ll need to engage with others to capture their attention, but you also need to demonstrate you’re worth following by consistently sharing content that’s of interest to your target audience (Steps 1 to 3).
To capture influencers’ attention on LinkedIn, you can start by giving out thumbs-ups or adding meaningful comments to posts. Consider finding, joining, and participating in LinkedIn groups, or starting your own.
When it comes to Twitter, start by following the people you want to connect with, actively engaging with them by re-tweeting or hitting ‘favourite'. Be sure to actually read what they’re linking to, and then respond using @ mentions to share your thoughts.
Where Facebook really has the power to shape your professional brand is by actively controlling privacy settings so content related to your professional life is publicly available, and anything you wouldn’t want a recruiter to see is locked down. Control privacy on individual posts by clicking the drop-down menu to the left of the blue “Post” button.
Once you’ve nailed down the basics, consider calling in the experts to pitch your status as an influencer. This is a secret big-name bloggers and social media influencers use to add hundreds or thousands of relevant, engaged followers in just a day or two.
Getting featured on a top influencer list will do huge things for your following, but it takes skill and perseverance.
Step 6: Leverage your following (achieve your goals while solving problems of others)
Combining strong storytelling with a solid social media strategy is a massively powerful medium, allowing you to control your professional brand’s message to the people that matter.
Rather than thinking about your strategy from a “me” perspective, ask yourself how you can solve your audience’s biggest pain points by:
- Sharing information about how to solve a key challenge facing the industry (and demonstrating how commercially savvy you are in the process);
- Helping them find something they need, or something they don’t know they need (and becoming a ‘go to’ source for the best resources);
- Offering up an in real life meeting to talk through an issue they’re facing (and establishing an offline connection you can build upon).
If you take away one thing from this post, I hope it’s this: creating a social media strategy that’s actually effective — in other words, it leads to jobs, speaking opportunities, consulting engagements, and ‘thought leader’ status — isn’t like a game of Snakes and Ladders: you can’t just skip to Step 4.
Where I see my clients struggle the most, and get the most frustrated, is when they haven’t invested in creating their own content.
Social media will not get you a job… on its own. The first step — and the one you should be devoting most of your focus to — is living a life which yields share-worthy stories.
A former HR Manager and Talent Acquisition Specialist, I once provided advice to top tier companies on their talent decisions. I now partner with C-level executives, non-executive directors and management professionals to position them as candidates of choice in today's ultra-competitive – and increasingly digital – job market.
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