Thursday, 10 March 2011

Getting Serious About Facebook

I spoke to forensics students at Leeds Metropolitan University on Friday.

As readers of this blog will know, I spend a lot of time in Leeds watching silky, Brazilian football at Elland Road, but it was my first visit to Leeds Met and I had a great time!  The students were keen, the campus was amazing and the two lecturers, Maurice Calvert and Emlyn Butterfield were outstanding – I can only see this course grow in reputation.   

The University Marketing Team were also very switched on filming parts of my lecture and then spending a good 45 minutes afterwards interviewing me about my background and what I hoped I had been able to bring to the students via my talk.  Overall, I was very impressed.

During the talk, I was again surprised at just how few students utilised social media as part of their job search strategy.   Very few had LinkedIn profiles, a twitter account or had considered using Facebook as a serious recruitment tool.  As regular readers of this blog will know, I think it is absolutely vital to develop a personal brand via social media. Students have the very best opportunity to do so as their online profile is less developed than those later in their careers and so easy to manipulate.

The attitude towards Facebook always confuses me.  The view I usually hear is that Facebook is more about staying in contact with friends and family than a serious business tool.  I can't agree. If that is what you think then consider this:
  • The majority of people who find new jobs - over 50% - find these positions via referral.  In some countries this figure is much higher - such as Sweden where it is more like 70% - and in tight communities such as forensics/edisclosure I would suggest that the figure is probably over 70%;
  • People like to refer people they know;
  • Facebook is the largest social network available so this is your best chance of getting referrals;
In practical terms, this means that your status must show you are looking for a new role.  Update this status fairly regularly (emphasis on the word ‘fairly’) to keep potential referrers up to date with your progress.  Although it doesn’t come easy to a lot of us, ask for referrals.
    On top of your personal referrals, every organisation that understands the possibilities offered by social media (and even in my markets this is growing daily) has a presence on Facebook.  Many recruiters are also searching Facebook on a daily basis looking for people with your skills/experience.  Make it easy to be found!

    For advice on how to effectively utilise Facebook, I suggest you read the following article from Texas-based Social Recruiting expert Craig Fisher:

    I spent three days with Craig at a conference a few weeks ago and believe me when I say this guy is a true expert on social recruitment strategies.  If you only follow one piece of his advice I would suggest it is the following about Facebook apps which will give you a massive edge over your competition:

    "You should definitely be using Branchout.  This is a Facebook app that utilizes the employer data on your info page to populate a social graph of business connections.  It tells you who in your Facebook network you know at which companies.  It also gives you the option to import your LinkedIn profile for deeper networking. You should also import your blog posts into your Facebook profile.  There are many apps that do this.  If you don't already have a blog, you can actually start one by using the notes section of your FB profile.  Write about your area of expertise and let your FB friends know you are knowledgeable in your field."

    The first rule of job searching is to make people know you are available.  Facebook gives you access to a huge number of people. The second rule is to make people like you as we hire people we like.  Facebook gives you the opportunity to do this.

    If you are serious about your job search I would ask whether you can you afford not to be utilising Facebook as part of your strategy? 

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