At the age of 13, the one thing that I wanted more than anything else in this world was to have my own phone.
I’m not talking about the latest and greatest in cellular technology, either. No, I was desperate for a good old-fashioned landline. The day I came home to discover that my dear father had finally caved was, in a word, radical!
I no longer had to gossip with my friends in plain view of my family, while sitting on a stool in our kitchen.
Instead, I had the freedom to use the phone from the comfort of the foot of my bed, and use it I did.
Soon, not only was I making calls at a glutinous rate, my friends were doing the same.
I still remember the day, or maybe I should say morning, when our phone rang at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I answered quickly before my father walked in, staggered past me in his white undershirt and sweats, and proceeded to yank the cord from the wall. In two short months, I had turned my phone habits from normal teen use to downright telephone abuse.
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Fast forward to the present, when corded phones have succumbed to the rise of the cellphone, and hours of phone conversations have largely been replaced by social media. As a recruitment professional, I’ve embraced the use of social media as a viable platform for those seeking employment, in fact, a recent study revealed 92 percent of recruiters rely on social media and 76 percent say they find their best candidates this way.
I’ve written many times about effectively using social media in the job search, but there is a threshold where social media use turns into abuse. If you find yourself questioning whether you’re toeing the line, here are some guidelines to help you assess your situation.
Tact Is Where It’s At
The real power of social media lies is the connections you make. And while it’s a great way to expand your network, if you’re brashly reaching out to employers without being thoughtful and strategic, you could be stymying your chances of a successful job search.
Regardless of whether or not you have an established connection with an employer, remember to be thoughtful and cordial with your ask. Doing otherwise often mars an employer’s first impression of you as a professional.
Stalking Is Still Not in Vogue
Persistence does tend to pay off, but be careful in your pursuit of that dream job. Stalking is a real concern within the realm of social media—in fact, it’s often a worry that some job seekers face when putting themselves “out there” to potential employers. Consider the other side of the equation: As an employer, how would you view a bombardment of spam from a stranger?
You may chalk it up to enthusiasm, but there’s that tiny voice that begs the question, “Creeper?” Don’t get yourself blocked. Be thoughtful in what you’re commenting on and “liking.” Not every article, tweet and blog post needs to be acted upon. Instead, work to get the most impact in those times when you do re-tweet or comment.
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Use It or Lose It
OK, so maybe you won’t lose social media, but if you’ve still not embraced social media as an effective tool to job search, then that’s an abuse in its own right. CareerBuilder.com states that 89 percent of all job seekers rely on social media. Don’t let yourself be one of the 11 percent that may be missing out on great opportunities.
Also consider what platforms you’ve chosen to use; are you limiting yourself in this area? 67 percent, 45 percent and 40 percent, these are the percentages of professionals using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as part of their job search. If you’ve been exclusively using Facebook, consider giving Twitter or LinkedIn a shot.
Look in the Mirror
If you’re using social media, make sure you’ve taken a step back to look at your various profiles. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Would I want a potential employer to see this? Whether it be pictures of a late night building beer can pyramids, inappropriate or offensive tweets, or even “small” mistruths about your experience, consider the perception you’re giving to those looking at you as a potential fit within their organization. Better than having to “clean house,” try to avoid such material from the get-go. Consider it a form of preventative damage control.
- Does this reflect the best me? Social media is an outward expression of who you are. Do your profiles paint a clear picture of yourself and all that you’ve accomplished? Has it been a while since you’ve updated some things? If so, make sure these are in line with the present “you” and avoid missed opportunities.
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Searching for a job is a difficult task, but today’s technologies offer many creative ways to seek out new opportunities. Social media can be a powerful tool for job seekers, but remember that its use requires a skilled approach. Avoid having your “cords” ripped from the walls by heeding this guidance.