Using social media successfully in your job search

More and more, recruiters are looking directly on social networks for suitable candidates for their companies. Therefore, some rules should be followed and public profiles should be well maintained.
Written on 12/21/20

It is well known that social media has turned our everyday lives upside down. In recent years, however, the trend toward digital networking has also become more and more prevalent in the professional sphere. Colleagues, college friends or even cooperation partners and service providers connect online to stay up-to-date within their industry and beyond.

With all the information that employees and freelancers make publicly available, it's no wonder that recruiters and headhunters see a goldmine here. More and more, recruiters are also looking directly on social networks for suitable candidates for their companies. It is very easy to contact them, and the contact is much more targeted than with normal job postings. But business social media profiles are not only relevant for sought-after specialists and managers. Employees who are not expecting calls from headhunters can also make an impression via these digital business cards. In quite a few industries, a solid presence is basically mandatory – because even if the application is send in by e-mail or online recruiting center, recruiters like to quickly google your name to see what comes up. Therefore, some rules should be followed and public profiles should be well maintained.

Where is it worthwhile to have a presence?

In German-speaking countries, XING leads the business network market. According to its own data, 18.5 million users from Germany, Austria and Switzerland used the Hamburg-based company's offering in 2019. But the internationally oriented platform LinkedIn is catching up in Germany. Anyone on the European or American job market can't get past the U.S. company. With 660 million users worldwide – 206 million of them in Europe – LinkedIn is considered the largest social network for business contacts.

In some industries, Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram can also be used for job searches. However, one important rule applies here: private and professional matters remain separate. So if you want to present yourself as an expert, you should have a separate account where neither party shots nor cat photos appear.

What should a profile look like?

As important as it is mundane: profiles in business networks should always be kept complete and up-to-date. Nothing is worse than publicly disseminating outdated information. After all, you wouldn't send out a resume that didn't include your current job position, would you? The top credo, therefore, is: list your complete resume, including all educational stops and jobs in your professional career. If you have accumulated many small stations such as internships at the beginning of your professional life, these can be summarized – but they should not be omitted.

Another important point is intelligibility. We are not talking about an elevated, prosaic expression, but on the contrary about clear position titles and short descriptions of the tasks performed in your daily work. Especially if your official job title rather sounds like technical jargon to outsiders, you should put a lot of emphasis on an explanatory but short passage here.

Depending on the platform, there are individual sections in which you can briefly mention your skills (especially of a technical nature) and, if applicable, your private interests. The first category is particularly important, as it lets the other person know in a short list which language or software skills they can expect from you. At this point, another special feature of digital information comes into play: The more precisely you fill out your profile and feed it with generally understandable keywords, the higher your chance of being highlighted by the search algorithms of the platform itself or by search engines. So try to describe important skills and qualifications using universal words instead of company-specific terms.

After this part of presenting yourself, it is now time to formulate your own wishes and ideas. What are your professional goals, what development do you envision for your career? Often this can be easily adjusted regularly in a temporary status update. In addition, basic requirements for the future employer can usually be specified so that headhunters can directly assess whether you would be interested in the company: public institution or private sector, large corporation or medium-sized company, assignment in a specific region or nation-wide? Last but not least, you should also provide information about the desired income – usually in the form of a minimum amount or salary range.

Once you have collected all this information, all that remains is to take a final look at the layout and design: It goes without saying that all texts should be error-free and formulated in line with the professional setting. Likewise, even in digital times, value should be placed on a professional application photo. Most platforms also offer the option of adding header images or other design elements. Use these areas sparingly and continue to keep an eye on the standards of your industry – private social media profiles are more appropriate for these artistic escapades.

The profile is finished – now what?

Once you have your first business profile, your work is not over yet. It's best to use this profile to create additional presences on other platforms. This way, you can increase your visibility with little additional effort. Next to the major networks XING and LinkedIn, smaller specialized platforms can also be relevant, depending on the industry and job market. These include job portals such as actupool, which offer the option of creating resumes directly.

Unlike sending an application once, your digital business profile in a network is a living object. So make sure you keep it constantly up-to-date, even if you're not actively looking for a job. In addition, the attention for your profile is also fed by your activities in the network itself. Both XING and LinkedIn (Twitter and Facebook anyway) thrive on the interaction between their users. News feeds with status updates from users are mixed with company news and articles from editorial teams. You should also try to post interesting and relevant information for your network. This way, you will not only appear regularly in the newsfeed of potential employers and colleagues, but also prove yourself as an expert in your field.

Furthermore, you should make good use of the actual purpose of the platforms: networking with people from your industry and beyond. If you have a long contact list and are visibly connected to many colleagues, your posts will not only reach more people, but also demonstrate your standing in the industry and your expertise in certain fields.