avoiding TMC1Hiring managers want to bring in someone they’ll get along with, someone who seems a bit like them and someone with whom they’d want to spend time. Therefore, in addition to selling your background and your understanding of the company, you need to sell yourself as a likeable candidate. One of the fastest ways to end up in the slush pile is to badger the hiring manager on social media.

Using social media to find a job and to connect with someone who has pull at your target company is smart strategy. However, too much contact (TMC) coupled with too much information (TMI) could kill your chances of getting hired. No one likes a stalker, no matter how well qualified the person is for the job. Some common sense rules can help you walk the line between enthusiastic and creepy.

Profile of a Social Media Stalker

Criminologists define stalking as “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment or contact directed at a specific person.” To gauge whether you’re a social media stalker, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you communicate excessively with the hiring manager? Do you tweet, comment on Facebook posts or send LinkedIn messages daily or several times per day? If so, you’re overdoing it.
  • How many “thank you” tweets have you sent? One “thank you” is usually enough. If you keep on posting “thank you” messages on the person’s or company’s Facebook wall, tweeting compliments or adding LinkedIn endorsements to the person’s profile, you might be closer to “restraining order” than “hireable.”
  • Are you lurking online to interact with the person? If you’ve set up your Twitter account to alert you when the person makes a tweet, if you try to start a Twitter chat every time the person gets online or if you send DMs about everything the person shares, then you’ve crossed the line into “creepy.”

These questions aren’t meant to poke fun at a serious crime. According to The National Center for the Victims of Crime, 6.6 million Americans are stalked each year (if you’re interested in exploring the criminal mind, check out this MS in Criminology program). However, you don’t have to threaten violence or actually engage in stalking to fail the “likeability” test. Remember that hiring managers often network with likeminded people from other companies, so other companies’ hiring managers might notice your annoying social media ways. You could end up missing out on not only this job but also on future jobs with other businesses.

What’s the Right Amount of Social Media Contact?

Avoiding TMC3Finding the right balance of social media interaction with a hiring manager is similar to deciding how much interest to show in a date. Too much might make you look desperate, but too little might make the person decide you aren’t interested. Follow these general rules when using social media for your job search:

  • Use the “Rule of Three.” Send a “thank you” tweet or message after any phone or in-person interviews. After that, check in a maximum of three times, and avoid checking in more than once every three weeks.
  • Keep likeability at the forefront. Your contact at the company might navigate over to your feed to learn more about you, so shelve your controversial political opinions for another time. Also, nix the over-sharing about your relationship problems or about that mysterious rash you’ve been experiencing.
  • Treat everyone like they’re important. In addition to having good social boundaries with the hiring influencer, treat everyone from the company as though you were interacting with the CEO. If you’re rude or unfriendly to the “little guy,” your behavior won’t endear you to the hiring manager.
  • Know when to fold ‘em. If you’ve check in three times and you’ve heard nothing back, then it’s time to let go of this particular opportunity. A better opening usually comes along, so sit back and be ready when it happens.

Using social media for the job search takes practice, and you might make some gaffes along the way. If you stay polite, avoid over-sharing and give the other person room to breathe, you’ll have a better shot at landing your dream job.