Amazing story from one of my favorite bloggers Alison Green at Ask A Manager about how a candidate’s blog gave her a successful edge in the hiring process.

In addition to being qualified, the candidate–Kimberlee Stiens of Business For Good, Not Evil–had a strong online presence that allowed the Alison to learn more about her.  Kim shared insightful comments on other blogs and offered great insights on her own blog that allowed Alison to really get to know her outside of the formal hiring process.  Even though Kim wasn’t right for the position she applied for Alison told her about a position that was about to open and how she might be a good fit.

(Did you read that last part?  Read it again)

Stories like this warm. my. heart.  Why?  Because they demonstrate how a: employers can be more thoughtful in using social media to get to know candidates and b.  how candidates can connect with employers and demonstrate their value by being insightful, engaging, and authentic.

Based on her experience hiring Kim, Alison shared some dos and donts on using social media in the job hunt:

First, lest I send anyone in the wrong direction, let’s be clear on some of the ways that social media probably won’t get you a job:

  • Creating a Twitter account and waiting for prospective employers to approach you
  • Randomly sending your resume to hiring managers on LinkedIn
  • Creating an online video resume (for the love of god, please don’t)

But here’s how social media really could help you get a job:

  • Being a smart, thoughtful commenter on blogs in your field
  • Possibly creating an awesome blog of your own and making sure people know about it
  • Not neglecting the traditional pieces of a job search — writing a great cover letter, doing a strong interview, etc.

I would add the following tips for using social media in the job search:

~Pay attention to your reputation: Here’s the thing, Kim never used the word brand or talked about developing her brand.  But clearly Kim developed a strong reputation as curious and insightful as well as having excellent writing skills.  She used social media to put their best foot forward and it landed them a job. In other words: what impression do you want people to have of you based on your actions online?

~Establish a connection: Kim’s blog, comments, and cover letter demonstrate a genuine interest in nonprofits, the organization, and in Alison.  Check out her cover letter and her experience in getting hired. Are you demonstrating interest, awareness, and passion for your work?

~Express gratitude: I must admit I am new to Kim’s blog but what stands out to me is her appreciation for other blogs in the nonprofit sector.  She is part of the community in a way that demonstrates not only a commitment to learning but also a commitment to building community with her fellow bloggers.  Are you an active member of the community-giving, sharing, and learning?

I have been offered opportunities (and have created my own) by being thoughtful in how I used social media.  This does not mean all you need to do is throw up a blog and the paying gigs will come rolling in.  What it does mean is that social media can give you a much needed edge in the job hunt.

However, there is a challenge.  Alison is already social media savvy–she has a blog and understands what makes people stand out,  and she also knows what to look for when checking out someone’s presence online.  While we certainly learn of job opportunities online, not all organizations really use the internet beyond putting up a job post online or know what they are looking for when they google you. What does having a social media presence mean if you are going for opportunities where the organization is not big on social media?

~Learn more about your field: You can use social media to learn and connect with others in your field so that when you apply you can easily demonstrate passion and awareness.

~Get access to helpful opportunities: Conferences, workshops, volunteer opportunities, internships–these are all opportunities that can you help you develop your expertise and make you a stronger candidate.

~Make connections: Developing relationships with folks in your field can only help.  Maybe they know the organization you are applying for and can put in a good word for you.  Maybe they can provide you tips and tricks on how to make a good impression on an interview. It never hurts to grow your network.

Have you had success with using social media during the job hunt?  What tips would you add?