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Katie Wagner, president of Katie Wagner Social Media, explains the importance of social media in your job search.

First, please tell me about your company and what you do.

I own a social media and digital marketing agency made up of former journalists. We help business owners get the most out of social media by either coaching them on how to use it effectively, or allowing them to outsource their social media channels to us. Most of our clients choose to outsource. Because we are journalists, we’re professional storytellers, so we specialize not only in channel management, but also in content creation (blogs, video, newsletters, press releases etc.).

How did you land there?

I was a journalist for 15 years, and loved my job. However, when social media caught on, it started changing journalism. Not as many people rushed home to see the 5pm news because they could get headlines on Facebook or Twitter, and see videos on YouTube. I was trained to use social media as a journalist, and eventually I transitioned into helping business owners use the new medium to tell the story of their business. The agency grew from there.

How would you use social media to help people land a new job or upgrade their current job?

I think the most important thing job seekers need to realize is that potential employers are going to look at your social media channels. You need to ensure that you look professional, even on your personal Facebook or Twitter account. Ideally, you would also demonstrate an expertise in your field - perhaps by writing a blog related to your industry. Job seekers should also pay special attention to their LinkedIn profiles. When someone Googles your name, your LinkedIn account will always come up first in those search results. This is your chance to appear credible to those who are checking you out. As a business owner myself, I’m always looking for someone who is actively using their profile and engaging with others in the industry. I want to see participation in groups, relevant connections and content being shared - instead of just using the profile as an online resume. Another important factor is recommendations. You should have three or four for each job you list. This adds to your credibility with future employers.

There may be other social media channels that are helpful, depending on what is popular in the industry in which you are hoping to work, but LinkedIn is the most professional channel across the board.

I love your “Social Media in 15 Minutes” blog post. Would you mind giving us a revised version tailored to job seekers?

People feel nervous about using social media because they’re intimidated or feel that it will take too much time. But, really, you can have an effective social media presence in just three steps, share valuable content, engage in conversation and be part of the community — interact with what other people are posting.

How long that takes depends on your comfort level with both industry topics and the channels themselves, but I think it’s realistic to believe you could work up to 15 minutes a session — five minutes for each step. Ideally, you would go through the steps twice a day.

Specific steps for job seekers depend on your industry, but they might look like this:

Share an article you have written (or a relevant article that you found) on your LinkedIn profile, and in some LinkedIn groups.

Respond to any comments that have been made on anything you previously posted, try to keep the conversation going.

Reach out to others. Maybe it’s commenting on other people’s posts in groups... or using the advanced search feature to connect with people who could be helpful in your job search... or sending a short note to someone you are already connected with to deepen the relationship.

Social media is really about building relationships and establishing trust and credibility. You need to show that you have something valuable to contribute, and also that you are willing to participate with others. The ‘networking’ part of social networking is by far the most valuable part for job seekers — but it doesn’t happen overnight. In just 15 minutes a day (or twice a day), you can start to build relationships with others in your industry - and that could lead to interviews, referrals or even a new position.

What are some rules, or maybe some big no-nos for using social media in the job search process?

Focus on relationship building, not selling yourself. If you come across as too self-promotional or salesy, you will turn people off. Be just as focused on what you can contribute as you are on what others can do for you. Above all, be authentic. Interacting with others on social media is no different than doing so at a mixer or networking event – you’re just typing instead of talking. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say face to face with someone you just met. 

What are some other resources you would suggest to job-seekers who want to create a strong media platform?

Establishing a strong personal brand is important. Before ever engaging on social media, for any reason, I think it’s important to understand your goals, your target audience, and the story you are trying to tell. What elements of your background or expertise are you trying to emphasize? Who would you like to know about you? Make a plan for engaging with those people and stick to it. Nothing happens overnight, but with a little time the results can be powerful.

As a side note, nothing speaks louder than original content. If it fits with your personal brand, a blog post or a video on an industry topic will demonstrate your expertise and brand yourself as a thought leader and someone who is invested in your field. That impresses employers.

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