The following is a guest blog by Erica Moss.
Sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can land you a job if used correctly — or ruin your chances if mishandled. The good news for those living with chronic illness is that these social networks make it easier than ever before to build a personal brand, and establish and grow your network from your computer or mobile device.
The first step to leveraging these tools is to get acquainted with each one and establish your network. LinkedIn has positioned itself as the professional’s social network and should be your primary focus when looking for a job. Set up a LinkedIn profile, add your work history, current position and connect with your colleagues by uploading your email contact list. Research the companies you are interested in; some may already be advertising positions on LinkedIn. If not, look for someone within your network who is connected to the company in some way and politely follow up with them. Also consider joining alumni, professional and interest groups to expand your network and your access to jobs, as people frequently post listings on group discussion boards.
While creating your profile, keep in mind that potential employers will likely peruse it. For those with chronic illness, a question often raised is whether or not to keep your illness private. Depending on your situation, you may decide to keep this private or you may list it if you are looking for a position that is in some way related. You should ask yourself if your illness has any impact on the jobs you are looking for. If not, why include it? This is also important to remember when joining support groups through LinkedIn and Facebook as these groups will appear on your profile.
Facebook is not as obvious of a resource for job hunting as LinkedIn, but it can also be a rich avenue. There are number of tools which leverage your existing Facebook social network to connect you with jobs. IntheDoor.com is a site that compares your network on Facebook with current job listings to see how you can best leverage your contacts to gain access to those positions. A similar site, BranchOut.com, allows you to make your Facebook profile more professional and search a database of more than 3 million job listings.
Twitter can also be useful for establishing a personal brand, expanding your network and engaging with others in your industry. Fill out your profile completely and find people to follow, like colleagues, journalists and influencers in your field. Tweeting your thoughts on issues relevant to your professional interests and links to worthwhile articles is a good way to establish your presence on Twitter. Again, whether or not you choose to comment on your illness is up to you, but remember that unless you protect your tweets, anyone can read them. You can also find jobs on Twitter by searching hashtags like #jobsearch or #salesjobs, and by following the Twitter feeds of companies you would like to work for.
Using these tools in combination with one another will maximize your chances of success. Finding a job always takes effort, patience and perseverance. Social media will not eliminate these necessities, but it can make the search easier and broader for those living with chronic illness.
Erica Moss is the social media outreach coordinator for the online Masters in Nursing program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation’s leading nurse practitioner programs. She’s used her Twitter presence to help land a job, and outside of work, Erica is an avid dog lover who loves photography and meeting new people.
QUERY for HR Directors: We’ve got a grant to study the effects of a coaching intervention on people working who live with chronic illness. Employees who participate would receive coaching services at no fee. We ask nothing from a partner organization other than to communicate our message about this study to their employees. Are you an HR Director or work within organization that you think would be interested in ‘partnering’ with us? For more information: Alyssa.McGonagle@Wayne.edu