A lot of us are on social media. We use it for various reasons, whether it be to keep up with family updates or social trends. But social media can actually be an accelerant in your job search. Have you considered how a recruiter or employer views your online image?
You don’t need to fabricate your life on social media, but you can use it to put your best foot forward and create strong personal branding. It’s important to know how to utilize your social media, what to share, and what not to share. If navigated correctly, your online presence can have a big impact on your job search.
You don’t want to share everything online. For most, it’s a no-brainer that a level of privacy is important. But do you actually know what personal information about you is online? Google your name — this is what a potential employer sees when they’re doing their background research. If you see something you don’t like, it’s time to change your privacy settings.
Privacy settings exist so you can manage what you want and don’t want others to see. This is entirely your choice and responsibility. There are some things you can share online that will help a potential employer analyze your achievements and motivations. There are others, however, that can force them to steer clear of you.
For example, sharing your opinions online about an industry development that’s trending would probably gain you some brownie points. If you’re in the creative industry, showcasing your photography makes sense. Photos from your cousin’s wedding with a heavily exploited open bar, however, may be less impressive. Likewise, a rant telling everyone how much you hate your boss won’t be taken well by any professional.
This doesn’t mean you can’t share personal life events online, but you should consider what is and isn’t appropriate. You can easily access your privacy settings on the social media platforms that you use, and even individual posts. Once you’ve done a Google search, figure out what needs tweaking and spend some time adjusting them.
Social media should be just one of the tools in your job search. Research the company or industry you’re interested in. Not only will you learn about industry trends, keep up to date with industry leaders, and follow your companies of interest, but you can also directly find work on social media. Chances are, any job vacancies will be posted on a company’s Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. They may even have more direct application methods.
The other major benefit of staying active online is networking opportunities. You can interact with people you didn’t know before within your industry, as well as your university alumni or past colleagues. By interacting with their posts and contributing to discussions, you demonstrate your interest. When a job vacancy arises, they could be contacting you.
To make a lasting impression, you need to know what to show on social media, and what not to show. Let’s take a look at how to ensure your online presence is professional and contributes positively to your career opportunities.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are usually used for more casual, personal use. You don’t have to change this to be considered a professional. There are certain things to keep in mind though if you’re going to keep some of your profile public.
Your opinions on current events and industry trends can remain visible. However, ensure that the discussions are professional and always use correct spelling and grammar. This doesn’t need to be constant, but it’s useful to show that you’re curious and invested in career development. You can also use your social media to talk about looking for work. Show interest when others post about vacancies, and even make posts yourself describing your career goals.
The best use of the space is to showcase your strengths and achievements. Got a promotion? Share the good news! Organized a fundraiser? That sounds like the kind of skills an employer would appreciate. Hiked a famous mountain? Resilience and determination are very respectable characteristics. You never know who will see these posts and the opportunities they could have available.
LinkedIn is the largest professional social platform. Treat this differently from your other social accounts. Recruiters use this space to find people who are already employed but have the skills that they’d like in their company. Often, they will headhunt, so it’s worth polishing your LinkedIn account. You want a recruiter to click on your profile and see someone who’s invested, keeping up to date, and actively networking.
Start with your profile. Clearly describe what you’re looking for in your career at the top of your profile. Include the title of your current role and what you’re aspiring for. Have confidence and brag about your strengths in the About, Experience, Education, and Skills sections. Ensure that these match your resume – a small lie can quickly ruin your reputation.
Then you need to consider your activity. What would impress a leader in your industry? Share relevant articles about online trends, contribute to discussions with others in the industry, and even share your own work to hear others’ opinions. Ensure you have balanced and considerate discussions to demonstrate that you have a filter to a potential on-looking employer.
While LinkedIn is the leading professional platform, here are some others to consider for connecting with like-minded people, recruiters, and employers.
There are some things you must avoid sharing online. Firstly, save your rants for private conversations with family and friends. Don’t write anything that can demonstrate that you don’t have a filter or don’t know where to draw the line.
Comments on your current job or boss are a big no-no. It doesn’t matter how unhappy you are in your position; you don’t talk about it online. An employer needs to know that they can trust you to support the company branding and keep personal issues private.
Finally, keep your personal behaviors and hobbies that could raise eyebrows to yourself, or on private. The general rule of thumb is this – if you wouldn’t be comfortable with your employer seeing something, don’t publicly share it.