Social media can be one of your biggest assets, as well as one of your biggest liabilities in a job hunt. It is important to understand exactly how these accounts can help and hurt you, and what you can do to get the most out of them without ruining your chances of finding a great job in the process.
Why Social Media is Helpful
In the age of the internet, interconnectivity is much more important than it ever was before. You hear about how everyone knows everyone, and social media seems to prove that fact when you see friends that know your other friends, and you never knew it. One great asset is that with your social media accounts, you are now connected to everyone that your friends are connected to, as well. That means that there is a far greater chance that someone you know, or someone who knows him or her, works in your industry. There are more ways than ever to find and connect with other professionals in your field. Expanding your professional network can be as easy as sending your friend a message asking for an introduction.
Another great part of social media is that it is so easy to keep up with people from every part of your life. Friends don’t lose touch the way they did before the internet existed. Once you know someone, you often keep in touch for a very long time. This means that as people change, and their careers change, you can meet their new network, too.
By staying active on your social media accounts, you also get the added benefit of not just staying in touch, but keeping everyone you know updated on your life. This means that you can let everyone know that you are looking for a job in a particular industry, and it’s as easy as a single post. The more people who know you are looking for a job, the more likely you are to find one, since they can look, too. You no longer have to pick and choose who you stay in contact with, because you never know who might turn up with results.
How to Get the Most out of It
The best way to maximize your job-hunting abilities and your online professional networking is to find the right sites. You don’t need every type of social media account, since that can become a huge waste of time. You only need a few, and you only have to pick the ones you are comfortable with.
Once you are on them, you need to stay active. Look for people you know and grow your network. Post status updates that let people know when you have a new certification, or that you are looking for a job in a specific field.
You also need to make sure your profile information is filled out entirely, including contact information and job preferences, since this is the fastest way for people to find out where you want to work and how to contact you if they find something you might like.
Sites like LinkedIn are meant for professional networking and even allow you to post a portfolio of creative work and upload your resume. This means that employers can search for and contact you if they see your information and think you would fit the job. The more contacts you have, the more employers that will see your information, so make sure to keep expanding your network.
Whatever site you use, make your profile clean and professional to attract the right kind of attention. Upload pictures that show you smiling to let employers know that you are a real person. If you have a personal website, provide links to it.
Why Social Media is Hurtful
As helpful as social media can be, it can be equally as hurtful, if not more so, when used incorrectly. Remember, everyone you know on social media and everyone they know can potentially see your information. This means that when you or a friend post inappropriate pictures, inflammatory posts, or derogatory statements, everyone sees it, and your reputation can suffer.
While you may use social media accounts to stay up to date with friends and to have fun, employers may see them as a way to get to know the real you, for better or worse. If your social media account seems unprofessional, you may give employers the wrong impression, and you may not get a job.
Keep in mind that just because someone is not your friend on social media does not mean that it is impossible for him or her to see your information, unless you use the right settings on your accounts. Many employers conduct web searches for job candidates before they hire someone, and what your employer finds may make the difference in whether you get the job or not.
If you tend to make posts with strong opinions or inappropriate comments, you run the risk of offending someone. Keep in mind that employers can also see what your friends post on your pages or write about you. Just because your profile is professional does not mean that employers can’t see what other people post about you.
How to Minimize the Impact
First, you need to check the settings on all your social media accounts. You can’t control what other people say about you, but you can control what other people see. One of the easiest ways to make sure that any content associated with your name is appropriate and professional is to change the settings on your accounts to private. Lock images, posts, mentions, and everything else to anyone who isn’t your friend, and make sure that it isn’t open to friends of friends, since they can see your information, too. This means that if anyone is searching for you, they may see that you have a profile, but they can’t see anything you don’t want them to. Delete tags of unflattering pictures or set your options to only let people tag photos once you have approved them.
If you are friends with potential employers on social media accounts, many sites also let you set the way certain people see your site. If a friend makes an inappropriate comment, you can set it so that your potential employer can’t see it.
You need to make sure that when you do allow people to see your profile, that it shows a professional image and that your information is in line with your industry. If you are looking for a job in banking, but your profile says you are in journalism, you need to change it to be consistent. You also need to ensure that your resume on sites like LinkedIn matches the one you submit on applications. This means that you will have to take time to keep your profile up to date, so make it a priority to change your profiles whenever your life changes.
Keep your profile pages uncluttered with games and strange images. Keep unprofessional posts off your page, and you should be fine.
You should do web and social media searches for yourself regularly to ensure that nothing unprofessional comes up. Recheck your profile privacy settings often, since choices change, and you want to keep settings up to date. You should also post often to keep your information current.
If you feel that you cannot maintain a well-updated and professional profile for any reason, either delete your account or change the name on your account so that employers cannot see it.