Using Social Media to Advance Your Career

Social media is everywhere and everyone seems to be part of it. Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, you name it, people are using these tools, spending time creating online personas and even trying to get jobs through their social media accounts.

Sometimes it feels overwhelming to stay up to speed with social media feeds, but what if it could help you advance your career? What if using social media effectively allowed you to reach the right people to help make a positive job change? You’d take the time to stay engaged and be well-positioned. We all would – and we all should, because social media can allow you to be a better self-marketer and help you find the right next job.

When you’re looking for career advancement, social media is a lot more strategic and targeted than epic fail video compilations, posting items for sale or chatting with old friends from high school. You need to begin your social media job campaign from a different place than your personal use.

One in three employers have said they dropped a potential employee off the radar because of something they found online – and 93% of employers DO check you out online.

Target the Right Platforms

Not every company is on the same social media platforms as you. In fact, most companies are selective in that they tend to be only on the platforms where they reach their target audience. Hint: sometimes that target audience is their next new hire. Plus, because so many hiring managers check online for information about a potential hire, you want to be sure you can be seen the way you want to be seen professionally. Remember, one in three employers have said they dropped a potential employee off the radar because of something they found online – and 93% of employers DO check you out online.

We recommend starting with “the big three” platforms when it comes to your job search. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the most likely to be used by companies, but there are definitely exceptions. Consider the style and nature of the companies you want to work for. If it’s a young start-up with a funky, creative vibe, they may not be on Facebook at all. Perhaps they spend more time with Instagram. Companies with products geared towards families are likely to be on Facebook and may have a Pinterest presence.

The key is to consider a company’s target audience, then search the various social media platforms to find them. While they aren’t necessarily looking for new hires through all the platforms they use, by following the company you will show interest in them and more importantly, you’ll get to know the corporate culture better and be able to prove how you align to it.

The Big Three

Facebook is obviously the largest and best known platform. Many individuals have their profile “locked down”, which is fine when all you want to do is play Candy Crush and watch kitten videos. Consider establishing a fan page or an “off-shoot” page that is public to set up your professional profile to allow companies to find you – and most importantly find the information about you that you want them to see – not that shot at your cousin’s stag.

LinkedIn is definitely geared towards the job search market and a great profile on this platform can make a difference. In fact, this is your most important job search platform. Head hunters (recruitment agencies), hiring managers, HR professionals and others spend, on average, more time on LinkedIn than any other social media platform.

Twitter is still going strong and when it comes to hiring, a professional profile can help in a job search. More companies than ever before are spending time on Twitter and it could mean that the company you are looking to work for is there as well.

Getting Your Message Out

If you’re looking for a job, it’s guaranteed an employer will do an online search and chances are they will also specifically search social media platforms. What comes up?  

No one needs to delete their personal accounts with videos showing hot dog eating competitions, but they do need to establish alternative profiles that are geared to the type of jobs they are seeking. Start by ensuring you have a profile using your name or a professional variation of it. Do not use “HelloKittyILoveYou”, or something equally cute as your name.

If those hotdog eating videos are on a profile that uses your name, you’ll want to clean things up. Employers expect personal information on social media, but you need to remove anything that could be seen as polarizing, offensive, incriminating, embarrassing, etc. If your grandmother would raise an eyebrow at it, take it down. If your uncle with completely different political views would get uptight about it, take it down. Also remove online fights with people and links to anything controversial.

The same goes for your picture. It’s time to use a professional looking headshot, not the latest snap of your dog, Mr. Wiggles. This doesn’t mean hiring a professional photographer, but do ensure you look “work-ready” in the photo, not dressed for the beach or glammed up for a concert.

Create a profile description that sells you. A lot of people use the term “personal branding” around this – ultimately you need to know what you want, how you can help and what proves your value.

For example, your thoughts may be: I want a job managing junior chemical engineers because I’m a 10 year veteran in the industry, have a strong success-record, want to see more people advance and have managed people of various ages.

On LinkedIn, you need to craft your summary to allude to your desires, skills and value. It will take time because it has to be professional, yet personalized. Using the above example, the summary may be worded like:

“As a 10-year veteran of the chemical engineering field, I was part of the team that created the country’s best-known automotive fuel additive. I enjoy spending time with other engineers at various stages of their careers and helping them move forward.”

Within your LinkedIn profile, you will provide the relevant details to support this statement.

Facebook, Twitter and other platforms can have less formal profiles, but still need the same thought applied while considering companies you are targeting. There’s nothing wrong with a few personal posts on these two platforms (a greeting to your aunt for her birthday), but definitely keep them clean if you haven’t created a job-search specific account/page.

For added points, consider creating a personal webpage dedicated to your professional profile that connects all of your professional (ie-job related) platforms online. Take the time to create an online presence that’s as solid as your resume and you’ll be on your way to a great impression during your job search.

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