Social media - a two-way dialogue
There are mixed opinions about how people should use social media in every guise. Hesitancy reigns supreme and there's no official rule book. Social media in general work best when they are two-way flows of dialogue. However, when entering the job market, regardless of sector, this approach would cause obvious issues - which are probably best avoided. One wouldn’t want to tweet; “Board director. 15yrs consumer exp. Seeks new challenge. Pls DM” – if still in employment.
The status update is normally the first thing people see on any social network site. Many will argue that this is a great way to broadcast that you are available for employment and should be used as part of the job search. However, at a senior level this does not enhance your professional standing or raise your chances - in fact there could be a negative impact on your personal ‘brand’. One key issue to remember regarding status updates is that they are very much one-way - unless you’re inviting your community to enter into a debate or comment on something you have posted.
Check your terms of engagement
There are also split opinions as to whether status updates should announce messages to social networks such as resignations, gardening leave and new appointments. The key thing should always be how social media is covered within the relevant employer organisation’s terms of engagement - your contract. Many companies still do not cover this in employment policies. However, those HR teams that do will be monitoring relevant channels around the churn of their senior staff.
Developing a corporate policy to deal with social media for employees is a difficult process but should definitely include elements to surrounding transition. Many organisations understand the power of having their senior executives active on social media - but underestimate that by being active, they are also broadcasting their top talent directly to the competition.
Get on top of your industry's developments
All forms of social networking work best when taken into the physical world. So, one efficient way to utilise status feeds whilst engaged in a job search is to post links to relevant industry events and interesting articles, third-party sites and blogs - this will bring you up within the newsfeeds of those filling senior roles. I would advise strongly to air on the side of caution and set your privacy levels to the maximum while entering into a job search and during a career move.
Get your voice heard in your community
Become active in group discussions on sites such as LinkedIn. This can dramatically help to raise your industry profile and desirability in the eyes of a potential future employer. Focus on participating in groups adn discussions that are highly active - so your opinions are seen. This not only positions you as proactive and authoritative, it shows leadership and social skills too. Chose topics of relevance, niche ideas for discussions are good as they stand out more.
One common faux-pas is setting up a blog in an attempt to secure employment. These hasty blogs lack credibility and followers. They do not add any value to your job search - in fact, this will devalue your personal credentials. Leave blogging to the bloggers and focus your energies on the quick-hit social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
Remember - it's all about sharing
It's fair to say that social media is a great starting place for anyone looking to hire. It also enables the recruiter to research target candidates before approaching them and by digesting the content of tweets one is able to spot potential new hires. There are many key indicators that a person maybe open to a change of job - for example moaning about long hours, clients, the boss etc. After all, most people decide to change jobs if and when they become unhappy or unsettled. Remember, people don’t change jobs when they love their current position.
The most important thing is that social networking, like traditional face-to-face networking, works best when communication is two-way and driven by the desire to find or share opinion. Online relationships that are balanced, considered and equal will reap huge dividends.