Few of us escape that sinking back-to-work feeling when the holidays come to an end, but if you find yourself particularly restless after your summer break, it could be time to move on to a new job.
While opportunities remain sparse in some industries, social media has made it easier than ever to make valuable contacts and impress those that matter in your field. So how can you tweet or blog your way to a new job?
Social media is a vital recruitment tool so ignore it at your peril, warns Nathan Bowles, CEO of Smart Solutions. "Recruiters are increasingly turning to social media sites in their search for candidates as this has become the domain in which graduates and executives are most active. Such is the recruitment industry at the moment that any candidate who does not engage in social media is at a serious disadvantage to those who carefully manage their online profiles."
Indeed research from Google proves just how much social tools are helping people to climb up the career ladder with a recent study finding that 86% of frequent social media users said they had recently been promoted, and 72% said they are likely to be promoted, compared to 61% and 39% of non-users. So how can social tools help you get ahead?
LinkedIn is arguably the most effective professional online networking tool for employment so Paul Ross, MD of multi-sector recruiter, Barker Ross, recommends to start using it even before you need to find a job. "Get to grips with creating a LinkedIn profile, build a network of connections, get recommendations from existing contacts and join all the groups relevant to your industry. Spend some time on this, as increasing your visibility and connections will mean that employers and recruiters can find you more easily."
If you're currently unemployed, don't be shy about saying this in the LinkedIn Profile section. "State that you are are looking for a job or seeking new opportunities," advises Ross. "This will alert your connections and recruiters and you may find something more easily that you think."
2. Protect your rep
Most us are now aware to be mindful of what we post on social media websites but it pays to double check your online profile, particularly in light of changes and new additions to sites, such as Timeline on Facebook.
"Facebook Timeline reveals key information shared since you joined the online community. Click on a chosen year and recruiters can view everything you user did in that particular year – good and bad!" warns Kim Walker, Data Protection Partner at law firm Thomas Eggar.
"Ensure your Facebook Timeline presents you in a way that will appeal to prospective employers. Be wary of any inflammatory comments or colourful past behaviour which may dent otherwise gleaming professional records."
Every time you click, share, like or post you could be improving or damaging your online image so think carefully before you act, warns Phil Sheridan, managing director at recruitment specialist, Robert Half, who says even online games should be treated with caution.
"Stop and think for a moment before playing certain social network games and posting the results to your Facebook page – unless you want professional contacts to know about the new cow you've purchased on FarmVille."
3. Image is everything
While it is wise to share personal details with caution, don't be afraid to give sensible information about your personal interests and views when interacting in social spheres. "This can lead to common points of interest and boost your circle of contacts," explains Mamta Saha, psychologist and director of Think Spa London.
"However, remember that you're presenting yourself to a broad audience of colleagues, bosses and possibly clients so you should also be highlighting your strengths, through offering intelligent viewpoints, or listing your experience and areas of expertise, and clearly showing off your USPs. Think of social channels as an extension of your CV, but don't go overboard and get too self-promotional."
A personal blog is a good way to further boost your image and demonstrate your experience and expertise in the field. Keep it professional, interesting and even helpful with tips and advice on issues in your arena, but keep in mind that everything you write is up for judgement.
4. Get connected
Contacts are incredibly important as they can alert you to new job openings, help build professional relationships and put you in touch with other valuable contacts. It can feel like a competition to get the most friends and followers on social networking sites, but look for quality over quantity when making new contacts.
With Twitter, it is important to follow relevant companies and recruiters to keep up-to-date. "Make use of hashtags to filter discussions," suggests Phil Roebuck, founder online recruiter, webrecruit. "For example, try searches such as #jobs, #vacancy or #recruiting to instantly find a stream of relevant tweets."
Reaching out to contacts online should be treated in a similar way as if you were meeting face-to-face. On Twitter for example, don't bombard with annoying or cheeky requests for people to you follow you and instead work on creating an engaging and relevant public profile that will make them want to connect with you.
5. Creative genuis
A creative approach to job hunting has become increasingly common in competitive industries such as marketing and media so don't be afraid to push the boundaries beyond the regular CV. "YouTube is a great channel to promote your personal brand," says Roebuck. "You could create a video CV, such as a short and traditional video including a general rundown of your career and skills, or you could film a more creative 'out-of-the-box' CV."
While Pinterest is not a networking platform in the traditional sense as it does not allow direct communication, it is becoming increasingly popular with businesses. "It is useful to demonstrate your knowledge, organisational skills, and creativity to potential employers," says Robert Bowyer, a director at temporary work consultancy, Venn Group. "You can create boards which relate to specific skills-sets you have and use it as a portal to link to work you want to showcase – like an online portfolio."