Build your network:
- On Facebook, you probably primarily interact with your family and close friends but you’re likely to be connected to many people beyond that circle, such as old school friends and former colleagues. You may assume that you don’t have any contacts in your field of interest, but you don’t know who your network is connected to, and who they have in their own extended circles. (Find out how to map your network)
- Facebook groups can help you to build a support network of people in the same position as you, e.g. there are several working mother, freelancing women and women in tech groups. Whatever your circumstance or background, there’s almost certainly a group for you! Do some research in the Facebook search bar and you will also see suggestions of related groups. Don’t forget that you can easily leave groups so there’s no harm in joining a few to decide which ones are right for you.
- Twitter and LinkedIn both provide a fantastic opportunity to find and connect with individuals and companies that you don’t know in real life. Once you have found them, get on their radar by engaging with their posts (replying to and sharing their content). Once you’ve established a relationship, if appropriate, try taking it a step further and sending them a private message to ask for information or advice to support your return to work.
- Sharing relevant posts on your own LinkedIn and Twitter accounts is also a great way of establishing your own voice in the sector and attracting like-minded individuals to you, including prospective hiring managers and recruiters.
- Did you know that LinkedIn has a huge number of groups? Most of them have a more professional objective than Facebook groups and again, you can search around to find those that are relevant to your industry. Women Returners have our own LinkedIn group where we list the latest opportunities for returners.
- LinkedIn is also the perfect way to get back in touch with former colleagues if you’re not already connected on Facebook.
Research prospective employers:
- Most companies will have accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Track those accounts to glean information for use in your job applications and interviews to stand out from the crowd and show that you’ve done your homework.
- This will also give you a glimpse into company life, helping you to decide which organisations offer the best cultural fit for you and which ones may be more open to applications from returners and/or accommodate flexible working/job share requests, etc.
- Some companies post new job openings on their social channels and/or have separate accounts for careers.
- You can add all of the companies you’re interested in to a Twitter list, which you can have a quick scroll through every day for updates. Find out how to use a Twitter list.
- This is where the Twitter list feature really comes into its own. Add accounts that are talking about your industry and regularly scroll through the list on the Twitter app on your phone whenever you have a spare five minutes. You can make the list private if you prefer to, although in my experience, nobody minds being added to a list called ‘thought leaders’ or ‘industry experts’ and this may even be a conversation starter!
- Find and follow relevant individuals and companies on LinkedIn, which has a timeline feature where thought leaders regularly post interesting articles relating to their industries.
- LinkedIn and Facebook groups can be a fantastic source of discussions around current issues in your sector. Use them to find out the current state of play and join in the conversation when you’re ready! This will be great practice for interviews.
- Look through job advertisements on LinkedIn to make a list of the most sought-after skills in your sector, and take steps to refresh your knowledge as necessary.
- LinkedIn even offers its own learning platform, with a free 30-day trial.
Be proactive in your search:
- You’ve built your networks, brought yourself up to speed with your industry and filled in any skills gaps. Now it’s time to tell people what you are looking for and ask for help! Write a Facebook status and a LinkedIn update to announce that you are looking to return to work. Be specific about what you’re looking for.
- Set up job alerts on LinkedIn and mark your profile as being open to contact from recruiters.
- As a final note, don’t forget that recruiters also use social media to find information about applicants. If you’re applying for jobs, it’s a good idea to complete your profiles, including your career and education history, on both LinkedIn and Facebook, and use a professional photo on all platforms. On Facebook, check you’re happy that any content could be seen by potential employers if they Google you. Check what your LinkedIn profile looks like when viewed by both connections and non-connections, and make sure that you’re projecting a professional image.