Using social media successfully in your job search

Increasingly recruiters look directly on social networks for suitable candidates for their companies. Therefore, some rules should be followed and public profiles should be 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 prevalent in the professional environment. 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. Increasingly, recruiters are also looking directly on social networks for suitable candidates for their companies. It is very easy to contact them, and this contact is much more targeted than with normal job advert. 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 some industries, a solid presence is crucial – because even if the application is submitted by e-mail or via online recruitment, 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 having a presence?

In German-speaking countries, XING leads the business networking 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 is certain to use this US 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 lives should remain separate. So if you want to present yourself as an expert, you should have a separate account where there are no party pics or photos of cute cats.

What should your profile look like?

Profiles in business networks should always be complete and up to date. Nothing is worse than publicly presenting outdated information. After all, you wouldn't send out a resumée that didn't include your current job position, would you? The credo is: list your complete resumée, including your complete educational and career history. If you have done many brief internships or similar at the beginning of your professional life, these can be summarised – but they should not be omitted.

Another important point is intelligibility. Do not usw elevated, prosaic expression, usw clear job titles and brief descriptions of the tasks you performed in your daily work. Especially if your official job title sounds like technical jargon to outsiders, you should briefly explain what it involved.

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 personal interests. The first category is particularly important, as it lets readers know which language or software skills tyou possess. At this point, another special feature of digital information is important: the more precisely you fill out your profile and use generally understandable keywords, the greater your chance of being highlighted by the search algorithms of the platform itself or by other search engines. Therefore try to describe important skills and qualifications using standard terms rather than of company-specific terminology.

After you have presented yourself, it is now time to formulate your own wishes and ideas. What are your professional goals, what development do you envisage for your career? This can be easily adjusted regularly using a temporary status update. In addition, basic requirements for any 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 your salary expectations – usually in the form of a minimum salary or salary range.

Once you have gethered 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 free of errors and formulated appropriately for professional in question. Likewise, even in the digital era, a professional photo is crucial. 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 used inyour industry – private social media profiles are more appropriate for these artistic ventures.

Your profile is finished – now what?

Once you have your first business profile, your aren't done 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. As well as 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 resumées directly.

Unlike sending a one-time pplication, 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 your profile receives is also fed by your activities in the network itself. Both XING and LinkedIn (like 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 the site's 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 newsfeeds 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 will also demonstrate your standing in the industry and your expertise in certain fields.