It’s clear that social media is the future of job search. According to Jobvite, 94% of recruiters use social media to source candidates, and 78% of recruiters have hired candidates through social media.

If you’re a job seeker in your 40’s or 50’s and not particularly social-media savvy, please don’t feel overwhelmed by these stats. Getting up to speed on social hiring to compete with younger candidates is easier than you may think.

All you need to do is to be disciplined and follow these easy steps:

1.) Understand the importance of social media

If Facebook (for staying in touch with family and friends) and YouTube (for videos) are your only social platforms, you may wonder how social media can help you find a job.

Today’s social media platforms are a crucial part of our online presence. Recruiters not only use these platforms to search for talent but also build relationships with passive job seekers, and to follow up after interviews. Hiring managers take all of this into account before even getting in touch with a candidate for an open position. To convince recruiters that you are an outstanding candidate, here’s what you need to do:

2.) Use LinkedIn as your primary social job search platform

LinkedIn is the primary (though not the only) social media platform for job search. There are 6 areas of your LinkedIn profile that you need to pay attention to:

  • Profile picture. First impressions matter, so use a professional photo. Make sure you choose a recent picture that enhances your best look. You may choose to upload a background image that shows your interest in the industry and how you would fit in perfectly with a company’s culture.
  • Work experience. For each position, write accomplishments related to your target industry and use bullet points to explain them with clarity. If possible, connect each position with the company’s LinkedIn page. This will show the company’s logo on the top right corner and will give recruiter extra information about the companies where you’ve worked. It is very simple to implement, as LinkedIn will give you the option to add the business name when you enter a new position on your profile.
  • Contact info. Make sure your email, phone number, and location are up-to-date. Though this sound obvious, it is frequently overlooked.
  • Privacy settings. If you hover over your profile picture with your mouse, you will find the option “Manage” and then “Privacy and Settings”. If your profile isn’t visible to the public already, it is recommended that you make it so. In this way, it will be easier for recruiters to find you.
  • Headline. Did you know that you can edit your headline to whatever you want? Take the time to create one that will promote your brand statement and get you noticed.
  • Summary. This section offers you the opportunity to project your personality, explain why you got into your industry, what you enjoy about it, and what kind of professional you are. Your tone should reflect the industries you’re targeting. You also have the opportunity to link to some of your previous work, or create a portfolio.

Now that you have the basics covered, these next 4 simple steps will help you go the extra mile and create a more competitive LinkedIn presence:

  • Expand your network. You can search for connections by using the search toolbar. Once someone is a connection, you’ll be able to see their posts on your page (and vice-versa), just like on Facebook. This helps you stay informed on what’s going on in your industry.

*Beware: connecting randomly with people you don’t know is poor LinkedIn etiquette. Be sure to personalize your requests.

  • Join groups. Building effective online relationships requires joining groups where like-minded professionals hang out. Though LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups, it is recommended that you choose the ones to focus on, where you can spend time making thoughtful comments to contribute your knowledge and expertise.
  • Share industry posts. An excellent way to show that you’re active on social media and aware of what is going on in your field is by sharing relevant articles from online publications, and also re-sharing and commenting on what your connections have already shared.

It’s taken time and effort, but now you’re ready to search for a job on LinkedIn. Here is how to do it:

  • Use the “jobs” filter in the search box. Here, you can find basic and advanced search options to refine your job search. Use the most important ones to you (location, experience level, title, company). Note that other search options such as ‘salary’ are only for premium members.
  • Apply for the job. Note: you can apply to some jobs without leaving LinkedIn, but sometimes you’ll need to apply on the company’s website.
  • Direct messages. Many recruiters are receptive to receiving direct messages from job seekers. Keep in mind that if you choose to use this feature, be specific about how your background fits the role they’re hiring for.

These last 3 steps are just like the offline procedure of job hunting, but with the benefit of an exceptional online presence, thanks to all the work you’ve already done on LinkedIn.

3.) Use Twitter to complement your social presence

If you don’t have a Twitter account yet, you may want to consider creating one. To set up a Twitter is relatively easy, you just need to follow these steps to create a professional looking profile:

  • Choose an appropriate “handle.” Pick a name that promotes your brand and makes it easy to find you. If your name is not available, you may choose one close to your name, but note that adding numbers to your handle may make it look like spam.
  • Upload a professional photo. You may choose the same photo as you used on LinkedIn. Just make sure it’s a professional shot with enough resolution to be displayed correctly.
  • Write a catchy bio. Keeping your reputation in mind, write something with pizazz that will get you noticed.

Although Twitter isn’t the go-to professional social platform, it can still benefit your job search in several ways:

  • Complement and expand your LinkedIn activity. Tweeting about industry news will have a threefold benefit: it will keep you informed, it will show recruiters you’re up-to-date, and it will demonstrate your fluency with technology.
  • Connect with people in your industry. Twitter can help you grow your network even further. For example, you can search hashtags (#) for people to follow. As with LinkedIn, you will see the posts of the people you follow on your timeline, and you can read the articles they share, and re-tweet (RT) them.
  • Follow companies you may want to work for. As well as people, you can follow companies and interact with them on Twitter by commenting re-tweeting.
  • Find job opportunities. You can actively look for employment opportunities on Twitter. These are some of the most used hashtags to announce job vacancies: #hiring #job #jobsearch #jobopening #jobposting #nowhiring #career #employment.

4). Adapt your Facebook profile to your job search

If you already have a Facebook page, try to see your profile from a recruiter’s point of view. These are the most important aspects you need to take into account:

  • Privacy settings. Change your settings to limit what people can see. To do this, click on the padlock icon on the top right.
  • Images. You may need to clean up your Facebook pictures. Delete any controversial ones, and if you have friends or relatives who tend to tag you on photos that are not “recruiter-friendly”, make them aware of your job searching situation. Facebook’s help center will be very helpful to manage your photos privacy in the best possible way.