Whether it’s writing, research or project management, working on a contract basis can be challenging. Even the most seasoned freelancer can find that his or her go-to job-well has run dry. Depending on the time of year, there may be an influx of hungry new graduates tempting employers with their willingness to work longer hours for less money. It is a proverbial minefield out there.
Fortunately, options for the job-seeking freelancer are growing and changing. Gone are the days of relying on newspaper ads, stuffy and expensive networking events or word of mouth. Now you can utilize the convenience and immediacy of internet sites.
Social media is where it’s at!
While the utility of social media is by no means a secret, there remains a misperception that some sites are trivial — i.e. solely suitable for personal anecdotes and family photos. In reality, websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others have become essential resources for freelancers seeking work and employers looking to hire.
Read on to find out how you can use various forms of social media to market yourself, build relationships, grow your freelance base, and hunt for jobs.
LinkedIn job search
LinkedIn is free and relatively user-friendly. Initially an electronic rolodex of sorts, LinkedIn has morphed into a space where you can not only connect with like-minded professionals, you can create your own detailed profile, “follow” and “endorse” contacts, share photos and posts, send and receive private messages, and track profile views and rank.
Beyond facilitating professional connections through which you may find work, you can search actual job postings on LinkedIn.
Set up “your job preferences” on your profile and LinkedIn will create and update a customized list of “Jobs you may be interested in.” The postings provide:
- A description of the job,
- Several mechanisms by which you can apply for that position, and
- A list of your connections who work for the hiring company.
Once you click on and view a specific job post, LinkedIn generates a list of the other job posts viewed by persons interested in the initial post. This LinkedIn job search function broadens your search for you.
LinkedIn also offers various Premium memberships that vary in terms of purpose, cost and available features.
Become a LinkedIn Job Seeker
For a monthly fee you can become a “Job Seeker” (the first month is free for all paid memberships). This status allows you to use additional LinkedIn tools to find jobs. “Applicant Insights” measures how you shape up in comparison to the competition in terms of education and skills. “Featured Applicant” puts your application at the top of job posters’ applicant lists.
This membership level permits you to directly contact recruiters and job posters and identify specifically who has viewed your profile over a three-month period.
Additionally, as a Job Seeker, you have access to Lynda.com on-demand courses “to advance your career.”
Consider Business Plus to boost LinkedIn job search
The other LinkedIn membership plan that might be of interest to freelancers is the “Business Plus” plan. Business Plus membership gives you access to all LinkedIn profiles — not just those to whom you are connected — and company information, such as metrics and trends, that might influence which job offers you decide to accept.
Sure, the Premium LinkedIn memberships possess a certain allure. The ability to tap into more resources and gather additional facts might give you an edge over other freelance job seekers. At the same time, merely belonging to the LinkedIn community (free of charge) puts your presence online and in front of employers looking for competent, experienced and tech-savvy freelancers.
LinkedIn can be very low maintenance. There’s no requirement to participate — you choose your level of engagement. Once you build a solid profile and make yourself visible, LinkedIn will email you about new potential contacts, jobs that match your criteria and posts you might find of interest.
Finding jobs via Facebook
Today, it’s unusual to not have a Facebook page. Or at least to peruse the popular social network from time to time. You’re probably familiar with Facebook’s personal pages and private and public community interest group pages, what it means to “like” or “friend,” and the various privacy settings that determine who can see posts and photos. While you can pay to “boost” your posts or advertise on Facebook, the network’s pertinent functions are usually free for those who have joined the site.
But Facebook is good for more than disseminating goofy memes or following trending news stories — it also serves several significant professional functions.
There is the employer practice of scoping out applicant and employee Facebook pages to assess and determine attitudes, habits and perhaps even political and social leanings. Whether or not you agree with this “background check” of sorts, it is something to keep on your radar as a job seeker.
If you’re looking for work, you can use Facebook in a forward-looking light.
You can broadcast your search for new or additional freelance work by posting a blurb on your own personal page and allowing your Facebook friends to share your post. You can create a page dedicated to your professional persona and freelance work and use the friend function to network and engage with others. You may also get lucky and find that the company you are most excited about has its own page. Pages maintained by organizations are an excellent place to scout out projects and upcoming live events.
Listening for jobs on Twitter
Like Facebook, you can use Twitter both personally and professionally. Simply set up your own Twitter profile and request to follow friends, celebrities, nonprofit organizations and other companies. In time, you gather followers of your own.
Unlike Facebook, however, Twitter limits the length of posts. You may only “tweet” up to 140 characters in one post. This restriction changes the look and feel of the job search. While Twitter may be a great way to be alerted to new jobs, you will likely have to click further for the details.
Many companies have an official Twitter page on which you may find links to job posts (posted to other sites such as Indeed, CareerBuilder or the company website). It’s a means for the company to create a dynamic online presence, stay connected with interested parties, and communicate where to find additional information.
In some cases, you also can follow employees of companies you’d like to work for to gain insight into their work experience. This enables you, the follower, to cast a wider net in growing your own follower base and keeping your finger on the pulse of the online freelance job search community.
And many more …
I’ve detailed only three social media sites that are worthy of investigation by the freelance job seeker. There are many, many more! Pinterest, Tumblr, reddit and Snapchat are just a few other examples. Check out these sites to see how you can put them to work to find a great work opportunity.
Social networking may take time out of your busy day, but we are talking minutes well spent. Creating and maintaining an online presence on LinkedIn and other social platforms can link you to unexpected new prospects and fabulous freelance gigs.
Have any LinkedIn job search tips to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!