Whether you actively job seeking or not, building your professional profile using social media will extend your professional reach beyond your immediate circle. This could increase the potential career opportunities coming your way.
Social media is the term used for an online platform such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or any other community discussion board, where individuals can post information, exchange ideas and comment.
Organisations have also realized that social media is an effective vehicle for recruitment. They use it to widen their selection pool to a larger community of professionals who possess the expertise they’re looking for.
Here are some of the key social media components that you should consider as part of your career management strategy:
LinkedIn is relevant for all professionals, regardless of whether you work in business, the public sector, charities or the media. Even if your industry tends to recruit using job boards or personal recommendations, LinkedIn provides an easy way to keep in touch with your network and publish your expertise.
• Describe yourself on LinkedIn in a way that’s relevant to the kind of role you’re looking for next, rather than just reflecting where you’ve been. Focus on your achievements – don’t just list factual information about dates and duties.
• Use relevant terminology and keywords so that when recruiters or potential employers search these terms, they’ll find you.
• Your profile is in the public domain so all factual information must be accurate. Prospective employers will check for discrepancies between your CV and LinkedIn profile.
• Include a photo but make sure that it is business appropriate.
• Personal recommendations add credibility so ask your contacts – including your manager, colleagues, and customers – to write about your capabilities.
• Include any other materials that illustrate your skills and achievements, such as videos, PowerPoint presentations, creative portfolios, links to your website, articles, and blogs. This is particularly useful for creative professionals.
• Build your connections online so that you can swap information, ideas, and updates. If you’re interested in a particular company, search through LinkedIn to see if you know anyone working there who can make an introduction for you.
• Use activity updates to remind people of you and what you offer. For instance, share news about any business successes, events or feedback. You can also send out comments or questions on topics to encourage a dialogue with people in your network.
• Join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to you and participate in discussions where you feel you can add a useful perspective and/or want to engage with users. Recruiters, employers, and managers will be members of these groups so this will help you increase your visibility.
Use Twitter to interact with people or organizations you find interesting or useful. Twitter is more informal than LinkedIn but it’s still a great opportunity to promote yourself to potential employers and business contacts.
• As with LinkedIn, you can use Twitter as part of a personal PR campaign to remind people of your expertise, share successes and encourage people to look at your online CV or website.
• You can follow companies or individuals that you’d like to work for and send them messages to start a dialogue.
• Increasing numbers of jobs are posted via Twitter. You can apply to these directly or by following the link provided.
• You can have multiple Twitter accounts but reserve a professionally-oriented one for career purposes. All tweets are public so if you don’t want your personal tweets to be read by a prospective employer then use a pseudonym, and be careful about what you send into cyberspace.
This is increasingly being used by organizations to communicate with staff, customers, and the wider public. Some companies are also using it to recruit and vet potential candidates. On Facebook, the boundaries between the personal and the professional can be very blurred, so make sure that you’re always aware of what information about you can be accessed and by whom.
• Use Facebook to tell your friends and family exactly what you do for a living and ask them for information and advice about your career or job search.
• Company pages on Facebook tend to be a great information resource for news, features and asking questions. Use this to find out more about companies you are interested in.
Other social media sites
Many professional institutes, educational establishments, and media organizations provide an array of online communities for niche audiences to exchange information, advice, and opinions. You can also use YouTube to upload video content or produce a blog to share your commentary on hot topics.
Keep an eye on developments as this is a very fast-moving area and relatively new social media applications, such as Google+, are likely to grow in importance.
Social media has made it easy and acceptable for you to advertise your skills and to connect with others who may be interested in your professional services. If you’re not using it you could be missing out on opportunities to advance your career interests.
Career Predator offers the following advice on how to most effectively use social media to advance your career:
- Develop a compelling online brand for yourself. Your brand should define the areas in which you specialize, distinguish you from others, and persuasively convey the value you can bring and have brought to past employers.
- Use your professional headline to showcase your capabilities. On LinkedIn, the professional headline you craft right below your name is an especially important part of your branding. It should consist of impactful keywords that accentuate the range of what you can do, rather than just state your current job title.
- Position yourself as an expert in your field. Include searchable key words that detail the depth of your experience and skills. Employers not only search for employees on social media sites, but also for solutions to specific problems, and your expertise may be what they are looking for.
- Be on the lookout for any discrepancies between your resume and social media profiles. Dates of employment and other details on your social media profiles must exactly match those on your resume. Potential employers will pick up on any inconsistencies right away.
- Keep your social media profiles up to date. Give meaningful status updates, such as links to your blog, to demonstrate your subject matter expertise. Include your job search in your status updates with your connections.
- Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups that are comprised of people in your profession, industry, as well as targeted employers. Answering questions from group members and commenting on the latest trends is a way to stay current within your profession.
- Include your LinkedIn URL in the signature block of your e-mails. This will encourage people to click on your profile. The more activity in your profile, the higher up you will appear in a search.
- Make sure you have public profile setting so that your LinkedIn profile can be readily found on Google. Adjust your privacy settings to accept InMail, a service that is often used by executive recruiters.
- Devote a Facebook page to your work as a professional, and use this in your job search, in addition to having a separate, personal Facebook page.