It can be tempting to connect with prospective employers using social media.
In this virtual world, one may believe it’s harmless to tweet, extend invitations through networking sites or use other platforms to connect with companies or recruiters.
Even so, there are ways to handle this situation professionally, and experts weigh in on what’s acceptable and what may be crossing the social media protocol standards.
Use social to discover unadvertised openings
Use your social media network to let followers and connections know you are actively looking for a new position. Many job openings may only be advertised internally or posted only on a company website, not accessible to outside job seekers, says Kent Lee, CEO of Perfect Resume in Phoenix.
“In other instances, hiring managers may have job openings that they have discussed with their employees, but the jobs have not officially been advertised or posted yet. A hiring manager might tell his/her team, ‘In January we’ll be adding 2 sales representatives to the team, but, that job might not get posted officially for another month or longer,” Lee says.
“If you are tapped into your network, you can be first to apply and be ‘top of mind’ when opportunities do come up,” Lee says.
Create and maintain a LinkedIn profile that’s free of spelling and grammatical errors, is up to date and professional.
“Focus social media efforts on LinkedIn. Generally, younger job seekers spend their time on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. However, LinkedIn is far and away the most important social media site for job seekers,” Lee says.
Ask for a meeting but do it professionally
Teri Coyne, a career and leadership coach in New York, says once a job seeker does research and make connections, it’s appropriate to reach out.
Send an email to the person who would most likely head a group, asking for a meeting. “Your influencing email should reflect what you have learned about the organization, the role and even the potential hiring manager, and it should demonstrate how your experience and skills is a good match for the organization,” Coyne says.
Before an interview research the company and your interviewer
Although LinkedIn is best for making connections, Lee suggests reviewing the company’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram platforms to become more prepared for an interview.
“This can give you great insight into the topics and opinions of the company. It can also make you aware of promotions or other events that might be coming up for the company. Twitter is a great resource for this,” Lee says.
Take notice about what the company has been tweeting about for the previous 2 month to understand any trends at the company.
During an interview, Lee says to use this information to demonstrate you have done research.
“You can weave what’s been posted by the company on their social media page to demonstrate that you’ve done your research and that you are knowledgeable about some of the company’s current issues,” he says. “The point is that you want to show that you’ve done some research. This demonstrates professionalism and can give you a leg up on your competition.”
After the interview, connect again but maintain professionalism
If not already connected, Lee advises to send a LinkedIn connection request to people that you interviewed with.
“Doing this demonstrates professionalism,” Lee says, adding it’s acceptable to use LinkedIn to send a message thanking them for their time, and that you are excited about the job opportunity.
Keep tabs on your own social media sites
A job prospect is not the only one who uses social media for research. For those in a competitive job market, being proactive to maintain a professional image and secure social media settings on profiles is essential.
“Make sure your social media profiles for all other websites are set to private,” Lee says. “Be extra careful to make sure the information you post on social media is professional in nature.”