This article appeared on Forbes.com on November 18, 2013.
Thanks to Facebook’s dominance as the leading social network, combined with ways recruiters are using it to locate talent, if you’re serious about finding work, you must have a presence on this site.
There are three reasons Facebook is so essential when you’re looking for a job in today’s social media–focused world:
1. Most jobs come from referrals.
If most jobs come from referrals, and most referrals come from friends and family, guess which social network has the highest concentration of friends and family?
2. Facebook has more users than the United States has citizens.
The number of interconnections, relationships, and interactions between people in the network are infinitely complex. That presents a wonderful opportunity to meet new connections and expose your personal brand to more people to accelerate your career.
3. You can use Facebook to find out more about a company.
Just as firms can get the inside scoop on job candidates by looking at their Facebook profiles, you can discover the facts and vibe about a business by “liking” its Facebook Page. (Find out whether your target company has a Facebook Page by entering its name in the search bar at the top of your Facebook account. If a page pops up, click on its “Like” button.)
You can also research a company from its Facebook Page, using links to the firm’s blogs and websites and seeing information about its benefits and culture.
Sometimes, you can find out about job opportunities through a company’s Facebook Page, too. Many firms are now using that space to attract new talent and interact with potential candidates.
How to Get Found on Facebook
As a job seeker, you want to be found. So be sure the “About” section of your Facebook profile is complete and current; update it if it isn’t. This way, hiring managers and recruiters can learn more about you and Facebook can find new people to suggest you add to your network.
Your “About” section should serve a similar function as your LinkedIn profile summary, communicating who you are professionally and what makes you unique.
Be sure to fill out your Work and Education section as much as possible. This helps Facebook make friend suggestions for you of people you’ve crossed paths with in your career or at school. Who knows what new opportunities old friends can bring?
Don’t Be a Stranger
Your Facebook timeline is your venue for communicating with your network.
So, if you consider people in your network to be important for your job search, interact with them regularly. You could comment on their Timeline posts, include them in your Timeline posts with tags or message them.
What Not to Post
Avoid posts like, “Help! I need a job. Can you pass my résumé on?” You don’t want to come across as desperate. Remember, your goal is to provide value and be upbeat.
Instead, post articles with your opinions of them or bring up current events to kickstart conversations with members of your network.
At least once a week, post something on your Facebook timeline that’s related to your industry. Sharing your opinion about professional issues can help position you as an expert.
How to Get Referrals
Nothing’s wrong with asking your Facebook network for a little help sometimes. Because the power of your network is in who the people in it know, the best thing you can do to help yourself is to ask for introductions.
But if you want to ask your Facebook contacts for a referral, be specific. For example, don’t ask: “Does anyone have connections at a CPG company in marketing? Instead, say something like: “I’m looking for work as a business analyst at a CPG company. Do you know of anyone in marketing at Purina?” You’ll get much better results if you can say the name of the company and the exact role of the person you want to meet.
Don’t Reveal Secrets
Be careful not to reveal something you shouldn’t about the companies you’re interviewing with. For example, if you learn what your salary range might be, keep it to yourself. One woman interviewing at Cisco told her Facebook network the salary the company offered her. She was immediately disqualified for breaking Cisco’s non-disclosure policy.
How Facebook’s Graph Search Can Help
Graph Search is a way to explore Facebook’s network of information about people. It’s the technology behind the big search bar found at the top of your Facebook profile. By using search phrases, instead of keywords, you can discover all sorts of people using Facebook.
Previously, it was very difficult to know which companies were represented in your network and your extended (friends of friends) network. Now, you can see what companies you have connections to, locations you might have acquaintances in and even the brands your network prefers.