Jobseeking & Social Media – An Interview with Miranda Bishop

( Post 7 of 25 )

We all know that how you present yourself on social media can be extremely important on the jobseeking front – either working for you or even against you, depending on what you show (whether by accident or on purpose). However I wanted to delve a little deeper into subject: discussing how social media use can help you on the jobseeking front, what tools you can use to help you to scout for jobs, and so on. So we asked Miranda Bishop – a Cardiff-based social media consultant – a few questions on the subject…

Talking Social Media logoHi Miranda, please introduce yourself! What do you do?

Hi I’m Miranda Bishop from Talking Social Media and I’m a Trainer, Speaker and Consultant on Social Media for Marketing, Communications and Sales. I also help manage client accounts as well as a few side-projects – the largest being Ignite Cardiff, which is a fantastic local speaking event. People take to our stage for 5 minutes to share their personal passions with the audience. To add some jeopardy, the slides also auto-advance every 15 seconds so you’ve got to keep up!

Miranda Bishop photoHow has social media advanced over the years from your perspective?

When I first using social media, it was on platforms like Myspace or Bebo, it was in university or before that in college or school. So since then the whole concept and idea of social media has developed from this niche very teenage audience into Facebook and Twitter being far more accessible and such a huge global phenomenon. Older generations are now the largest growing demographics on these platforms and each is far easier to use and more constantly involved with people’s lives due to the advent of smartphones. Most recently the biggest shift in social media has been from floating them on the stock market, leading to mass monetisation of the major platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

What are some of the biggest faux pas you’ve seen or heard about from jobseekers using social media badly, or in a way that might jeopardise their career chances?

Oversharing on social media is usually one of the major mistakes people make, both professionally and personally! Nothing could be worse than too much information (or sensitive information) about an ex-employer to put off prospective new employers or land you with a big breach in any confidentiality or social media policies. This viral story about a young woman quitting her job on a series of white board notes is a great example although some are claiming it was a publicity stunt:

What about people who use social media in both a personal and professional capacity at the same time? For example, I’m personal guilty of this – over on @steviephil I talk about work but I also talk about more personal things (e.g. my music tastes), and I was once called “unprofessional” by someone in regards to the way that I tweet. Do you have any advice for other people in my situation?

A good rule of thumb with social media is that if you wouldn’t say it very loudly in a room full of people who you’ve never met before, don’t put it online.

Sure, social media can be a great way to get to know the people behind the company, you can start building rapport through mutual interests just like in real life. However there’s usually a tipping point, and again it’s about ‘overshare.’ A good rule of thumb with social media is that if you wouldn’t say it very loudly in a room full of people who you’ve never met before, don’t put it online. Subjects to avoid when you use social media in a dual capacity would be any highly personal relationships or arguments – your clients probably don’t want to hear about your messy divorce or perhaps any ill-thought-out opinions about politics that they might disagree with. However, you can still use social media with freedom of speech either by separating out work from play or checking any privacy settings so that certain sections of your audience can’t see information you don’t wish them to whilst still remaining connected. Facebook and Google+ both have this functionality although on G+ it’s a little more straight-forward to use.

That said, social media can also be effective in the job front. Do you think that it could be effective in engaging with companies that you’re hoping to get noticed by?

Definitely, but that being said I wouldn’t necessarily go and hound them on Twitter to beg for work. Personally if I was job hunting I’d play by those traditional rules that in-house recruiters go through: CVs, cover letters, etc. But being well-informed about the company at the interview stage can really play in your favour. Take a look at a company’s updates, tweets and blogs to see what’s important to them. LinkedIn also make most of their profit through recruiters, so make sure your profile is up-to-date and has loads of relevant keywords in it in order to appeal to their searches.

Do you think that there is any weight in contributing to online communities (e.g. Facebook groups that discuss business, such as the Cardiff Start group) in getting your name out there?

Of course. The more people who know you for the right reasons, the better – just be sure to test your Facebook privacy settings if there’s anything that you might not want prospective employers to see. It’s also great to be subscribed to groups like that to hear about opportunities – I literally posted about a job that had come on to my desk there the other week which wasn’t relevant for myself but was a great opportunity for a Welsh speaker.

What’s the most effective social media channel to use when being proactive on the job search front? I think the general consensus is that it has to be LinkedIn – but should the likes of Facebook and Twitter be ruled out so easily?

LinkedIn Doodle imageLinkedIn is the most recruitment friendly – because a simple search will show recruiters all the people in an area with the right skills or experience for a role they need to fill. But you can’t expect people to just come to you if you don’t put the work into your profile. Keep it up-to-date with a good recognisable professional picture and use keywords to make your profile search-friendly.

Twitter could also be good for keeping on top of job boards, making lists or receiving notifications from certain companies that you might want to get in with.

Are there any tools or handy hacks that people can use to help them out?

I’ve actually written a free eBook on how best to update your LinkedIn profile to attract potential clients – but it works just the same for attracting recruiters or employers.

It’s downloadable here for free:

For Twitter, I would put any prospective employers into a private list and then you could set the list up to view in Hootsuite or TweetDeck – anything with a good column user interface. This will mean you can hone in on the people you want to see quickly – without being distracted by all of the other friends, companies, celebs, bands or whoever else you might happen to follow.

What’s the biggest case study / success story you’ve heard about someone landing a job mostly – or even purely – via social media?

There are loads of great stories out there about people landing jobs through social media, but I like to share my own experiences too so here are a few of mine:

  • I landed my first graduate job through seeing someone looking for a PA on Facebook – this then turned into marketing and social media account management work.
  • I got my first big freelance client through them approaching me on LinkedIn – this was enough to let me go freelance full-time and give up my job.
  • I got a call last week from a company looking for a Marketing and Comms Manager for their Wales office. Their HR team had found me through Twitter and – had I been looking for a new job or a Welsh speaker – I would have bitten their hand off for an interview no questions asked.

What about companies? Are there things that companies could be doing differently on the social media front in order to help attract the right talent?

Simply making sure that each of their vacancies is shared on social media is a big step for a lot of companies. It’s a good idea to take a look at industry- or location-specific hashtags to include here too. Posting about your new happy smiling employees also gives a really nice friendly vibe and feels like you really value your staff. Another idea is to headhunt candidates straight from LinkedIn too due to the great search capabilities.

Do you think that jobseekers are much more savvy now on the social media front (both in terms of being careful how they present themselves and with engaging with companies), or do you think we’re still a long way to go?

I think jobseekers are still a very mixed bag – if you ask most people if they know how to present themselves well online to prospective employers, they’d probably say yes. But if you actually went and looked at their Twitter or Facebook you could probably find some evidence to the contrary!

Facebook privacy settings screenshot
What advice would you give to a jobseeker who’s new to Twitter and LinkedIn and who’s hoping that they’ll help them on the job front?

I’d say use them to listen first and then converse accordingly. The benefits of what you can learn from the social media accounts of other people or companies are massive, use them to learn your subjects and then ask insightful, interesting questions and start engaging.

Lastly, what’s your favourite thing about South Wales – business/tech-related or not?

In business terms I adore being Cardiff-based because there’s a really wonderful and close-knit business community here. BBC Wales are right round the corner and I’ve been on the radio a few times recently there too. Ignite’s also a great example of an event at which you’ll bump into loads of people that you know, and plenty that you will get to know along the way! The setup means that it’s a wonderful shared experience and can really make you think differently – about almost anything!

On a personal level, my favourite thing about South Wales is the memorial park in Cardiff City Centre right behind City Hall and Cardiff Uni where I graduated. It’s gorgeous and gets full of blossom in the spring. Despite my job I’m actually quite big on having some non-digital time so it’s a lovely place right in the centre of the city to just switch off!

Follow Miranda and Talking Social Media on Twitter: @Miranda_Bishop and @Talking_SM.

[LinkedIn image credit – Jurgen Appelo]