Social Studies for Job Seekers
By Bob Goldman

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You've tried everything.

You've networked. You've Facebooked. You've so thoroughly linked on LinkedIn that you are only six friends away from knowing someone who knows someone who knows Beyonce. And yet, you still can't get a job. Heck, you can't get an interview!

Lately, you've been asking yourself -- is there something wrong with me? The answer is yes, but it's not your rancid personality, or your reputation for incompetence, or the fact that the only person who will write a reference for you signs it "Mom."

Dude, it's your social media skills. Or lack thereof.

So says Deanna Hartley, who recently penned a post on CareerBuilder titled, "Creative Ways to Get Noticed by Employers on Social Media."

No social media slacker herself, Hartley gets right to the point:

"Some savvy job seekers are leveraging social media to their benefit to catch the attention of potential employers, and you can follow suit with these tips."

You like tips, right? Well, here comes a passel of them:

  • "Update your social media profile."

    As Hartley explains, "whether you like it or not, social media is an extension of your personal brand."

    Yes, you are a brand. It's a heavily discontinued brand, most likely found at a 99-cent store, but it's a brand, all the same.

    The nature of your brand is revealed online. According to Hartley, "60 percent of employers are peeking into candidates' social media profiles." This means you must "add skills and/or recommendations to your professional social media profile."

    We know your problem with recommendations and skills. You have neither. That means you'll have to use your imagination to add faux skills that will improve the perception of your brand. Like the fact that you have outstanding collaboration skills due to your years as lead dancer at the Bolshoi Ballet.

    Total nonsense, true, but the HR people at the companies you have targeted are so busy gussying up their own media profiles, they'll never check.
  • "Use multimedia to supplement your resume."

    You've rewritten your resume to make it hard-hitting and concise, and it now fits on the back of a postage stamp. Unfortunately, words and paper are no longer enough. You need pixels, pal, and plenty of them.

    "Consider creating an online portfolio of your work," Hartley writes, "showing videos that show off your skills."

    This is where knowing someone who knows someone who knows Beyonce could come in very handy, but if Sasha Fierce can't help you, go ahead and produce a music video on your own. To show potential employers that you are not influenced by frivolous fads (yes, Bodega Bamz, I'm talking about you,) I suggest you go with a classic genre, like disco. Imagine the job-seeking punch of a 20-minute YouTube video of you dancing in wild abandon to Baccara's classic hit, "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie."

    Your video may not go viral, but no employer can resist a good "Yes Sir."
  • "Start interacting with corporate social accounts."

    It's not only job seekers who game social media; employers do it, too. You may not be able to get a call back from a hiring manager, but you can get on the company's Facebook page and make your presence known.

    Hartley recommends you "do so only if you have legitimate feedback/opinions or something constructive to add to the conversation."

    In other words, a Facebook comment like, "You're a bunch of stupid idiots" is probably not constructive, though it certainly may be true. An example of more legitimate feedback would be, "You're a bunch of stupid idiots. That's why I'll feel right at home when you hire me."
  • "Personalize conversations." Use what you can find out about a company through their social media efforts to personalize your own job quest. Just be careful! As Deanna Hartley writes, "keep in mind there's a line between being diligent (scouring for professional insights) and creepy (looking to see how many children they have,) so don't cross it."

    Absolutely true, but if you can't cross the line, no one will fault you for putting a pinky toe across it. So, Google until you drop. You're sure to discover that the super-macho, take-no-prisoners CEO has a secret passion for crocheting, or the super-rich, 30-something tech wizard uses his time in his private 747 to work on his stamp collection.

    Threatening to reveal these secrets is not very nice, but you'll have to agree -- it sure is personal. And if it doesn't work, you can always go back to the Bolshoi.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.