Kevin Mueller was in his last semester at Miami University in Ohio and he hadn’t yet landed a post-graduation job. So he jumped when his marketing professor posted a status update on Facebook with a link to a job opening at Launchsquad, a public relations firm in San Francisco. Mueller, 23, responded to the post, which led him to connect with Miami University alumna Kristen Hay, a senior account executive at Launchsquad, who hired him.
All of our job searches should be so easy. But as social networking matures, stories like Mueller’s are increasingly common. Still, until I saw research from a company called Jobvite, I thought most job seekers were using LinkedIn, not Facebook, to find work. But according to a survey released today, 67% of people looking for a job say they use Facebook in their social media search, compared to just 40% who use LinkedIn. Some 40% use Twitter. Jobvite also surveyed recruiters, 94% of whom use LinkedIn, while 66% use Facebook, 52% use Twitter and 21% use Google+. Some 73% of recruiters say they have used some form of social media to hire staff.
Jobvite cares about such numbers because it sells software that enables companies to identify and source job candidates through their employees’ social networks. To compile the data, Jobvite ran two surveys. In August it surveyed 1,900 recruiting and human resources professionals and in December it polled 2,100 people who were working or looking for work.
I find the Facebook stats striking. While I’ve written more than a half dozen articles about using LinkedIn to find a job, I had never focused on Facebook as a job search tool. But with 1.39 billion monthly users, Facebook is more than four times the size of LinkedIn, which has 332 million members. For that reason alone, job seekers should tap Facebook’s professional networking power. For advice on how to do that, I turned to Dan Finnigan, 52, the CEO of eight-year-old Jobvite. Finnigan helped me hone these four ways you can use Facebook to find a job.
1. Fill out your profile with your professional history. I think of LinkedIn as the place where my online résumé resides, since the profile page is laid out like a C.V., with slots for a summary of your professional life, your list of jobs and your academic credentials. Unlike Facebook, it doesn’t invite you to add stuff not directly relevant to your job history, like your favorite movies, TV shows, books and music. But Facebook has an elegant, easy way to add your work credentials. Just click on “About.” Then on the left hand side of the screen, click on “Work and Education.” There you can list not only your current but your past employers, your job title, a description of your role and the years you were with the organization. If you want to make yourself known to all of those recruiters who troll for job candidates on Facebook, take a few minutes to fill out this information. You can even cut and paste from your LinkedIn profile, though I’d suggest more abbreviated prose for Facebook.
2. Classify your professional friends. This can seem like a labor-intensive task but Finnigan says it’s worth it. Go to your list of friends and for each person, click on the rectangle that says “Friends.” Then from the pull-down menu, select “Add to another list.” Finnigan says you should select the word “Professional” for people you know through work. Then when you write a status update, in the box to the left of the word “Post,” where the default is the word “Friends,” use the pull-down menu and select “Professional.” This way, you can target your work-related status updates.
While it’s good to humanize yourself by sharing bits of your personal life with professional contacts—Finnigan says he’s posted pictures of his dog and gotten lots of likes—you may not want to share with everyone that pic of yourself in your bathing suit, frolicking on a Mexican beach.
3. Post content and respond to other people’s postings. Aside from pooch photos, Finnigan posts updates about his company’s accomplishments, related news in the world of job search and links to media interviews (he’ll likely post a link to this article). He also shares personal news about his kids. When he posts these updates to his professional community, he’s doing the virtual equivalent of checking in with people about his personal life. I’m still an advocate of face-to-face meetings, but I also see the value in online contact. Do pay attention to your professional friends’ postings. “Like” their updates and make insightful comments. “People want to help people they like and they want to help people who help them,” says Finnigan. “When it comes to job seekers, you want to reciprocate by offering them a job.”
4. Find networking connections. Again, this was a function I associated only with LinkedIn, with its immediate listing of first- and second-degree connections to a company once you type a company name in the search bar at the top of the page. But Facebook has a similar function that most of us don’t use. In the search bar, type “people who work at,” and the name of the company. It should call up two people you know who work there. Then click on “see more,” and see your other friends who work there, plus a roster of other people on Facebook who work at the company. You’ll have to click through each person to see whether you have mutual friends. But this information is networking gold. It’s not full-proof. I tried “people who work at the New York Times” and Facebook pulled up two journalist friends of mine, one of whom works at Forbes and the other at Bloomberg. But “see more” got me three friends who indeed work at the Times and then long list of others who work there, with whom I have as many as 18 mutual friends. This information is all networking gold.
According to Jobvite’s survey, the majority of you are already using Facebook in some manner as a job search tool, probably the way Kevin Mueller does, to look out for openings that your friends post. Maybe you check out company pages when doing research on an organization where you’d like to work (you should). But I’m hoping these tips will help you maximize Facebook’s potential to advance your career. If for no other reason, consider Facebook’s size.
This is an update of a story that ran previously.