Jobseekers’ Guide to Developing a Social Media Plan
Download and complete this Social Media Audit first. More than half of employers say they have rejected an applicant because of what they have found on the jobseeker’s social media profiles. This guide (with worksheets) will help them assess their current social media presence using a five-step audit process.
After you’ve the completed audit, follow the 5-step plan below. It will help you create, cultivate, and curate your social media accounts. “The Social Job Search Plan” includes checklists of specific tasks to complete to establish a social media presence and daily activities to engage online to build your network, increase your chances of being found, and tips to get your network to help you identify possible job opportunities.
Remember to complete the audit download first. Then it’s time to work on developing your online presence and social media plan so that it helps your chances of employment. This includes online reputation management, privacy settings, and using your social media accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) to assist in your job search. Keep reading for specific tips!
STEP ONE: Delete any accounts you’ve not going to commit to keeping up.
This might be a hard one for you! What? Delete a social media account? (Or more than one?) Yes. Is your blog a ghost town, populated with intermittent posts from a year ago? Do you have 10 Twitter followers and 15 tweets? (Did you only set up your Twitter account because someone told you that you need one?) Do you still have a Myspace account, but the last time you were on it, NSYNC was still together?
When it comes to your job search, it’s better not to have dormant accounts. Cast-off accounts make it look like you’re not committed. It’s better to have one or two active platforms you’re involved with than 5-6 platforms with content you don’t keep up with regularly.
Can’t bear the thought of permanently deleting your stuff? Check and see if you can temporarily deactivate your account. If that’s an option, you can do that instead of deleting the account entirely, at least while you’re searching for a new job.
Also, make sure you’ve deleted any inappropriate content, if you haven’t already. Remember, once something is posted on the Internet, it can potentially exist forever. However, deleting the content does make it harder for a prospective employer to find.
STEP TWO: Check your privacy settings on any accounts you’re keeping. Be mindful about what you’re doing.
First, make a list of the social media platforms you’re involved in. (There should be fewer of them, now that you’ve completed Step One!) Next, review the privacy settings for each platform. Not sure how to check the privacy settings? The easiest way is to Google “privacy settings + (social media platform).” For example, a search for Facebook privacy settings will take you to this help page:
You can also use Facebook’s “View As” feature to see how your profile appears to others. To use this feature, make sure you’re logged into your Facebook account. Then go to your profile and click the three dots.
Click “View as” in the dropdown menu. You’ll be able to see what your profile looks like to the general public. At the top of the page, just under the Facebook search box, if you choose “View as Specific Person,” you can enter an individual’s name, and Facebook will show you what your profile looks like to that person, based on your privacy settings. (You must be friends with the person to use this feature.)
Check the privacy settings for each of the social media platforms you’re using.
STEP THREE: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete.
LinkedIn is likely your most visible employment-related social media profile, so spend some time working to make sure it is up-to-date. The first thing to do is to make sure your LinkedIn profile is “complete” by LinkedIn’s standards.
To be considered “complete” by LinkedIn’s standards, you need these items in your LinkedIn profile:
Your Industry and location
An up-to-date current position (with description)
Two past positions
At least three skills
A profile photo
At least 50 connections
Profiles that meet all of these criteria are 40 times more likely to “receive opportunities,” according to LinkedIn.
Once your profile is “complete,” there are still several other tasks to complete on LinkedIn to make yourself more “findable” by prospective employers and recruiters.
Review the content of your LinkedIn profile. Make sure the content of your LinkedIn profile matches up with the information on your résumé. However, there is one important distinction between your résumé and LinkedIn profile: You can create multiple, customized versions of your résumé to target different types of positions. However, you can only have one LinkedIn profile. So make sure your Headline and Summary represent you for the type of position you’re seeking.
- If you haven’t already, set up your personalized URL for your LinkedIn profile.
By default, LinkedIn assigns you a URL with random numbers and letters. For branding purposes, you will want to customize the link.
You should always create a unique URL. An easy-to-read website address increases the chance of people being able to remember and find you on LinkedIn. You can also promote your custom signature link on your blog, Facebook page, and through email signatures.
You can use between 5-30 letters or numbers to build your custom URL. (You cannot use spaces, symbols, or special characters in your profile URL.) It may seem obvious, but make sure you use your name in your profile URL. If you have a common name, you may not be able to use just your name, so consider including a keyword related to your job or industry — for example, “BobSmithAccounting.”
Customize your URL on the “Edit Your Public Profile” page, underneath the “Customize Your Public Profile” section.
Click the “Create your custom URL” link.
All LinkedIn website addresses begin with http://www.linkedin.com/in
- Choose a professional photo for your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn profiles with pictures attract 50-70 percent more inquires than profiles without a photo.
Here are some tips for your profile photo:
• Choose an up-to-date photo. Your profile photo should be a recent photo of you — within the last 12-18 months.
• At a minimum, your photo should include your head and shoulders, not just a close-up of your face. You may also consider using a full body shot of you sitting or standing.
• Make sure you are the only person in your photo. Don’t crop other people out of your photo.
• Be sure to look at the background in the photo to make sure there is nothing distracting in it.
• If you have multiple photos to choose from, you can use the PhotoFeeler website (https://www.photofeeler.com/) to find the most effective profile photo.
- Ensure your contact information is available on the profile.
Make it easy for a prospective employer to connect with you. Include your phone number(s), email addresses, and other contact information in the “Advice for Contacting” section.
Click “Edit Profile” from the “Profile” menu, and it’s one of the sections you can add.
Depending on your privacy settings, this information can be visible to the public, so adjust your settings accordingly.
Remember, people who aren’t connected to you can’t email you, so including your contact information here can help your job search by giving them a way to reach you outside of LinkedIn. (You should also consider including a home or cell number in this section.)
Other things to include on your LinkedIn profile:
- Make sure you’ve included all the languages you speak.
- Include all the courses you’ve taken.
- Detail the key projects you’ve worked on (using the Project section).
Also, build up the number of Recommendations you have on your profile. Ideally, you want 1-2 Recommendations for every 100 contacts. Because the date the Recommendation was received will show up on your profile, aim to build your Recommendations slowly, over time. The best way to receive Recommendations is to give them. Commit to writing one Recommendation for people you’re connected to at least once a month.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do is to continue to build your network of connections. While LinkedIn only requires 50 connections for your profile to be “complete,” you need to grow your network beyond this. You should have a minimum of 100 connections. If you’re in an active job search, aim for making 10-25 new connections each month. The more connections you have, the better LinkedIn will work for you.
STEP FOUR: Update Your Other Social Media Profiles
Take some time to make sure that your other social media platforms are up-to-date. Review your profile photos and background images. For consistency, consider changing your profile photos on all of your social media accounts to the same (professional) photo. This can help the person looking for you to identify that they have the right person — especially for social media accounts that you want them to be looking at.
Also review any photo galleries associated with your account (for example, on Twitter and Facebook). Delete any controversial or offensive photos. (Remember, they won’t be gone entirely from the Internet, but at least they won’t be as easy to find.) Do the same for any potentially offensive content you have posted.
STEP FIVE: Deliberately Cultivate Your Online Presence
One of the best ways to boost your online profile is to curate your profiles. For the platforms you have decided to concentrate on, develop a schedule for adding new content that will enhance your social media presence.
For example, if you can commit to it, a personal blog is an excellent way to establish thought leadership and enhance your career prospects. However, you must be willing to post regularly — for example, once a week, or twice a month.
The first thing to do is to pick one platform to be your “home base.” This is where you will spend the majority of your time and effort. For many jobseekers, that’s LinkedIn, because it offers the best opportunity to connect with potential hiring managers and recruiters. Others may be more comfortable with Twitter, Facebook, or a blog. It doesn’t matter so much which platform you choose as that you choose a platform.
Set goals for yourself — what do you want to show up when you Google yourself? If you want your blog to rank higher in Google’s search results, you’ll need to spend some time developing and curating content, populating the profile, and engaging in activities that will increase the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of the blog.
If you’re not engaging in a confidential job search, use your social media profiles to let people know you’re looking — and to ask for specific help in identifying your next opportunity or employer.
If you identified any “gaps” in your online presence as part of your social media audit, join those social media networks and set up your profile and begin adding content to your account.
Finally, make engaging on social media a daily habit. You don’t have to spend hours each day building your online presence. You can spend as little as 15 minutes a day — or an hour a week — on your social media.
Here are some daily activities to consider:
- On LinkedIn: post a status update, check out the activities in your relevant Groups, make 1-2 new connections, “follow” a company you’d like to work for, and reach out to 1 existing connection (either by commenting on their status update, sending a message, or using LinkedIn’s “keep in touch” reminders to “like” or “comment” on your connections’ activities.
- On Facebook: post a status update, “like” the page of a company that you’d like to work for, and friend someone you used to work with (or send a message to someone you’re already friends with who might be able to help you with your job search).
- On Twitter: follow a company you’re interested in working for, tweet something job-related (make sure it’s positive in tone, not negative!), and retweet something interesting.
- On Pinterest: see if there are any boards related to your industry and follow one or more of them; research to see if a company you’d like to work for has a board, pin something career-related to one of your own boards, and connect with two new people.
- On your blog: Write a blog post, respond to comments, add a resource, or find a previous blog post that you can share to one of your other social media platforms. Research relevant blogs in your industry and sign up for email or RSS notifications for new posts. Comment on a blog post.
These are just a few of the possible activities you can consider each day. Another thing to consider is pre-scheduling content. You might write your blog post for the week on a Saturday, but schedule the post to publish on the following Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.
Remember this advice: “It doesn’t matter so much what you do, as that you do.” Don’t substitute social media activity for other actions related to your job search, but recognize that social media can help you build your network and keep yourself “top of mind” with people who are in a position to hire you, or help you identify possible job opportunities.