We all know that finding a job in the current economy is hard enough already, no matter what sort of job you’re looking for. When your main career goal is to find a job that actually feels meaningful, and not just a comfortable place on a corporate payroll, things can sometimes feel twice as difficult. Following your dream to bring at least a little bit of good into the systems that keep society together and cared for can be hard.
One of the ways to navigate your nonprofit job search is, of course, through social media. The importance of networking and a sound professional profile are well-known. But remember that social media can be used in your job search when you want to target those elusive jobs in nonprofit organizations. So here are the ultimate ways to reach your goal.
1.Use your profile to feature volunteering projects you take part in
The reason you are searching for a position in nonprofit organizations is because you love getting involved in projects that promote a better life and world. Usually, a volunteering project, such as helping out in your community shelter, is also a great opportunity to make both like-minded friends and professional connections, as well as have a good time enjoying the results and stories of your good work. Share pictures of you and the team doing the work. Be careful to not violate any copyright laws or personal boundaries before posting such pictures.
2.Be a “good neighbor”- use your online presence to highlight the work of your friend and connections
Every now and then, use your profile to highlight and praise the work of other people in your circle, or feature interesting articles in the niche, that you happen across. It shows your interest in work outside of your own and is an opportunity to start new conversations.
3.Feature your social media profiles on your online portfolio
For the purposes of finding similar work later in the form of a more permanent position, make sure you document your “on-the-side projects” and feature your social media presence in your online portfolio. You can also make a greater impact this way for purposes beyond finding jobs; for example, by encouraging people who can’t get involved directly to support your cause through other means.
4.Add new contacts to your social networks
As I mentioned above, you’re probably already meeting many like-minded people whenever you get involved in volunteering projects. Don’t lose contact with them; instead, add them on the social media hubs you have in common. This way, you can keep up to speed with what them afterwards, even if you don’t necessarily communicate with them directly on a regular basis.
Once you have a base of 30 to 50 such acquaintances, you can identify which have career interests similar to your own, and brainstorm how you’d like to connect with them next. Keep note of changes in their activity, and directly ask them about their new positions and what it’s like to work at the nonprofit organization they’ve joined.
5.Use hashtags and online trends to your advantage
Facebook and Twitter both offer job-seekers valuable insights into current trends within their industry of choice. For example, Twitter’s hashtags are one of the social media site’s most important tools for starting conversations and generating momentum for news and campaigns. Yet I would argue that Twitter’s usefulness as a job seeking tool often goes unnoticed by those hoping for a new chapter in their career. For example, many recruiters and non-profit organizations will use hashtags such as #careers, #hiring, or #jobopenings to draw attention to current openings. Likewise, industry professionals will often use Facebook groups to advertise job openings, freelance positions, or even just to give their peers a chance to network and ask questions about career advancement.
Even if you’re not actively seeking a new role right now, hashtags are just one indicator of social media’s value as a networking tool, allowing you to connect with- and gain awareness of- prominent people and trends in the non-profit industry. This in turn offers you a valuable chance to start dialogues with people you might want to say in contact with later on.
6.Contribute to Social Activism Campaigns
Twitter has become a strong vehicle in promoting social activism campaigns. If you’re passionate about the trends in this sector, then don’t be afraid to show it; comment on content that is shared through an NPO’s social media channels, be it a news item, an academic study, or just an interesting press release. This can ignite valuable and potentially career-enhancing conversations with people with whom you may wish to network the future.
7.Find the jobs that don’t exist yet
If you have followed the last four tips, then you’re likely an active participant in social media and and well on your way to identifying potential opportunities. It’s important to clarify that, when I say potential opportunities, I mean potential opportunities- ones that may not exist yet. However, if you are confident in seizing the moment, you can use your networking skills to identify openings in the job market before they become official.
The opportunity could present itself in a very informal way. Let’s say you follow a particular company on Twitter and they tweet pictures of a farewell party on their feed: does this mean that they will be on look for a replacement in the not-too-distant future? Reach out to your networks and see if you can find a connection to that organization’s recruiting department.
The key to successful social media job hunting is active participation. The online job market is too dynamic and changeable for you to wait for the ideal job to come to you. You need to make sure your profile is as active and up-to-date as possible, be willing to ask questions, share ideas and start conversations.
Good luck in your searches and even after you find your dream job, keep using social media to spread the message of your good work and the projects you are involved in!
About the Author: Sharon Armstrong is Managing Director of Armstrong Appointments, a leading executive, specialist and headhunting recruitment agency based in South Africa, recruiting both nationally and internationally for a range of specialist industries.