Even if you would like to avoid social media, when you’re a job seeker you should reconsider those thoughts. That doesn’t mean you need to start recording TikTok videos. But, social media is fast becoming one of the more popular and effective ways to find a job.
However, a successful job search using social media doesn’t mean throwing up a few profiles and leaving it that. To effectively leverage social media, you need to use it. And, like a lot of other job search techniques, there are right ways and wrong ways to use it—especially when you’re an older job seeker.
Why Use Social Media for Your Job Search?
As early as 2016, 84% of companies were already using social media to recruit and source new candidates. And, an additional 9% of companies were planning on incorporating social media into their recruitment strategies sometime in the next year.
Those statistics suggest that if you’re not using social media as a valuable touchpoint, you may be missing out.
Even if you’re not actively looking for a job, a social media presence helps you professionally. You can connect and interact with people in your industry, and share or get advice on your field. And, thanks to search functions, recruiters might be looking for candidates with your skillset.
How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search
Using social media in your job search doesn’t mean creating a profile on every platform and sitting back while the job offers roll in. To help make your job search on social media successful, you’re going to have to be an active user on the platform, too.
When you use social media for a job search, make sure you connect with industry-specific thought leaders. Mainly this means brands, but it can also be specific people in your industry. For example, if there’s a well-known guru in your field, follow that person and, on occasion, share their posts with a comment of why you’re sharing it and how you think it will benefit your followers.
A dead account doesn’t do much for anybody. While it may be your real profile, if there’s no recent activity (or none at all), recruiters might ignore your account.
Use your account regularly during your job search. That means liking and following industry brands and leaders in your field. But, it’s not enough to like and follow. You need to engage and interact with your followers, too.
Engagement, though, doesn’t mean talking about your weekend or sharing a picture of your feet at the beach. Job-seeker engagement is professional, useful, and generally not about you. Share industry-relevant content and explain what about that content you find useful. Or offer tips and advice to people who are asking for help. Be friendly and helpful, but always stay professional.
Engaging this way helps demonstrate that you’re informed and current about trends in your field. This can be especially helpful for older job seekers since some recruiters may worry about their knowledge being dated.
The Best Social Media Platforms for Older Job Seekers
There are plenty of social media platforms to choose from. But, you don’t need to be on all of them. If nothing else, it’s hard to stay active on all of them at the same time without duplicating your thoughts. Limit yourself to one or two networks and focus your professional job-seeking efforts on those.
If you’re only going to join one social media platform as a job seeker, it should be LinkedIn. You can interact with brands you want to work for, and even connect with colleagues past and present who could help you in your job search.
As an older job seeker, there will always (unfortunately) be a problem with bias and discrimination. When you send your resume, there are techniques you can use to address any concerns about your age head-on or draw attention away from it.
However, because of LinkedIn’s default display, your time at a company can be front and center.
Brie Reynolds, Career Development Manager and Coach at FlexJobs, has this advice for older job seekers using LinkedIn. “Leave older experiences off your profile, knowing you can still discuss them anytime.” Consider including only the last 10 to 15 years of work history on your LinkedIn profile (just like you might do on your resume).
However, you may want to include additional and relevant work experience as part of your overall profile. In that case, Reynolds says you should create a resume document that includes your additional experience, but don’t include dates.
You can upload this document (preferably as a .pdf file) in the About section of your profile as a resume document. Anyone visiting your profile can click the link to download and review that additional document. Don’t forget to give your document the right name, though, preferably Your First Name Your Last Name.
Twitter is also a good social media network for job seekers. Using Twitter lets you share industry-relevant content and is also a great place to connect with experts in your field. And, thanks to the direct connections, it’s also a place for you to offer help and guidance to anyone looking for it.
However, to make Twitter work for your job search, you need to keep the profile public. Otherwise, recruiters may never find you in a search or see your content if you direct them to your profile. With that in mind, make sure you keep all of your Twitter content professional and relevant.
Facebook is primarily a social network for friends and families. This doesn’t mean that brands don’t use it to source candidates. However, it’s not necessarily their number one choice, and it shouldn’t be yours, either.
A way to use Facebook in your job search would be to like and follow companies you want to work for, watch for their postings, and get a feel for their company culture and work environment.
While using Instagram for your job search, does have its benefits, this is another social media profile you could skip to devote more time to LinkedIn and Twitter if need be (depending on your career field). If you do choose to set up a professional Instagram profile, you’ll definitely find companies that use Instagram for recruiting. And many employers set up Instagram profiles dedicated to their hiring, which can give you insight into the company culture and open jobs. Look into searchable hashtags, such as #jobsearch and #hiringnow to uncover new companies and roles.
What Not to Do on Social Media
Whether you’re brand new to social media or have been an active user for years, mistakes happen. And while a mistake can cost anyone of any age a job, the mistakes that older job seekers make (especially on social media) aren’t always obvious and sometimes don’t even feel like mistakes.
Watch Your Language
While you might not have a birth date listed and you never talk about your age, what you talk about could give away your older job seeker status.
Are you excited about your upcoming 30-year class reunion? Did you talk about the “grandbabies” and what you guys are doing this weekend? While you don’t specifically mention how old you are, the fact that you’re 30 years out of college makes it easy to figure out you’re not a recent college graduate.
While you’re at it, are you complaining about aging without mention your age? Are you griping with younger generations and their values? This can be a red flag.
A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words
Some pictures are more conducive to a job search than others. While some social media platforms let you remove the tag yourself, in other cases, you may need to reach out to the original poster and ask them to remove the tag or mention.
Lock It Down
Of course, it may be easier for you to lock down your social media profiles instead. Set any profile you’re not using for your job search to private and leave it at that. This way, you can safely share all the funny cat memes you want without worrying about upsetting a recruiter who hates cats.
Time to Get Social
One last tip. All of the hard work you put into creating these social media profiles will be worthless if you don’t share them with recruiters. Make sure you include profile links on your resume.
Navigating all these newfangled job search techniques is tough. But, we’ve got plenty of advice on how to pick the right LinkedIn profile picture, how to create a fantastic LinkedIn profile at any age, and how to write an outstanding resume.
But you may want more individualized advice. Well, we’ve got that, too! Consider working with one of our career coaches. They’ve got expert advice for job seekers of every age.
Carol Cochran and Brie Reynolds contributed to this post
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
This is a version of an article that was originally published on March 26, 2012.
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Career Development Manager and a career coach and resume writer at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for remote, flexible schedule, and freelance job listings. She provides practical information and resources to help people overcome their roadblocks…Read More >
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