If you think of Facebook as a place to post photos of your pets and kids, well, you’re not wrong. But the social media site is also a powerful tool for networking and engaging in a job search.
Think about it: How often have you seen a friend post that his or her company is looking to fill a position? And, how many groups exist that are related to your field? Much like the office water cooler or a get-together with friends, Facebook is a virtual gathering place where people talk about kids, pets, the news — and work, too. Try these simple strategies to use Facebook to further your job search.
Join Groups That Relate to Your Job Interests
Use Facebook’s search function to find groups of people talking about your industry. If you’re a marketer, for instance, try searching “marketing.” Once you’ve typed a keyword into the search bar, hit the “see all results” text, then choose the “groups” tab on the search results page.
Some groups may be “secret” or “closed” to permit only people related to a topic to join. Ask friends and colleagues to recommend the Facebook groups they find useful for networking or learning about their industries. Get a Facebook invite from them, if needed.
You can also do an online search — outside of Facebook — to see which Facebook groups people recommend in your industry. Try putting “Best Facebook groups for [industry/field/job title]” into a search engine and see what pops up.
Participate in the Groups
You don’t have to be a moderator of the group — the person who reviews every post. But aim to be an active member by regularly reading the posts. Comment on posts when you have an opinion, advice, or a tip to share. You can also post yourself by sharing articles and photos.
Here are some ideas for how to participate:
- Comment on posts asking for advice or sympathy: Even something as simple as “liking a post” can get you noticed by the group moderator and other members.
- Share a relevant news story: Post interesting news related to the group is an easy way to participate.
- Ask icebreakers: You might post something like: “My name is Sam and I went to SCAD as a textile major before becoming a production director for TV shows. Just curious: how did you find your way into this field?”
- Ask questions: Group members are usually willing to answer questions and share advice. Before you ask a question though, search the group’s history to see if it’s been addressed.
- Request help with your job search: If you’re looking for a job in a certain location or to meet people in your city, you can post with these direct asks. You may be surprised to find how generous people are sharing advice or connections.
- Follow the rules: Make sure to note the group’s rules before posting. Some groups, for instance, have rules against self-promotion, so you’ll want to make sure to avoid pushing your book, if you’ve written one, or any products where you make money.
Typically, you’ll find that most groups have only a few active members and a lot of lurkers — people who read posts, and sometimes “like” the posts, but rarely comment. Be more active than this silent majority — join (and start) the conversation.
Attend In-Person Events
If people post about networking events — conferences or drink gatherings in your area — consider attending. You’ll already have something in common with other attendees, which can make small talk easier. The connections formed by meeting someone in person tend to be stronger than those created with online interactions.
Leave Groups That Aren’t Active or Helpful
With closed groups, you won’t be able to see the quality and quantity of posts before joining.
Don’t hesitate to leave any Facebook group you join that isn’t helpful or is cluttering up your feed with content that isn’t actionable.
Just think of it as unsubscribing from a marketing newsletter. Spam isn’t going to further your job search; it’ll only eat up your valuable time. Your goal is to join groups with meaningful information, where you can form connections.
Most of your friends on Facebook are probably people you’ve met in real life. But, as you engage with fellow group members, you may discover you have a lot in common — even more than the topic of the group. Inside jokes can form. Personal details may get shared. This is the process of becoming friends online.
Once you’ve had a few interactions on comment threads — beyond just liking each other’s comments — it may feel reasonable to extend the relationship beyond the group, and connect as friends. You may also send direct messages to people in groups, using Facebook’s messenger functionality. Be cautious, however. Unlike LinkedIn, most people do associate Facebook with friends — not professional networking — so you do not want to abuse the messenger functionality.
Make Sure Your Profile Doesn’t Have Anything Inappropriate
The primary purpose of Facebook is connecting with friends and family. Once you’re in a group, however, you should know that people click through to your profile page once you post. What will they see? You’d better make sure your profile doesn’t have anything starkly unprofessional showing (i.e., pictures of you drunk, scandalous outfits, hateful or unkind language, curses, etc.).
These are good policies to follow if you’re job searching anyway, because recruiters and hiring managers are known to check profiles as part of their pre-interview prep work. You can also fill in your profile with details on your education and work history.