No matter where you are in your job search, social media will play a critical role in your success. From broadening your network to defining your personal brand (for better or worse), social media will likely influence your next career move.
What is a personal brand, anyway?
There are many possible answers, but in career management, it all boils down to your reputation.
While you can’t control what people say and think about you, you can control how you present yourself and that is the key to building a reputation in social media circles (and beyond).
Social media should consistently represent the message you’re trying to share during your job search. That might be:
- Hire Me!
- Work with Me!
- I’m a professional!
Regardless, you need to get your voice out on social media so that when people look for you online, which they will do, they see the best professional parts of you.
So where do you start?
Start by assessing the social media landscape and figuring out how you fit in.
- Who Am I Online? Where do I have accounts? This is the easiest step – where are you online? Do you spend a lot of time there? Look at your profiles and determine what your activity and content say about you. To a stranger, you ARE the sum of your online profiles and activity.
- What do my actions/information say about me? This one is a little harder. Are you political online? Religious? Sports fan? Every share, like, tweet, comment, photo, or piece of original content makes a statement. We’ve all seen stories of a person who runs afoul of their employer from something said online. Understand that your social media activity is NOT private and has a real-life impact on you and your professional reputation.
- What do I think others might say about me? Be empathetic and put yourself in your intended audience (future employers) shoes. Look at yourself objectively and see what you would think about you if you didn’t know you. This is a little harder, and it can be helpful to have a trusted friend give you feedback.
- What can I say differently to make what I want to say clearer? Review your recent content and traffic- is it resonating with the right people? You will want balance being authentic, consistent, and intentional with being timely and honest. This can be a tricky balance to find but it’s worth the effort.
- Where is my audience? Finding people you want to connect to can be the hardest of all. There’s sometimes no way of knowing beyond trial-and-error if you’re getting the attention you want. This takes risk, determination, and discipline to get right and you won’t always get it right the first time. Do NOT give up on this but by all means pivot and change until you get it right.
What platforms should I use?
As far as social media for your career is concerned, there is only one king and that’s LinkedIn. Unlike the other social networks out there, LinkedIn focuses on your professional life. It is the first-place career seekers should go to start and if you’ve already got an account, great! If you don’t, then getting one ASAP.
We created an overview micro-course of navigating and optimizing LinkedIn- check it out under Course on our website. It’s totally free and can help you get the show-ready stage.
When it comes to other social networks, they have two roles in the professional job search: brand building and research.
From a brand and reputation standpoint, most social networks are only visible to outside parties if you choose your profile data to be publicly accessible. If you lock down your profile, you restrict your branding to your circle of social media friends and followers. This might seem it’s airtight but sometimes it’s not as secure as it seems. Social Media platforms WANT you to be as public as possible often times because that creates social friction which creates views which drives advertising revenue. Twitter is one example – tweets are public by default. They need people shouting into the Twitterverse. The dirty little secret of all social media is you frequently don’t know who’s watching you. So, the professional reputation you build on LinkedIn could be undone if your clients or future employer find you on other networks and you’re a dumpster fire of toxic content. It’s important to note here that on social media ‘toxic’ is in the eye of the beholder!
Bottom line: The content you create and share is what will establish your reputation. Don’t blow up your chances of landing a new job by posting the wrong thing online.