A key facet of an effective job search includes doing your due diligence. For many of us, this includes researching every single human working within a department and institution! Combing websites, reviewing organizational charts, and then searching for information about individuals often helps to inform our decision-making. A question often asked is “Should I connect via LinkedIn with the folks associated with my hopeful department?” Although this may be an unpopular reply, the answer is no…not maybe…but no!
The intended purpose of LinkedIn, as well as other social media platforms, is to stay connected. One might argue that we could stay connected with those we know, yet also get connected to individuals we do not know. I agree with this philosophy, but just not when you are targeting those affiliated with your potential employer. In all of the years of conducting national searches, I have yet to find many employers who appreciated this while the search was being conducted.

The end of a search, irrespective of whether you are the candidate of choice or not, is the perfect time to connect via LinkedIn. The outcome of the search has been determined and you have the foundation of a professional relationship with the person. I appreciate people who send a request to me and then follow the request with a short message via LinkedIn. Particularly, this is of import when not selected for the position. This shows that you are investing in continuing your professional connection.

If you already know the hopeful employer, would it then be appropriate to connect? I would argue that if you knew the person prior to this opportunity, what precluded you from connecting at an earlier point? In a national job search, the perception of your intentions is often more important than your personal rationale for wanting to reach out to the potential employer. This means the timing of your outreach is everything. For many public institutions, the human resources department on their campus provides strict guidelines for communicating with candidates outside of the search process. This could make it impossible for them to connect with you.

Some final thoughts to consider:

  1. “Should I Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram request them?” Likely, you already know my reply to this! No, and again, no. And then, no!
  2. “If they connect with me via LinkedIn, should I accept?” Yes, I would accept this connection.
  3. “Should I verbally mention during the interview process that I am interested in connecting with them?” There is essentially nothing to be gained from doing this while the search is in process. Remember that once you apply for a position, every move you make is a part of the job interview.
  4. “I do not want to participate in social media…are there ramifications to this?” This is a tough question. Sometimes this has a negative impact, yet it is worse to have a social media presence which is not monitored. Paying attention to your accounts to ensure you are aware of what is attached to your name is of high importance. My favorite example of this occurred when I posted a story about my experience flying on a plane on Facebook. The story was innocuous, simple, and what I thought was comical. A long ago friend replied to the post with a not so appropriate comment. Immediately, I deleted the comment, yet know some other people saw it before it was deleted. This was not my finest social media moment!

Always remember that every day is an opportunity to attend to your social media presence with diligence. Pictures, posts, and blogs attached to your name are always available for public consumption. Paying close attention to these details will help when you are looking for a new opportunity.
Finally, you will never have the opportunity to make a stronger connection than during the interview process itself. Whether you get the job or not, you must keep in mind that the relationships you can make during the search form a part of your professional network and can pay off later. Once a relationship has been forged, making a connection will seem more sincere, and keeping in touch with those individuals on social networks will be both easy and meaningful.