Virtually everybody is on Facebook these days, in fact it is almost certainly one of the greatest workplace distractions of the modern age.
But if you’re looking for work then don’t spend all day looking at funny cat memes and friends’ lunches – make use of the vast resource to help find your next job.
Conventional wisdom says that Facebook is something you hide from your employer and Linkedin is the professional social network of choice.
That’s still true, but the lines are blurring. Linkedin contains a lot of dead profiles and the ‘always on’ nature of Facebook means it has real potential to help you find work.
Employee referrals have also been recognised as one of the best ways to hire new staff and we tend to know our Facebook friends much better than Linkedin connections, so smart employers are turning to Facebook for their recruitment drives.
Gap, UPS, Intel, L’Oreal, PepsiCo, and Hard Rock Café have all turned to social networks for hiring new staff and it’s a growing trend that jobseekers shouldn’t ignore.
Of course if you’re going to use Facebook as a professional tool then you’ll have to prepare for the task at hand. That will almost certainly involve ‘cleaning your profile’ and removing those incriminating pictures from your last night out that make you look like a drunken lush.
Your friends might have ‘liked’ it, a future employer might not. This is solid advice for any jobhunter, by the way, as more employers than you’d think go looking for social media profiles as a way of doing some backdoor detective work on new recruits.
Also ensure all of your personal information, like your location, is up to date. Targeted ads, an increasingly common trend, rely on this information,
Now, with a fresh and clean Facebook presence, there are a number of ways you can schmooze through the world’s biggest social network.
1. Post that you’re looking for work
Don’t sound desperate, don’t whine that you need a job or your mom is going to throw you out on the street, but simply ask if anybody knows of any jobs in your sector. If you have specific skills, mention them.
As an example, this kind of post can work wonders:
“Anybody looking for a coder with CSS/HTML/Java skills at the moment? I’ve got 5 years’ experience and am looking for a full-time position in Birmingham.”
First, if you’re friends with people in the same industry, even if you’ve never met in the real world, you might suddenly find a job opening comes your way. A few strategic private messages could also get your status shared by the ‘right’ kind of people and suddenly your message will broadcast not just to your network, but to thousands of people.
You’ll also have an endorsement, which is known in the advertising game as social proof. That is a powerful sales tool in its own right.
2. Join Groups
There are a huge number of groups for jobseekers these days, such as:
Sadly a lot of groups are heavily populated with ‘work from home opportunities’ that are poorly-disguised franchise sales pitches, but just go past them and you’ll find some useful jobs you can actually apply for.
Join industry specific jobs groups and connect with people. Post interesting news, interact with the group, comment on employment topics.
Even if you don’t get a job directly like this, your friends will see you’re actively looking for work and you might be surprised who has a useful suggestion.
That’s the power of a social network.
3. Connect with companies
Most major companies and major recruitment consultants have Facebook pages, connect with them any way you can.
Send them a message with a link to your CV on Linkedin, comment on news stories and ensure you’ve made a healthy connection.
Facebook gives the employer a chance to get to know the real you, at least the ‘you’ you want to present to them. So it’s a chance to get them emotionally invested in you and to form a stronger bond than a CV ever can. Use it.
A lot of companies advertise new vacancies on their Facebook page now, too. So if you’re already an active contributor, you’ll be in pole position when the right job comes up.
In marketing speak you are already ‘engaged with the brand’, so you’re likely to be a more eager employee.
4. Advertise yourself
You don’t need to wait to be targeted. If you have specific skills and you simply should be in work, but you’re struggling to find a match, then consider a paid post advertising your services to the recruitment industry, HR bosses and anybody you think could help.
Citibank worker Leona Chu did exactly this last year and found herself a new job, before taking out another advert to say thanks.
Her bold experiment shows that social media has flipped the whole jobseeking process on its head and active jobhunters might want to take the bull by the horns and advertise themselves.
Target your paid post carefully and it could cost less than the train fare to an interview, so it’s money well spent if you do it right.