The article is written by Joe Yeager and first appeared on socialmediaclub.org.
I read many stories about social media impacting the workplace.
Most revolve around how social media impacts the employee or even the potential employee. Very little show the possible impact on the company, unless it’s to say how they use social media when recruiting or researching information about potential employees.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average length of time that an employee stays with an employer is 4.4 years.
Forbes reports that for the youngest workers, the average is less than half that number; that for Millennials (those born between 1977-1997), the average is less than three years and that they “would have 15 to 20 jobs over the course of their working lives!”
That makes it even more important for you to insist that your new employer creates an environment that is acceptable. Just as human resources managers do their homework on potential employees, you should research your future employer.
In a recent article by human resources expert Susan Healthfield, she goes one step further. Companies need to “mine the web for talent.” Acknowledging that companies can use social media to perform background checks, she says that the Society for Human Resources Management reports that 76% of companies in a recent survey either already use or plan to use social media to help recruit
I think you need to mine the web for the best places to work.
LinkedIn is a great place for companies and people to find each other. I am routinely shown information about potential new jobs when I sign onto LinkedIn. Those ads are based on criteria that have nothing to do with what kind of fit you would be in with those companies.
Here’s what you can accomplish by using social media:
- Use LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with decision-makers at potential employers.
- Join online discussion groups where you are likely to find either current or former employees at potential employers.
- Review corporate social media sites to see how they treat customers.
- Look at social media monitoring sites, such as Social Mention, Google Alerts, and paper.li to keep on top of what’s going on at companies.
- Research the C-Level staff and/or HR directors that you will meet at interviews to get a feel for them in advance.
Connecting with Decision Makers
You have an ideal opportunity to get to know the decision makers at companies that you wish to work for in the future. Even if you aren’t actively looking for a new job at the time, getting to know them and getting them to know you can make you someone that they think of when an opening occurs.
Not only can you find them using social media (the first of the five points above), but by providing solid discussion in places such as in a LinkedIn group, you can show off your talents and impress them.
Though you can get a job from classified ads, job-oriented websites, etc., there is no substitute for a personal connection with the decision maker. The higher up on the corporate ladder a position is, the more likely that it will be filled as the result of a personal connection, not because of a classified ad, no matter where it’s placed.
Avoid spreading yourself too thinly online.
You should join several groups on LinkedIn, but not too many. You need to be active enough in the groups that you can become a true thought leader, not someone who makes “drive by” postings sporadically.
When I was on the scholarship committee at West Chester University, we always looked at people that did too many extra-curricular activities in a lesser way than someone who was in fewer activities but took an active/leadership role in those groups.
See How They Treat Customers
For companies that you may not be that familiar with, using social media to help get a grasp on their corporate culture can be very helpful. I believe that this is especially true for smaller to medium-sized companies and for privately held companies. Large companies often have social media sites that are impersonal, making it a little less effective.
One example that comes to mind is Waste Management.
Their Facebook page has quite a few complaints posted on the site. The reply by the company is a boilerplate response that apologizes and asks people to send an email to a specific email address to get help.
That is what happened to my family when we had an issue with them a few years ago.
Most of the people that posted their original complaint posted again later that they did as asked, but nobody ever got in touch with them to help them. In many cases, social media was not their first attempt to get help from the company, but they probably hoped that by doing something in a public forum, that the company would be more accommodating. Many customers told stories of extremely poor customer service with what I consider an almost total lack of empathy for their customers’ problems.
To me, Waste Management does not have a corporate culture that I would appreciate. I won’t be applying for a job with them anytime soon, despite the large facility that they have not too far away from where I live.
Monitor Potential Employers
Many of you are probably already using sites such as Google Alerts or Technorati to monitor the internet for mentions of your company and possibly even your competition.
I love using paper.li to create “newspapers” on social media and some fun papers about my hobbies, such as fly fishing.
If you know some of the companies that you know you’re interested in working for, you can use the site to gather stories from the web. Just make sure that you don’t select the option to automatically send out tweets for each edition. The site archives previous editions, making it easy to review several days’ worth of stories at a time.
Research C-Level Staff
Even if you don’t connect with the decision makers from potential employers, you can observe them online and get a feel for their personality and their leadership/management styles.
Review their tweets to see how they interact with people.
Look at their LinkedIn profile and see what they do on the site.
Are they active or do they just “belong” to the site because they feel it’s expected of them?
You can get to know them so that when the interview comes, you can be sure to reference things that you learned about them from their online profile.
The End Game
By doing the same thing that many companies are doing during the employment hiring process, you can use social media to help identify potential employers that are more likely to be rewarding and make you feel fulfilled.
Sure, some of the reasons why people have such a short tenure with their jobs are because of the economy. Another reason why people leave is because they find that the company is not compatible with their personal code of conduct, ethics, etc.
You can avoid making those kinds of mistakes and find a place where you will want to stay for a long time.