Landing the Job: Social and In-Person First Impressions
When it comes to landing your dream job, it appears that social media may be a valuable tool for marketing yourself just as well as cover letters and résumés have done in the past. With stiff competition for jobs, it takes due diligence to separate yourself from the crowd and connect with people… literally, in any way that you can. This means that exploring networks like LinkedIn or Google+ for channels of communication to lead staffers may be your ticket to that first interview. According to a Bullhorn report (2013), LinkedIn is now the most popular website for job recruiting.
There are four easy steps that any hopeful job hunter should do to make that connection and land the first interview.
1: Do Your Research.
Every job search should start with research. While I’m sure you’ve heard about this critical step a hundred times, your search now needs to be social as well. Going beyond the company website and press releases, check out public staff blogs and company Facebook / LinkedIn / Google+ pages to see if you’d be a good match for the company.
Consider the “voice” that the company projects on social media websites and if you identify with it. Tone and social stance can play a crucial role on brand identity and whether or not that is going to work for you. It is also important to search for staff members, and understand where they come from and if they are invested fully into their own company. LinkedIn is a great starting line for this task, which serves to humanize the staff member’s professional experience in a timeline, helping you make sense of professional connections and the type of people that get hired by the company. Enthusiasm for the job description is a giveaway for the type of employee morale that may be present… or not present.
2: Make a “Social” Impression.
When the research is complete, it is time to socialize! Follow, Like, subscribe until you don’t have any “clicks” left to click. Be active in discussions and promote the company’s Internet contributions (blogs, podcasts, discussion boards, infographics, etc.) to get your name out there and show that you are interested in the field. This may be very advantageous when it comes to someone who may be scanning through resumes in the future, *hint hint*. You will also want to develop your own LinkedIn professional profile that outlines any work or volunteer experience you possess. The most influential part of your profile, however, is the summary. You have two inches to describe who you are and what you are looking for, with keywords such as:
“Seeking opportunities in…” “Skills include…” and “Looking to learn and contribute.”
When your profile is fine tuned and ready, you should start connecting to staff members to build networks that reflect your interest in the company as a whole (as opposed to solely the paid position you’re after). Keep your profile updated and pick a profile picture that is appropriate. When connecting, keep your invitation messages brief:
“Hello, I would like to connect with you via LinkedIn and am very interested in this company as a potential career opportunity for me. I feel that my experience at [skill] would make me an excellent addition to the team someday.”
While they may or may not choose to respond, if you can build a noteworthy network of employees, at least one of the company staff members will take notice and attribute qualities like “dedicated,” “motivated,” and “interested” to your character. This is the first impression you want to make.
3: Make an “In-Person” Impression.
This is the hardest (and most intimidating) part of the process, but definitely not a step to skip, either. Once you create an online presence for yourself and become actively involved in the company through social media channels, make an in-person appearance. Start by sending an e-mail to the department head of the most interest to you, and communicate to that person that you’re interested in the company and would love to set up a phone-call to discuss the possibility of a future opening. Take this time to cite your online interactions with the company and why you feel that you possess the skills to continue on the path of success using your skills and enthusiasm. Especially when you’re looking for an internship position, be aware that no such position may be available or posted publicly. However, it is your job to market yourself and make them understand what you can add to the company as a whole. If the department lead was not considering a position for you initially, you need to make a well-informed, thorough case for why you should be a part of the team. Apart from fulfilling some kind of a “need” for the department lead, it is crucial that your enthusiasm for the position is apparent, because it may be your biggest asset when a department lead needs to communicate to a CEO or CFO that you hold some kind of potential worth pursuing.
4: Follow up.
We all may be familiar with sitting by the phone, anxiously awaiting that phone call for a million-dollar offer you cannot refuse. However, if that phone call does not happen to come your way, take a deep breath and realize that it might not be your fault. As a business professional, it is always important to follow up with the department lead and be ready to accept constructive criticism. It is more likely than not that you’ll pursue many career options in the future, so if you feel it is appropriate, feel confident asking the department lead what you did right and what you can correct for next time. Be sure to thank that department lead for taking the time to explore the options with you and express that you would like to be considered in the future if a different opportunity presents itself. This type of enthusiasm and politeness will keep you at the top-of-mind awareness that may be your golden ticket for future openings. Your continued online interaction with the company will encourage further consideration as well, so never limit yourself to one dream job description–be ready to be marketable in any way you can.
Success lies in those who do not wait for opportunity, but in those that take it!
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