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Using social media to find a job

Using social media in a job search is often recommended, but how effective is this really? And what are the do’s and don’ts when using social media to find a job?

There are two main ways in which networking on social media sites can have an influence on your job search. The first is by maintaining and expanding your existing network. This is important because in Europe around 50% of the job openings in industry, and 70% of the job openings in academia, are filled by networking. The second way is by giving you an edge over other candidates (or putting you at a disadvantage), if your potential employer does a background check on social media.

Maintain your existing network via social media

Just like in face to face networking, with social media networking it is important to keep in contact with acquaintances and letting them know you are interested in what they do, for example, by congratulating them on new positions or finished projects. This is much easier to do via social media than in real life, so this would be a good use of social media sites.

Expand your network with social media

Apart from being used for keeping in touch with existing contacts social media are also often used for getting into contact with new people. An advantage of social media is that you can more easily use the networks of your acquaintances. This is especially the case for LinkedIn and Facebook where you can ask to be introduced by an acquaintance, if you see that someone in their network works at a company you would like to work at. In real life it would be almost impossible to keep track of where all the contacts of the people in your network work. This can really help you to get in touch with decision makers if you wish to send an open application.

On the other hand, using social media to come into contact with completely new people with whom you have no connection is much less effective. A worldwide survey amongst 60,000 employers held by the Manpower group, indicated that only 4% of the job openings were filled by approaching previously unknown people that are unrelated to your existing network via social media. There is no harm in trying this approach, but the chances of succeeding this way are slim.

Stand out positively if an employer does a background check

Make sure you can be found and that your social media profiles look as representative as possible. In a study conducted by CareerBuilder amongst 2300 hiring managers, 40% indicated that they screened the social media profiles of candidates. In around 1/3 of these screenings they found negative data, such as someone drinking, that caused them not to hire the applicant while they were initially inclined to do so. Furthermore, in another 1/3 of these searches they found that an extensive and professionally looking social media profile tipped the balance in favour of that candidate and led to the applicant being hired. The most important thing employers are looking for in a profile is an extensive network, recommendations and having samples of your work online so that they can see the quality of your work firsthand. Furthermore, providing a succinct and catchy summary about yourself will help employers to get an impression of who you are as a person. Besides having a strong and professional profile it is also important that you are found by employers.

This can be done by the following:

• Customising the link of your profile

• Selecting an industry (on sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook)

• Joining sector related groups and participating actively in them

• Following companies you are interested in on social media sites

• Viewing the profiles of decision makers at companies you want to work with on LinkedIn. They will often see this, and if they are impressed with your profile they might offer you a job.

• Posting on the walls of acquaintances working for companies you want to be noticed by

• Posting often yourself

Make sure no negative things about you show up online

Most people are probably aware that they should put their privacy settings as high as possible to avoid unprofessional photos and other items becoming public. However, even if you make sure your own settings are adjusted this way, your posts in groups, photos and events made by other people can still be visible. Around 50% of the hiring managers interviewed by the Manpower Group mentioned that pictures of people drinking, using drugs, or engaging in other provocative behavior were sufficient reason for them to not hire a candidate. Therefore, do a thorough Google background search of yourself, clean up your social media profiles and ask others to take down sensitive information about you before you apply for a job.

Furthermore, besides having incriminating things about yourself online, having outdated or unprofessional looking profiles will put you in a bad light. It is especially harmful to your application if the information online conflicts with the CV you send in.


Social media networking is not a magic bullet which will turn the job searching market inside out. Nevertheless, a bad social media profile might ruin your chances of getting the job, and a good one might tip the scales in your favor. Furthermore, social media networking does increase the effectiveness of your face-to-face networking. Thus, it is best to use it as a tool, instead of fully relying on this method to find a new job.


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