05/22/2013 12:35 pm ET Updated Jul 22, 2013

Utilizing Social Media to Land Your Dream Job

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by Dayna Mathews for

"Social media" is a term we hear often in today's hyper-technology-driven world. But what does it really mean? According to Urban Dictionary, social media is defined as the "participatory online media that utilizes the group to write and direct content, rather than a read-only media. Allows for direct contact between participants." The final sentence in the above definition is the most important to understand when seeking to utilize social media in your job search efforts. Read that last statement a few times out loud to yourself. You'll begin to see the connection between social media and the job search.

Finding a job is about contact, being a participant and networking. Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, states in the first chapter of his book:

As you may already know, most jobs come about through networking, not applying on job boards or aimlessly sending out resumes. Social media tools make networking much easier and much more powerful due to their interactive nature. Thus, when a job-seeker really learns to use social networking well, her chances for finding opportunities multiply exponentially.

Now that you understand why utilizing social media is necessary to land your dream job, I'll share five actions you can take now to increase your chances of reaching your job goals via the use of social media.

1. Find your direction, establish goals and envision job search success.

  • Without direction, the path to success is unclear. Figure out where you want to go and where you want to be. Let that be your guide.
  • Establish your job search goals before you dive in: "Do I want to be a business consultant, or do I want to be a full-time employee at Intel?"
  • Believe that you will reach your career goals and envision yourself at the finish line. As the great Walt Disney says, "If you can dream it, you can do it!"

2. Join LinkedIn and/or maximize it to its full potential.

  • Fill out your profile completely; don't leave anything of importance out!
  • Make sure your profile picture is professional.
  • Your summary should reflect who you are professionally, where you've been (think accomplishments), where you're going and include your specialties in list format.
  • Exhaust your list of skills and expertise -- your network can endorse you for these; increasing your visibility when recruiters perform keyword searches.
  • Connect, connect and connect some more -- with friends, colleagues, teachers, mentors, professionals within your career field (think those who are in the job you want) and recruiters.
  • Ask for recommendations. More recommendations = higher credibility factor.
  • Find professionals with whom you'd like to conduct an informational interview to learn more about a job, company, or career field in which you're interested.

3. Use Facebook to interact with future employers and establish your brand.

  • Search for businesses you'd like to work for and "like" their pages.
  • When businesses post information of interest, "like" and comment to engage and increase your visibility with them.
  • Post content related to who you are professionally and never post controversial material.

4. Join and/or utilize Twitter to follow businesses of interest and those who offer industry related information and jobs.

  • Create a Twitter handle reflecting your brand (mine is DMCareerPro).
  • Search industry keywords, cities or companies to find people and companies to "follow" and learn from -- recruiters and companies post jobs on Twitter!
  • Share interesting, industry-related articles, facts or quotes to let people know you're interested, up-to-date and engaged in the conversations surrounding your industry.
  • Tweet individuals of interest (think industry experts or article authors) to start a conversation, send a shout out, or give recognition to make yourself visible.

5. Use YouTube for more than just baby and cat videos.

  • Create and upload a video resume spotlighting your personality, strengths and what you've got to offer (direct it at specific companies for higher visibility).
  • Enter online contests posted by employers seeking candidates.
  • Search for industry professionals, companies, or job titles to see what's been posted. Comment on videos and/or post them on your other social media platforms to give recognition. Think reciprocity; when you recognize, others may just do the same for you.

As you can hopefully see, there are many ways to use the power of social media to your advantage while searching for your next big career gig. There's a lot to learn, but don't let that stop you. If I can learn all of this, surely you can. The easiest way to learn is to pay attention to what others are doing and copy their actions. No need to reinvent the wheel here.

Think of social media as your job search ninja sidekick. It doesn't do ALL the work, but if you give direction to and take advantage of its presence, it may just sneak in and make your job a whole lot easier.

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Dayna Mathews, advisor in GCC's Career & Employment Services Department, has been providing guidance and expert advice in all things career related since getting her start at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in 2009. Since moving to Phoenix in 2010, Dayna has worked her way up through the non-profit, for-profit, and currently, public sector of career ventures related to providing career counseling and job readiness services to individuals of varying ages and backgrounds. As the Career Services Advisor at GCC, Dayna provides students and community members with free resume assistance, job search strategies for success, workshops on a number of varying career related topics, interview skills training, and strengths-based career planning. Connect with Dayna on LinkedIn and Twitter @DMCareerPro to learn more. For further questions or to schedule an appointment, contact her directly at