by Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)
With all the hype out there regarding social media and its relevance to the job search, it is hard to believe there is so much disagreement about what a social media job search really entails. The reason is because there are many different approaches you can take, and social media is so new that everyone is still an amateur (no wonder how many LinkedIn connections they have or Facebook friends…in fact, those are the people you should probably be wary of).
At the very least a social media (or “SoMe”) job seeker is prepared in the following ways:
- You paid to have the LinkedIn profile written (yes, paid)
- You sweated over your personal branding statement
- You set up your Twitter and Facebook info (and adctively use these sites)
- Maybe you even built a website to showcase your resume or started a blog
The problem for most job seekers (and where the lack of consensus comes in) is what to do once you’ve established all that.
The challenge for the social media job seeker is how to determine what is worth doing and what isn’t.
In my mind, it becomes a matter of content versus conversation. Most people are usually good with one but not so good with another. And some aren’t too sure about either.
If you’ve read my posts for a while now, you’ve heard me talk about “engagement” and “influence” when it comes to social media. (Check out “Social Media Job Search: It’s All About the Layering” and “Locked, Loaded, and Engaged: The Rules of Engagement“.) These terms are pretty much everywhere and hard to miss when you start researching the social media scene.
The other terms that are hard to miss are “content” and “conversation”. Over and over again you will hear “experts” talk about the importance of having “killer content” and “engaging conversation” as two key steps in gaining social media “influence.”
As a result, we now have a social media realm overloaded with info and, most likely, fake conversations. 🙂 And while everyone is trying to be so casual about it, the truth is that there is nothing casual about social media marketing.
And a social media job search is another form of social media marketing.
So should you spend all your time retweeting and sending out links to blogs and articles (some from you and some from others), or should you strike up witty conversations all over the web?
Unless you plan to devote hundreds of hours to learning all the social media strategies out there, my advice is to keep it simple and to remember why you are there in the first place:
Play up to your personal branding statement.
The whole idea of a personal branding statement is to present yourself in a unique, consistent way across all forms of connection. So when you approach what to say on Twitter or what to discuss in that LinkedIn group, you want to be thinking about how to reinforce your personal brand. If you specialize in X, talk about X, share posts about X, engage with others who know about X.
Now, that isn’t to say that you should be a one-trick pony. If you are, you’ll drive everyone crazy, but you do want to make sure that your followers know what you’re there for. My favorite approach is through images. I like to use cartoons, casual office pics, infographics, etc. and pepper that content in with my overarching message or brand.
People want to feel like they “know” the human side of you.
Think of it in terms of a neighbor. Most of us are curious about what our neighbors do for a living. “Steve’s a CIO.” In fact, we often share that info with others. (“That’s my neighbor, Steve. He’s a CIO at XX, Inc.”) But what really makes us happy is not just to know that Steve is a CIO but also to know that Steve is a CIO who has to mow his lawn or walk his dog just like everyone else. We don’t want too much info about Steve, but we want to know he’s a regular guy like we are (something politicians pay big bucks to advisors to try and portray but rarely do well because, well, they often aren’t all that regular when it comes down to it).
Another good analogy is golf. As a female, I have heard for years that the golf course was the haven of the old boys’ network. And after learning how to play several years ago, and now participating in a weekly league, I can see why. Golf is just about the most humbling experience a person can have and yet somehow still have fun. After a round of golf with someone, it’s hard not to have some connection. It doesn’t mean you know each other’s intimate details, but you do know something about the other person’s character. And that’s the kind of person you want to help out back at the office, etc.
Social media is just another form of converting that network into opportunities.
So you want to use your time on it to make people feel like they understand the person behind the brand.