Make sure your profile is complete. Having a 100% profile shows you are thorough and that you care. Crucially, it also makes it easier for potential employers find you. They will be searching according to keywords and if all your expertise is listed, it increases the probability of them finding you.
Join social work groups. These are sometimes used directly for recruitment, but will also help you build up your network and show that you have an interest in wider social work issues. Search for relevant groups, such as Advanced Social Work Practice Network or Social Care Leadership, and keep an eye on which groups your contacts are members of. Engage with the groups, but remember that certain topics, such as specific cases, are off-limits.
Make an approach, indirectly. If there’s an organisation you wish to approach and you have a broad network, you probably already have a connection who works for that organisation, one or two degrees removed. An advanced people search will reveal this and your mutual contact, who you should politely ask for an introduction. Never ask anyone directly for a job, but instead seek their general advice on opportunities or the best person to approach.
Use it regularly. Send LinkedIn invitations to connect after you meet new contacts. That way, when you find yourself job searching, you will already have a network in place. If you neglect your profile until you have to find a job, you’ll have the bigger task of building it from scratch.
Choose recommendations with care. Recommendations are powerful – but only if they are credible. If your profile is cluttered with too many, they become devalued. Similarly, too much ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’, will come across as weak. Ideally, a recommendation should be from someone for whom you have provided a service, so an employer.
Keep a professional voice. Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want a current or future employer seeing. Tweets about social life excesses will definitely not impress a future employer. Remember, everything can be traced back to you.
It’s all about the conversation. Remember this is a professional conversation, which should consist of listening, contributing your own thoughts and responding to others. Make sure your tweeting reflects this etiquette with a mix of tweets, retweets and mentions.
Engage directly. The joy of Twitter is that it is so immediate and direct. It could give you access to the head of HR for an organisation you admire without a formal introduction, so take advantage of that fact.
Tool up. If you get into Twitter for the sole purpose of finding a job, you’ll probably want to use one of the free tools available such as TweetDeck or TrueTwit. These will manage updates to other accounts such as LinkedIn and show who has responded to your tweets. It’ll help you focus on the goal of getting a job, rather than drowning in tweets. Finally, don’t forget to follow @ComCareJobs.
Be picky about the organisations you ‘like’. You want to be perceived as passionate about social work, not just looking at working for any organisation that will give you a job. ‘Like’ social work-related groups, including Community Care’s, of course, and Social Work.
Say something sensible. The beauty of social media is that you can get involved in debates and discussions about things that matter to you and the social work profession. Get involved, but make sure you have something relevant and reasoned to say. It’s a good way to get noticed and develop strong contacts.
Smile for the camera. These days it is almost inevitable that a potential employer will check your online profile. Employers aren’t expecting to see you in a professional surrounding, but avoid 4am “worse for wear” pictures.
Keep your private life private. Bear in mind that many people see Facebook as a way to keep in contact with friends and family, so only add professional contacts if their Facebook profiles are work-focused. If you consider Facebook to be for your social life, not your career, make sure potential employers can’t access your profile. Check your privacy settings on a regular basis, as these can change.
A version of this article was originally published on Community Care Jobs