Using social media to find a job - Is it viable?

As technology continues to evolve, it becomes part of every facet of our lives – including our careers. With the growth in online job portals and apps, it is no surprise that job seekers are now turning to social media platforms - like LinkedIn – to find employment.

The most popular site for job seekers is LinkedIn. According to Internet World Stats on LinkedIn, (2015) cumulatively, Africa has over 22 million LinkedIn subscribers, with South Africa having the largest number of LinkedIn accounts on the continent and the highest penetration at over 9%.

Lyndy van den Barselaar, Managing Director of Workforce Solutions Manpower South Africa explains, “online platforms have changed the recruitment industry by providing platforms for job seekers to create and store virtual CV’s, and for employers to easily search for the skills and experience they are looking for. Essentially, technology has simplified the process, by making it easier for each party to find what they are looking for and opening lines of communication.”

“However, it is important that these sites are used correctly, in order for job seekers to have the best chance of finding employment,” she explains. Lyndy provides the following tips for those looking to find employment through online portals and social networks:

1. Remember to remain professional

Completing tasks online can often make people forget their professionalism. Ensure that you use full sentences and avoid any text speak; ensure that your CV and any supporting documents are up-to-date and polished; and attach files in PDF format wherever possible, as this is a universal format and most employers will be able to open and view the attachment.

“Keep profiles professional too. Use correct spelling and grammar; talk about your skills, experience and accomplishments; and be sure to use a professional photo – a group photo or a photo of you holding a cocktail on the beach is not ideal for job searching,” explains van den Barselaar.

2. Don’t focus on the job title

Some companies may have a different name for what you do, or may be looking for someone with your skills and experience for a different position. Where possible, search with keywords connected to your skills and experience, rather than your job title.

3. Be specific

Using a spray and pray approach, and applying to several jobs a day may feel productive, but can be counterproductive to your career growth. “Focus on applying for jobs that match your skillset, experience and interest. It is a waste of your time and the employers time if you apply for something and later find out you do not have the necessary skills they were looking for, or are not interested in the position,” explains van den Barselaar.

If several positions are open at one company, apply for one rather than all of them, Receiving your CV for several job roles might make the employer believe you are not specific or focused in your career search. Rather include some information about your skills that may make you an asset in several positions or departments, and let the employer decide.

4. Get personal

Employers who make use of online job platforms may receive hundreds of applications per day. Where possible, personalise your application – be it with a cover letter or a personalised CV. “If you stand out from the crowd, you’re likely to be remembered,” says van den Barselaar.

5. Have an online presence

Applying for a job through an online portal and then not having a LinkedIn profile, for example, could be detrimental to your job search. Recruiters and employers in the modern business environment expect professionals to have an online presence, be it with LinkedIn, ZoomInfo or your own blog. Make sure you have a professional online presence, and keep it up to date.

6. Don’t get stuck online

Follow up on jobs you are interested in, and have applied for, by calling. Not only will this demonstrate that you are interested in the position, but will also present a chance for you to exercise and demonstrate your professionalism.