Advanced job search: Career Guide 2010

Certain guidelines need to be followed to ensure social media is used to utmost effect by both sides in the hiring equation.

Social media has impacted every facet of PR – pros doing their jobs; brands interacting with consumers; customers voicing their opinions, to name a few. This list now includes HR departments, job hunters, and recruiters. Increasingly, social media plays a major role in how hopeful PR pros learn about positions and companies, and even apply for jobs.
 
HR pros point to LinkedIn as the best social network for professional and job-seeking purposes. Jody Johnson, chief people officer for M Booth & Associates, calls it “a professional résumé.”
 
“People need to pay attention to their profiles,” she advises. “If they are seeking jobs, they need to make that known by changing the profile to say, ‘Interested in career opportunities,' or I don't go after them.”
 
Mindy Gikas, SVP of HR and recruiting for Ruder Finn, agrees, noting that HR pros search for specific criteria using these social networking sites.
 
“I counsel each job-seeker to look at their LinkedIn profile to make sure it reflects what they want it to reflect and that it is also positioned in such a way that they can be found for the types of jobs they want to find,” she adds.
   
LinkedIn is also a social network that is easy to keep professional. While Facebook has more opportunities for unflattering photos or embarrassing wall posts from friends, LinkedIn is more job-ready overall. Gikas recommends only placing information that is found in the public domain if someone were to Google you onto LinkedIn.
 
“Decide what you're using for what” when reviewing your social media presence, says Rachel Wallins, partner and director of global HR for Ketchum. By creating boundaries between their Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles, job-seekers can be transparent, but still portray themselves to fullest advantage.
 
“PR is definitely an environment where we have a lot of fun, and our teams work closely with our clients,” she adds. “But if I can find you on social media, so can our client. You don't want any pictures that could be incriminating or don't reflect you in the best light.”
 
Johnson points out that HR pros walk a fine line, being cautious not to base hiring decisions on what they see on social networks. Wallins also adds that some people on social networks may hint at or even flat-out state their religious or political influences in their profiles, which are things HR pros are trained to not ask about because it is not relevant to the job.
 
“Once you are out there, anybody can see your stuff,” Johnson cautions. “But when you're operating in the world of PR, where social media is so prevalent, you need to tone it down and be professional.”
 
However, she notes that younger employees and job-seekers are becoming more careful and smarter with their social media accounts, keeping them professional and work-appropriate.
 
But just simply networking via these types of sites can be of great assistance to job-seekers.
 
“Employee referrals at Ketchum are our number-one best source of hires, and that is only growing as networking grows,” Wallins says. An agency's Facebook page is where job-seekers can learn more about the company, and Wallins encourages job-
seekers to join groups and to “like” pages to learn more about the industry and various agencies.
 
BEYOND THE NETWORKS
Social networks are not the only digital channels would-be employees can use. Johnson also recommends VirtualCV. This site allows users to create an online résumé, which displays all relevant job content in one place and is easily shared with recruiters and passed along to other members of their team.
 
The expanding world of online recruiting and job-seeking allows HR pros to go beyond traditional means of recruiting to include targeted job boards and more generic websites, such as CraigsList.
 
“Overall, the whole advent of recruiting with social media has given me a lot more work to do,” Johnson says. “There are more candidates. There is more to see and there is more opportunity.” However, she adds, after receiving more than 525 résumés for one job posting on CraigsList, she was able to “find a star.”
 
“Yes, we will bring in more wheat and more chaff,” Wallins says, “but Ketchum is very focused on being as inclusive as possible and pulling from a broad base of experience, so we throw a pretty wide net.”
 
Agencies still use targeted job boards such as PRWeek, MediaBistro, Monster.com, and the like, as well as executive search firms. The traditional forms of recruiting still work, Johnson asserts, as they weed out unqualified people. They also complement any work done via social media, because a job posting on Facebook only goes out to people who are already fans of the agency or companies looking for the new hire.
 
“I'm not sure we've cracked the code on that,” Wallins says of closed networks where only fans and friends can see job postings on a company's page.
 
At a minimum, PR job-seekers should be familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Blogs, Johnson says, can be an added bonus that “gives us an idea of their sense of style, what they're interested in, and if they write well.”
 
Conversely Gikas states, “I don't necessarily look for blogs, unless the position I am recruiting for is a bit more advanced on the social media side.”
 
Wallins and Johnson maintain that digital and social media savvy are crucial for positions at their agencies – whether it's for a specific digital role or not.

Wallins cautions, “There is not a job in the agency now where we do not ask questions about digital savvy and social media and networking, whether it's HR or finance or client-facing roles.”


JOB HUNTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Earlier this year, Laura Gainor moved from Charlotte, NC, to Milwaukee, and used social media to look for, and eventually find, a job in her new town. After using Twitter to network with communicators and learn more about the market in Milwaukee, Gainor decided she wanted to apply for the PR and social media strategist position with Comet Branding & PR, which was posted on February 11, 2010.
   
As Gainor and her husband traveled to Milwaukee to look for a place to live, she decided to use social media to show her interest in the job. She made a poster featuring the Comet logo and then photographed herself with the poster as she traveled across the country, posting the pictures with the SquarePik iPhone application and checking in via Foursquare. She used the hashtag #LauraGainorToMilwaukee, and also notified @CometBranding of her travels via Twitter.
   
After returning from the house-hunting trip, Gainor put together a Slideshare presentation with her digital résumé, showcasing her creative talents. On February 19, Gainor had a Skype interview with Comet founders Al Krueger and Sara Meaney. Once arriving in Milwaukee for good, she had an in-person interview and was offered the job.
   
Gainor started as PR and social media strategist with Comet on March 3, and posted a blog with her full adventure on its site on March 10, just about a month after the job posting originally went up.

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