Maybe you shoot emails at recruiters like buckshot. You hope one missive amongst many will score a direct hit. Or, you passively post resumes on job boards and wait for a bite, like a fisherman dangling a baited hook.
Perhaps you narrow your focus. You’re more strategic, and use social media to actively reach out. Three Microsoft Recruiters shared advice and best practices for effectively engaging with company recruiters via social media channels.
CREATE YOUR PROFILES
You can’t find a job through social media if you don’t have an online presence. Rule number one: Set up profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, and GitHub (for programming roles). It’s well known that LinkedIn can be an important site for job hunters, and there are several ways you can make your LinkedIn profile more appealing to recruiters. First, upload a profile photo—accounts with profile photos get 21x more views, 36x more messages, and 9x more connection requests. There’s no need to book a professional headshot photographer (selfies are fine), but do make sure that you’re dressed appropriately and look presentable, and don’t include friends or pets in your photo. Maasa Walker, a social media ambassador and recruiter for Microsoft retail stores, says, “You should have an authentic profile. You want to be professional, but not rigid.”
When Walker explores a LinkedIn profile, she wants to know what drives people. She’s not looking for hobbies, but “what you’re professionally interested in.” Armed with that information, recruiters can more easily guide you into the right role.
“On my profile, I am very specific about what I’m passionate about, what I do, and how I can help people. I emphasize I’m a social recruiter,” says Maasa. “I’m very clear about what I recruit for—retail stores.”
As you develop or refine your LinkedIn profile, ask yourself the following questions to help shape it:
1. Who am I? (Or, what kind of experience do I have?)
2. What do I want to be known for (Or, how do I want to be perceived?)
3. What is my biggest selling point?
Make your profile relevant, to ensure that recruiters know what you do and what you can do for the company. Find people who are on the Microsoft teams you’re interested in, and check out how they’ve crafted their profiles. Then, when you write your own, you might have something that’s more likely to resonate with hiring managers. (Helpful hint: If you’re new to LinkedIn, read others’ profile summaries to get a feel for language common to your industry.)
“Have snackable things on your profile,” says Maasa. “This is about balance—articulate but don’t go overboard. Don’t be muddled. Be very specific in your messaging.”
Search engine optimization is something to consider, too. “Hashtags and keywords can be incredibly useful when recruiters are searching for candidates,” says Maasa.
A few other tips to help your profile appear higher in search results:
1. Add your skills and request endorsements from current and former colleagues. Not only does this help recruiters more easily discover you in search and understand your strengths, but people with at least five skills listed on their profile receive up to 17x more views.
2. Make sure that you list your current or most recent position, as well as the location. Profiles with a position show up more readily in search, and more than 30% of recruiters use advanced search based on location.
3. Include a personal summary of at least 40 words. Think of your summary as the “elevator pitch” for yourself and where to pique your audience’s interest in reading the rest of your profile.
She encourages candidates to consider how they can best brand themselves. “It’s about positioning,” she says. Think about how you want to stand out. How do others in your field describe themselves?
Before, an application was two dimensional—only paper. But now, there are different ways to market yourself, show some personality, and develop your brand. You can show a different side of yourself via social media. You can also mention relevant information that you wouldn’t necessarily put on a resume.
After you decide how you want to sell yourself, back up any claims with examples. Know how to articulate proof for any claims you make. “As a recruiter, sometimes I know they can do the job—but if they can’t sell themselves, I can’t sell them to the hiring manager,” she says. They need assurance that you can verify what you’re advertising during an interview.
Think before you post. “Twitter is more casual than LinkedIn,” says Walker. “What’s appropriate for one might not be appropriate for the other. Know your platform and who your audience is.” Maybe you’re a comedian, and your fans expect you to post explosive content. But what about a hiring manager? Have a digital presence like you already have the next job you want. “Err on the side of too little vs. too much—because you can’t take away—but you can always add,” she advises. Anything you post is discoverable, and “can be used for or against you.” As a general rule, don’t post content you wouldn’t talk about in a professional setting.
Looking for things to post? Set up an account with an RSS aggregator like Feedly, and subscribe to blogs relevant to your field, as well as your professional and personal interests. As you come across interesting articles, share them on your social media channels. Twitter also lets you create lists of users—tech industry leaders, for example—so you can better organize accounts you follow. Take your content curation to the next level with Hootsuite, which lets you set up dashboards with columns for each of your Twitter lists for easy reading, retweeting, replying, and posting. You can even set up columns that pull in tweets with certain keywords or hashtags (#interactiondesign, as an example) to easily track tweets related to these topics.
And don’t forget about creating your own content! You have your own unique point of view, so think about the trending topics within your field that you could write about. LinkedIn has a native publishing feature that lets you publish longer-form posts without having to create a blog on another platform. Creating your own articles is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader, and by writing them on LinkedIn, you’ll be able to share those thoughts with your entire professional network, including any recruiters you may be trying to impress. LinkedIn can show you who’s reading your posts, so you’ll be able to see whether you’re making an impact on the right people.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
If you’re interested in a certain position at Microsoft, first apply online through the Microsoft careers site; recruiters can’t find you if you’re not in the system. Then, do some initial preparation and research before you reach out to a recruiter directly. Turn on “Open Candidates” on LinkedIn, which lets recruiters and peers outside your organization know that you’re open to new opportunities but keeps your job search under the radar. Use LinkedIn Salary to make sure that the role you’re interested in would fall within your target salary range. Finally, check out Microsoft’s LinkedIn page to see the latest company news and discover who in your network already works for the company or any connections you may have in common with the recruiter or hiring manager and team.
Recruiters appreciate candidates who respond to their posts. Simply writing “I’m available” or “Can I have the job?” does little to encourage a dialogue with a someone who’s dealing with hundreds of people. They appreciate when you put some thought into starting a conversation. Try responding to recruiters’ posts with humor, or showing excitement about an opportunity. Those types of comments give them material to work with.
Robin McMahon, a senior recruiter who specializes in hiring for artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data science, stresses the importance of networking. “Connect with others in your industry, LinkedIn groups, and recruiters at Microsoft,” she says.
Once you’re connected, send an InMail to the recruiter. You can also find and reach out to hiring managers. Follow Microsoft Jobs on Twitter—then, every time there’s an update, a blog post, or a new position, you’re alerted.
Sometimes McMahon posts that she’s looking for a certain type of talent. “You’d be surprised how many people get jobs just by reaching out through LinkedIn and Twitter,” she says. If candidates ping her and ask for help, “even if it’s not exactly” for a position she’s trying to fill, she’ll usually get their resume out to the staffing and sourcing community across Microsoft. “It’s a little step above applying on the web site,” she says. (Still, apply online first!)
“Keeping your name in front of people who can help your career is really smart,” McMahon says. “Follow #machinelearning and #AI on Twitter and LinkedIn. Know what’s going out in the news—even in the Microsoft blogs.” From a blog article, you can often learn the product, the team name, and usually the hiring manager’s name. Send that person an invitation to connect with you. Ask them “What can I do to get into Microsoft?” As a talent sourcer, she uses LinkedIn “all the time” to contact potential candidates.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
When you ping a recruiter, try to ensure they hire for your line of work. Mention the role you’re interested in. If you’re an engineer, you’d be wasting your time if you reached out to a recruiter who staffs for the company’s retail stores.
There are hundreds of recruiters working on different areas of the business—get to know the ones who hire for your area. If you want a job in a specific field—you can also look for a hiring manager. The good thing about social is that you can do targeted research. Recruiters will often post what they’re hiring for, and many use hashtags on their profiles (#hololens, #machinelearning, etc.).
“Be a detective,” says McMahon. “Look on the careers site, look at teams and job descriptions you’re interested in. Use Bing or LinkedIn–you can search by team names and it pulls up people’s names that are tied to it.”
Joel Havermans, a Microsoft talent sourcer and social media ambassador in the United Kingdom, says, “Consistently leverage your social media presence. Network with the right people. Listen to industry speakers, such as company CEOs. Do research to approach the right people on social media.” Ask recruiters how they can help you to get a job at Microsoft; it’s better than sending “heaps of messages or generic salutations without a name.”
“Candidates come to my network more effectively through social than through the career site. It’s a more personable approach. I can see who they are and what they do. I feel more obliged to put them in touch with the right person or right opportunity,” he says.
When people engage with recruiters on social media, they’re starting conversations that can lead somewhere—sometimes right into a new job.
As always, for more up to date news and opportunities follow us on Twitter at Microsoft Jobs, on Facebook at Microsoft Careers, Instagram at Microsoft Life, and LinkedIn on the Microsoft Corporate page. Good luck!