“What’s your brand? Who are you? Where do you want to go?” LinkedIn expert Anne Pryor recommends asking yourself questions like these as you compose your profile on the site. With 500 million users, LinkedIn is a place where you can see job openings and employers can find you. Here are more tips from Pryor.
• While you’re tinkering with the wording of your profile, go to the privacy settings. Under “sharing profile edits,” click “no,” so your connections aren’t blasted with notifications every time you tweak a few words.
• Compose your profile using keywords that optimize your chances of coming up in recruiters’ searches. Keywords echo wording in descriptions of jobs that match your skills. The most key of the keywords should go closest to the top.
• If you’re not currently employed, create a “placeholder” position — a hypothetical résumé listing with a title and job duties that fit your background and skills — so you’ll pop up in search engines. Using a title listed in the dropdown box will push your profile higher when recruiters search for that title.
• Connect with LinkedIn users you know in real life, as well as people with whom you share a company, a profession, an interest or a school, influential people in your industry, and people whose work you admire. Connecting directly with recruiters will help you pop up higher in their networks. When you connect, add a personal message.
• Follow companies in your industry or that have qualities you value, such as nonprofit status, emphasis on work-life balance or a listing among the Star Tribune’s Top Workplaces.
• When companies or people you admire post articles, “like” it or post a comment adding an insight or perhaps a link to related work of your own.
• Interact with others in positive ways. LinkedIn lets you “endorse” people’s skills, such as art direction or fundraising. Endorsements may prompt them to return the favor. You can also write recommendations of people you have worked with, listing their most important characteristics.
• If you’re interested in a specific company, contact one of your connections who works there, or find an employee with whom you have something in common, such as alma mater. Contact the person to politely ask more about the job or to request a referral. Many companies offer employees bonuses for successful referrals.
• Paying for LinkedIn Premium may be worth it when you’re hunting for a job. It will help you come up higher in searches, reveal who has looked at your profile, give you salary information, show how many people have applied for a position and let you send messages to people with whom you aren’t (yet) connected.
“Facebook is a great research tool” for job seekers, said Jennifer Radke, CEO of the New Hope-based National Institute for Social Media. It might not be the place to look for job openings (some companies post them, but many do not). But with 2 billion active users, it’s a great place to get to know people and let others hear about you and your work. Here are some of Radke’s suggestions:
• Make sure your posts on Facebook align with the way you want to be seen publicly and professionally.
• “Like” companies’ pages to keep track of new developments and get a better feeling for their cultures. Do they give back to the community? Do they highlight employees’ accomplishments? Do they value work-family balance?
• Join Facebook groups organized for professionals in your field. Group members post information about industries and businesses — sometimes including job opportunities — as well as professional opinions and expertise, often from highly accomplished people or people in positions to hire or refer candidates. Groups let you converse with people who aren’t your Facebook friends, but might eventually become friends.
• Be careful about expressing political opinions if you work in an industry where they might be controversial. If you weigh in on hot topics, be respectful and articulate and add value to the conversation.
• Don’t dismiss the “friends and family” aspect of Facebook as an employment resource. Most jobs are still obtained through referrals, so tell members of your network what kind of work you’re looking for, in case they hear of opportunities. You can post the information on your page or, to keep your search more low-profile, you can contact people you know privately via the Messenger tool.
“Twitter, for job seekers, is a really cool tool,” Radke said. Twitter has 69 million active users in the United States. And unless they have made their Twitter account private (which is rare), you can see tweets by anyone from your next-door neighbor to, well, the president of the United States.
• Follow people and organizations whose tweets interest, amuse or inspire you. They’ll see that you’ve followed them and often will follow you back, expanding your sphere of influence.
• When you see a tweet you like, retweet it, preferably adding a comment of your own, grabbing the attention of the original tweeter and helping both of you spread your message more widely.
• Engage in dialogue with others in your industry by responding to their tweets or offering additional insights or links.
• If you tweet a link to an article, tag the author and/or subject of the piece. Again, it’s nice to add a thoughtful comment, which can often prompt a back-and-forth conversation or even lead to an ongoing relationship.
• Attend Twitter chats. You can follow and join public conversations based on hashtagged topics ranging from leisure pursuits to specific business and industry discussions. Retweet insightful comments from the chat. Tweet Reports is one place to find a list of upcoming chat topics. If you can’t participate while the chats are live, you can still read the tweets later and retweet those you like.
• With Twitter Lists, you can collect and organize Twitter accounts you find particularly informative or influential, divided by topics. The lists track the latest tweets by people on them, letting you narrow your feed to comments from people you want to see at the moment. You can set your lists as public or private, but if you set it public, the person or organization will see that you’ve added them to the list and most likely feel flattered. You also can subscribe to other Twitter users’ public lists, expanding your knowledge of influential people.
Instagram, Pinterest & others
Other social platforms offer opportunities to see recent work by people you admire, share your own projects, or show off your interests and tastes. Visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are especially, though not exclusively, useful for professionals in visual fields — designers, photographers and so on. Even YouTube can be a good place to promote your work and build your online profile. After all, it’s where Justin Bieber got his start.