Politicians say "we want you to have a job" while economists say "there aren't enough jobs." Job seekers say "what can I do to get the job" while hiring managers say "get me the best person for the job." Recruiters? We say "find the right person for the right job."
The ever-expanding world of social media is one way for all of us to get in the game, but the oft-overlooked empire of social skills is what wins the game. To form real relationships that work at work, one must successfully navigate cyberspace and office space.
Social media: A properly-worded resume is an exercise in SEO writing – the correct terminology can catapult an electronic application to the top of the virtual resume pile. Furthermore, a well-composed online profile catches the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. But will it keep our attention? Will it survive deeper digging? Anybody can have a username, send a tweet, post a status or update a profile. That doesn't make you a professional communicator any more than surfing WebMD makes someone a doctor.
Social skills: While a LinkedIn "endorsement" or Facebook "like" is nice, it doesn't mean much if you're not utilizing the potential people power behind it. I use LinkedIn and have more than 1200 followers, and I'm continuously building on it. But if I don’t provide real value and build a real relationship with those contacts, all I've accomplished is another notch on the belt. Similarly, I avoid overusing re-tweets on Twitter. The numbers might look good, but to a potential employer, the overall appearance is a person who doesn't have unique thoughts or perspective. Both of these examples demonstrate how social media can mimic social skills.
What to do:
Social media: Whether it's Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, setting up an account and then ignoring it is kind of like arranging interviews and then not showing up. Sounds crazy, right? But it happens. Just as you trim your hair and wear clean clothes to put your best self forward, regular updates on your social channels will put your best cyber-self forward.
Social skills: You might not even get the opportunity to market yourself in person if hiring managers or recruiters can't find out more about you online. We do seek candidates through social channels, but if there isn't enough detailed information from a profile, we may simply move on. Apart from that, detailed profiles build networks among like-minded professionals. Before you know it, you've found a new mentor…or a new job.
What to do:
Social media: Job seekers can covertly research potential employers with the click of a mouse, but remember that hiring managers can, and will, do the same. Perusing the online activity of potential employees helps them determine if a candidate will mesh with its particular office culture. Through social media, they can look for like, kind and quality – things easily revealed by a candidate's political affiliations, choice of music, even images on Pinterest.
Social skills: Your social profile is their first impression. The lessons of childhood - you can't judge a book by its cover, it's what's on the inside that counts – won't get you very far in adulthood if chat-room activity prevents boardroom consultations.
What to do:
There's no doubt social media has changed the way the world interacts. Believing that it alone can lead to professional harmony is risky business, but combined with traditional tools of the trade – pressing the flesh, eye contact, actual conversation – it's a powerful tool for candidates, clients…and the recruiters who bring them together.
Social media WITH social skills:
[Photo of children courtesy of "hepinting" on flickr.com.]