Use online stalking for good

I think we’ve Facebook stalkingall done it. Researched people online to check their status. I’ll admit guilt this to this practice. What if we changed our habits and used our online research for our careers. Our 24-7 access to information is a definite game changer. It’s a universally accepted fact that technology has changed the way we live our lives. We go online from multiple devices and within five years there will be inventions we can barely contemplate. Consider the hours you mindlessly spend online. Or me –  it’s better not to count the hours.

When it comes to developing your career, social media affords us many opportunities. Your imagination is the limit to your creativity and inspiration although it can be difficult to know where to start.

Speaking from personal experience, Seek is not your only option for researching and applying for job opportunities. It is certainly one of the most commonly used platforms but it’s beneficial to consider other online techniques.

For a long time, I thought the only way to apply for positions was through official online job channels. I would spend hours answering selection criteria, submit my application and compete against hundreds of other applicants only to never hear anything back. The silence of no response can be deafening. Your pour your heart and soul into an application and…. nothing. It feels like you are sliding into the abyss.

But what if there are other ways to circulate and widen your opportunity base. That’s where using your social media comes in. These days most professionals have a LinkedIn profile and it’s a lot easier to locate people. If you are just starting out, LinkedIn is a fantastic way to reach out and start building your contacts.  A simple search can yield promising results. You can view professionals in your field, locate companies you would like to work for, reach out to potential mentors and view people’s experience.

What if you don’t know the person? Do you feel nervous about reaching out? Will they even respond? These are legitimate fears and I’ve felt every single one of them.  Consider why you want to connect with this person. What would you like to learn?

If you find someone you are interested in, conduct some research. Do a Google search and see what you find. You might discover an email address, a Twitter account, an article or blog post they wrote or contributed to, a quote or their company website. Find out what you can and use it to your advantage. If someone has been quoted in an article, keep it handy to use in potential conversations. If you are taking the time to connect, make it memorable. Show them you are really interested in learning from them, not that you only want something.

It’s very easy to think about only what you want. You want a job but  firstly you need to make an impression. For instance, if a company or person of interest has a Twitter account; take the time to read their tweets, see what they comment and read and comment on articles they share with their followers. Take the time to learn from them. Send them a message. It’s all about getting YOU out there.

Like our face-to-face relationships, our online connections take time to foster and grow. This doesn’t happen instantly. For example, sending a generic LinkedIn invitation is not something new. Many employers receive these standard messages which are soon forgotten and often not responded to.

What if there’s a company you really want to work for but you don’t know a single person. First step, go to their website. Check out the company staff directory. Research the different departments. A company’s website is a kaleidoscope of valuable information. The deeper  you dig, the more you find. It’s good to keep your phone, tablet or a good old notebook close by to take notes which may prove beneficial for future employment opportunities.

Check out the company’s social media platforms. In today’s age, it’s pretty much guaranteed they will have a Facebook page. Most likely there will be matching LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram pages. Evaluate who is commenting on the pages. What type of brand are they projecting? Look at their Twitter followers. See who is commenting on their Facebook page. What hashtags are trending? This information can lead you on an exciting journey of career exploration.

What to do with this newfound information? Start applying it to your purpose. What are you looking for? If you’re not sure, reading blogs is another invaluable resource to access. Blogs provide relatable stories from people who have experienced what you are going through or know what career stage you are experiencing. Careeralism, Undercover Recruiter. Levo League and the WorkHer are great blogs to start with. They can provide insight and advice to help steer your professional direction. You can also get insider tips on every aspect of the job search process.

At times, it is hard to stay motivated and on track especially when you don’t always know what you are doing or have been rejected for that job you really wanted. That’s why using social media in your job search can expand your options. Sometimes just reaching out can help your professional journey. By being honest and explaining why you are connecting can start a really fruitful conversation. Everyone has encountered difficulties in their career and starting the process can often be the most difficult part.

Take a risk. Start researching and connect. Use social media for good instead of stalking your ex. Something good can only come out of the first option.



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