Social Media Moves: 59 Things to Do in Social Media when You Change Jobs


Once upon a time when you moved from one city to another or one job to another you wrapped newspaper around the breakables, threw things into boxes, filed a forwarding notice with the US Postal Service, and away you went.

No longer!

I’ve been in a transitional zone the past couple of weeks knowing that I was looking at taking a new job and moving to a new city. That led me to do a few things in social media but I didn’t want to signal too much in case things didn’t work out.

I also had to think about how and when I would notify people in various spaces and tie much of that to the timing of a news release so as not to scoop my new organization, while still trying to avoid having people close to me get the news from strangers. This is not nearly as simple as a going-away party and a forwarding notice.

I got the job and have been busily working away on various fronts to transition. It occurred to me that my activities might serve as a checklist for others in similar circumstances. While not everyone will have the news-release timing element the to-do list is the same; you just won’t have to stage things in quite the same way.

The length of this checklist of social media activities for people changing jobs is just a tad daunting. If you're not in all these spaces--you don't tweet, you don't have a blog--the list does get shorter. But the list of spaces you have available in which to establish expertise and build a network to find that next great job is also shorter.

Job Search and Post-Application Activities

All Spaces

  • Assume that everything you’re doing is part of what will be reviewed by your future employer and all your new colleagues. Behave accordingly. Delete past stupidity.

Twitter

  • Follow people (in the city you’ll be moving to, if that's part of the deal) who are connected to the sectors you’ll be working in. I say "sectors" because, for example, I'll be running a nonprofit (one sector) in biking/active transportation (two more sectors). You might be going to work for an online (tech sector) retailer (another sector) of outdoor recreational equipment (another sector).
  • Start a couple of relevant lists to help you organize the new input. Since Twitter caps the number of lists you can have and I had maxed that out I had to make some decisions about what to keep and what to cut or consolidate. You should also think about whether you want to keep those new lists private or make them public, depending on how many savvy stalkers you think you have.
  • To think about: Do you or don’t you follow people who will be involved in the search process? If I were in a general job search I’d definitely follow people in organizations I hoped to work for. You can always look at profiles even if you don’t follow, or add them to a private list.
  • To think about: Do you want to unfollow some accounts to improve your ability to focus on your new direction/location? Maybe those move to a list so you don’t lose track of them completely.

LinkedIn

  • Clean up your profile overall. You don’t have one? Good luck with that job hunt; LinkedIn is a major tool for job seekers and recruiters.
  • This is a good time to get an updated head shot. Don’t be ludicrously different in real life from the photo on your profile; your vanity (self-delusion) will be too evident the minute the interviewer meets you.
  • Make sure you’re connected to everyone who recognizes you in your current role and title before moving on to the new one. For gosh sakes don’t use their generic message when you send the invitation! Personalize each one so people know why you’re connecting. In some instances you may not have talked to the person in quite a while so it’s time to refresh his/her memory. Whenever I meet someone new I put a note in the Outlook contact about when and where we met and something we discussed; I refer to that when I make a LinkedIn request if it’s someone I don’t work with on a regular basis.
  • Ask people you’ll be using as references in the application process if they’d be willing to write public recommendations for you on LinkedIn. Be specific in the request: What skills or knowledge would be most helpful to have featured on your profile when the future employer looks at it? Even if you don’t get this job you may be looking for another, and meanwhile your profile is more complete.
  • While you’re at it, write some recommendations for others. First get in touch and say you’d like to do that; ask what they’d most like to have highlighted. This is good karma and it also shows your ability to evaluate the work of others and that you’re a nice person generally. (If you’re not a nice person, skip all of this advice and just respond to blind box number ads in your local newspaper.)
  • Check LinkedIn contacts against Outlook contacts and download vcards as needed to clean that up before exporting a back-up copy. LinkedIn lets you upload Outlook contacts to check for matches but that doesn’t help clean up Outlook, which is my master go-to list since not everyone is on LinkedIn. When I started doing this I found that quite a few people had changed jobs without telling me (a mistake you won’t make if you use this checklist).
  • Join relevant groups in the new sector and city. Think about whether to put those groups’ badges on your profile—that may be a step that signals too much depending on your situation.
  • Engage in selected conversations in those groups, remembering that all the activity shows on your profile and is thus visible to everyone you’re connected to already, possibly including your boss and colleagues. You want to start becoming a familiar name and face in the new circles without having a foot too far out the door if you don't want people to know you're looking.
  • Check LinkedIn profiles for your potential future colleagues for group ideas. It might be a tad too stalkerish to join every single one they’re in. If you’re serious about this profession or industry you probably already have at least one good group in common.
  • Answer some relevant questions in the Q&A section if you haven’t already been doing that. Warning note: If people vote your answer the best on a question, that topic appears on your profile as part of your expertise. Don’t answer random questions just because you have opinions unless you want that expertise on your profile.

Facebook

  • Do some housekeeping on old posts that shouldn’t be public.
  • Depending on your current situation you either tell everyone you’re looking, you don’t say a word, or somewhere in the middle depending on what kinds of lists you’ve set up there. Just make sure the update isn’t set to “Public” if you don’t want it to be!
  • Become a fan of the business or organization page for your target. Share their links and updates as appropriate—again, thinking about what you signal and whether you want to do that.

Email Accounts

  • Clean up contact lists in Outlook, Gmail, and anywhere else you have an account. When you make the move you’ll be sending a message out to everyone on the list and/or to hand-selected subsets. If you haven’t cleaned up your list in a while now is a good time to do it since you’d be going through it to do that selection anyway. Create groups (Gmail) or categories (Outlook) to batch people based both on where you’ve been and where you’re going.
  • During that step think about your contacts in terms of how you want to notify them when the time comes. If you’ll need to send special messages to specific groups—for example, to all members of a board or committee you’ll be resigning from, as was my situation—do you already have an email group set up for each one? If you don’t you’re probably compiling that by hand every time or using reply-all on the last message from the group. Either way you may want a list that keeps those people grouped for future reference in case you need to tap that circle in your new role.
  • If you're in a position where you are expected to leave your contact list behind for others, clean up any notes you wouldn't want others to see.

Blog

  • Meet your new best friend, “Spellcheck.”
  • Even if you’ve never used an editorial calendar or a plan, use one now. What posts will be visible to someone who comes and looks at the last few before the date you applied? And after?

Other Spaces

  • Same general principles: Tidy up a bit, do something meaningful as your most recent activity, and reinforce the connections you were looking for in that space originally.

You Interviewed and You’re Waiting to Hear

All Spaces

  • More discussion in relevant groups on LinkedIn, tweeting, and blogging, all with the tone and content that are in keeping with the job you’re going for.
  • Keep your references posted on your progress, asking them to continue to keep it confidential.
  • Don't blab on Facebook! You and the organizational have gone on a couple of dates and you don't know whether they're going to pop the question. Don't set yourself up for disappointment or embarrassment. Think of this as the "it's complicated" relationship stage--is that really something you need to share while you're going through it?

You Got the Job!

Congratulations—that’s awesome!

In my situation I had close to two weeks between when I accepted the position and when we’d be putting out a news release. I didn’t want any of my blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking friends to start spreading the word before it was made public by the organization or before I had a chance to tell my coworkers myself, so you know what I did?

Nothing.

As in, I said nothing on Twitter. On Facebook. On my blog. In email.

It killed me.

I told my best friend and swore her to secrecy; she was leaving for three weeks in Europe with only spotty wi-fi access or it might have killed her too.

I told my boss and the HR director, both of whom understood the need not to say anything publicly.

I told my references who had been getting updates from me at each phase of the interview process and thanked them yet again for their support.

I had to wait for the offer to be finalized before I could tell my staff and closest colleagues, asking them not to share the news with others until the date the release was due out.

In preparation for the news release I worked on the following:

Email Draft Copy and List Preparation

  • May as well craft them now. They can all be queued up with a specific date/time for sending if you’re using Outlook. Since Gmail doesn’t have that function I got all the drafts ready with recipients in the BCC field. Think about the tone you’re striking and whether you can do some final good things for the organization you’re leaving as well as the one you’re going to.
  • It goes without saying—but I’ll say it anyway because I just heard of someone breaking this rule—these are not bridge-burning emails. You never know when you’ll be back or who you’ll need to reconnect with in the future. Be professional and courteous. What if your mom read this?
  • If you have all your new contact information lined up, create a new vcard for yourself and attach that to the emails to make it easy for people to update their contact list. Include the information as text, too, for those who can’t import that format.

My list of emails to prep:
  • Colleagues I hadn’t told in person.
  • General list of personal contacts.
  • Separate one for each board and committee I’d be resigning from.
  • Special one for a monthly gathering of friends to invite them to one last bash at my house.
  • Special one for existing contacts in the industry sector I’ll be working in, inviting them to connect with my new organization.
  • General list of all professional contacts.

Blogs


It’s Official!

Email

  • Hit send.
  • Prepare to deal with replies! You’ll be deleting bad contacts, cleaning up others, and responding to good wishes and questions. In my case I sent the email out during a week that had the Fourth of July holiday mid-week so I got a zillion autoresponse emails for people taking the week off. In hindsight I wish I had waited but I was too excited to.
  • If you’re staying at your old job for a while, consider adding a footer to your signature that tells people where you’re going and when your last day in the office is so they can plan around that.

LinkedIn

  • Talk about the new position as a status update with links on your profile. If there's no news release, link to the new organization's site.
  • Post in selected groups as appropriate.
  • Depending on your start date, update the profile to show the new position.

Twitter

  • Update your bio to reflect the new position.
  • Announce a few different times of day with a link to the news release or your updated LinkedIn profile.
  • Send @ messages to people in the new organization or location if you’ve established a relationship with them or feel comfortable saying, “Hey, I’m headed your way!” You’ll have some new friends all lined up when you get to town.
  • Prepare to deal with @ messages. You might do several round-up “Thx for good wishes @name @name @name” tweets to deal with in batches rather than one at a time. Since some people seeing the thank-you tweet will not have read the news, include some reference to it or a link: "Thx for good wishes on [link]" or "Thx for good wishes on new job."

Facebook

  • You could have fun with your cover photo or profile pic to tease the news. I changed my cover photo to the Seattle skyline the night before the public announcement without saying why because that’s where I was moving.
  • Monitor both your own profile and the organization’s page; respond to good wishes.

Blogs

  • Publish.
  • Update your bio on the blog.
  • Monitor and respond to comments.

Everywhere Else

  • Send messages to specialty online communities you’ve engaged in.
  • If I were uber-organized I would know where all those other bios are that I’ve created over time in various social spaces and be able to clean them up systematically. As it is I can think of a few, such as Quora. The rest I’ll find as I stumble around the Web. (oh, right, StumbleUpon)
  • If you haven't Googled yourself in a while now's a good time. Is the word spreading? Do you find bios you need to clean up? (Run it as an incognito search for cleaner results.)
  • Maybe this is your cue to start a list of all your social identities so when the next time comes for some clean-up you have your broom and dustpan all ready.

Now You’re Really Gone

Email

  • If you didn’t have your new contact information available when you notified people, now you can send an email to your cleaned-up contact list with an updated vcard. If you’re having some kind of goodbye event the invitation to that should be part of this so you’re not emailing people too many times.
  • Set up an autoresponder on your email at your previous organization with contact information for people there who can respond and with your new contact information. Work with your IT folks on how long that can stay active.
  • You may want to do the same with an autoresponder or a signature line for your personal email account for a while to catch people who didn't see the original message. (If you do a big blind BCC list the message can get flagged as spam.)

Good luck, and happy socializing!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes


(Not all the lyrics fit my point--it's the refrain I was going for.)

We’re creatures of habit. We floss daily—or we don’t. We sleep on the same side of the bed every night. We buy the same brand of cereal or variety of fruit over and over. When a kid does something we hear our parents’ phrases come out of our mouths even though we swore we’d never do that.

We tend to take the same route to work every day. Although I’d argue that riding a bike frees the mind so I’m less likely to get stuck in that particular rut, I do park in the same spot in the bike rack every day. When I had to change “my” spot because someone else was getting there before me and using it, I felt the mental wrench. Now my “new” spot is “my” spot and I don’t even look at the other one. So we can change.

What would it take for you to make radical changes in your life? To develop all-new routines and relationships?

While I wasn’t looking to shake things up dramatically, that's what the next phase of my life holds, at least for a while.

Given the chance of a lifetime to pursue a long-held dream—to run an organization doing something I believe in passionately—I’ve accepted the position of executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. With headquarters in Seattle. And I start in four weeks. The professional opportunity excites me and offers a great challenge, coming as it does at a critical time for active transportation because of the cuts in federal funding

There are losses as well as gains, of course. This post isn't about the sad parts of moving, like leaving my best friend and my older daughter (Skype! Text! Facebook! Maybe even actual phone calls!) and my work and colleagues at WSU Spokane. I haven't had to do those things yet so that will hit more as the departure date draws closer.

Instead it's about the chance to reshape some other elements in my life, which is giving me a charge I hadn’t expected as Eric and I pack up the house. For example:

I get to walk away from every decorating decision I’ve ever made! We’re going to rent our house furnished rather than try to sell it in this market and initially will live in a small furnished condo belonging to my brother and his wife while we look for a permanent place.

We’ll put a few pieces into storage, but only a few. When we settle I can change everything: color schemes, style (such as it was), the overall mish-mash of things from my childhood and pieces I’ve acquired through more than one marriage and move.

I will finally acknowledge that certain craft projects will never come to fruition. I already gave away two big bags of leftover yarn that will go to a high school knitting club. I have 5 yards of a beautiful lightweight wool herringbone that I snagged when I cleaned out my parents’ house—in 2001! After more than a decade I’m clearly not going to whip up a fabulous suit the way I thought I would and I’m giving it to a friend. I bought candle-making supplies, did it a few times, wasn’t all that great at creating candles that would burn down consistently, and am giving those away.

I’m not getting rid of my grandmother's knitting needles or my mom's sewing machine, mind you. I’m just getting rid of the flotsam and jetsam of projects both finished and abandoned.

How old are those spices anyway? I love to cook so over the years I have accumulated many a jar of something used once, then filed alphabetically in my spice drawer. At some point in 2008 I started writing the month and year of purchase on the tops of the lids so at least I know just how stale most of that drawerfull is. I’m going to pitch everything older than 2011 since they all smell roughly the same and presumably would impart no flavor to the dish.

Where did all these dishes come from? I’m not quite clear on how I ended up owning five glass pie pans but I know I’ve never baked more than three pies at a time. I bet I could make perfectly good layer cakes with  a set of nine-inch pans or a set of ten-inch, but I've never needed both at the same time. And so on through utensils, pots, pans, knives, and everything else in an  over-stocked kitchen.

Many of my books deserve new readers. This actually started 6 years ago when we moved out of a 5,000-square-foot house with lots of built-in bookshelves and wall space for even more. The house we moved into has less wall space and only a few built-in shelves.

At that time I set free quite a few books to find new homes and acquired a whopping credit at Auntie’s in return. The inevitable result of that, of course, was that the stacks of books crept back up. I now own a Kindle to reduce my carbon footprint and am going to keep only a few special volumes. (The signed copy of Joyride by Mia Birk goes to Seattle with me, of course.)

Style purge! This one is trickier. I’m changing to a different climate and my sweaters will come in handy. But anything I’ve been keeping with the thought that it’s perfectly good and surely I’ll wear it one of these days is going away. I've been shopping for bike-friendly fashion for a long time so no big adjustment is needed there.

So there you have it. I'm packing, sorting, dumping, and giving things to friends; visiting favorite places one more time; tying up loose ends on work projects; and looking down the road and around the bend to something new. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes indeed!

Related Reading
Your Turn
  • If you cleaned as if you were moving, what would you get rid of?
  • What are you waiting for?
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