By Hywania Thompson
You may think of Facebook or Instagram as more of a liability than a useful tool in your job search, but if used thoughtfully and intentionally, social media can be a professional boon. According to online career platform The Muse, 92% of companies use social media for hiring. It’s not unusual to see job posts on Facebook or social sites other than LinkedIn.
Laura Bermudo, director of client relations at The QTI Group, says both professional and personal social media platforms are used to market careers to both mass and targeted audiences.
“Job seekers beware: the advent of social media has created a very open society, so expect [that] your full online profile, regardless of its nature and intent, can reflect on your reputation as a candidate and employee alike,” she says.
A career advice article on The Muse also states that three out of four hiring managers check candidates’ social media profiles. Bermudo hasn’t experienced that. She says outside of LinkedIn, it’s extremely rare to hear of an employer using other social media platforms for reviewing talent. However, Bermudo says, it is best practice for human resources and recruiting professionals to research and review databases or social media sites that will provide career-related information on sought-after candidates.
Sam Georgson, a former BRAVA intern and current contributor, landed her present position through social media and networking. Georgson interviewed business owner Kati Whitledge for a story on women in business and later kept in touch by connecting with Whitledge on LinkedIn. That led to Georgson taking on writing projects here and there for Whitledge.
Georgson says Whitledge took note of her writing, social media presence and how she engaged with clients.
“I make sure anything I have out there wouldn’t be offensive—watch- ing my language, keeping my posts fun, not doing anything too personal or too much for an employer to see,” Georgson says. Now, Georgson works full-time doing social media and marketing for Whitledge’s company.
Finding people and opportunities through networking has an impact. Georgson says there’s no harm in sending that friend request. “Start building that rapport over social media,” she says. “Maybe it used to be taboo, but I think now it’s accepted. That’s kind of a great way to get your foot in the door and make that first connection.”
If you’re using social media in your job hunt, you can search for people on those platforms who have job titles that you’re interested in and start interacting with them. “Basically, the best way to interact is by liking, sharing and commenting on their content,” says Don Stanley, UW-Madison digital marketing instructor. Stanley says you must be strategic about building your network. “A lot of people will say your net worth will ultimately be equal to your network,” he says.
Bermudo offers a similar perspective. “I would recommend treating LinkedIn like you would an in-person networking environment where you want to invest in others and do the right thing to make real connections and add value,” she says.
“Think about how you can give advice, share relevant articles with those you’d like to keep in your trusted circle and become a thought leader by putting time and effort into producing quality content.”
When it comes to social media and your career, Stanley believes you shouldn’t post content that you wouldn’t want your closest, most respected relative to see. “The other thing I tell people to be cognizant of is nobody is looking to hire you,” he says. “They’re looking to find a great fit for their job.”
DIGITAL NETWORKING TO-DOS
UW-Madison digital marketing instructor Don Stanley shares a few tips for branding yourself and leveraging your network on social media:
- Spend time doing research. Search for things related to your industry and look for people who show up in the search results— not Google searches—search specifically within the social platforms and start following people.
- Make sure your bios on any social media platform are reflective of what you want people to know from a professional perspective and provide valuable insight about yourself.
- Engage in a thoughtful manner and in a way that allows people to remember you. Put yourself in a position to be someone who has taken the time and energy to build your network.
- Provide some original content that shows your thought leadership. Share your perspectives on why a topic is important to you.