Long gone are the days of changing your name on Facebook to an obscure pseudonym (e.g., your first and middle name, your first and mother’s maiden name, your first name followed by your dog’s name) in order to deter potential employers from finding your profile. As social media becomes a permanent fixture in our world, it’s time to reconsider how social media impacts your job search. Here are two strategies you can use to leverage social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) for finding a job.
Using Social Media to Showcase Your Personal Brand
Employers are probably going to find your profiles anyway, so you might as well embrace your profiles as an opportunity to showcase your personal brand: your best “you.” Before you binge delete photos or Facebook posts, check out Facebook’s guide on privacy settings and adjust your privacy settings accordingly. This way, you can choose what the public sees on your profile. That said, you don’t want to go as far as making yourself completely invisible. Your profile is certainly not your resume, but it still leaves an impression. Make sure your profile picture is professional, and, if you have any, list your previous work experience in your “About” section.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter is less about a profile and more about the content you’re putting out and the interactions you have with other people. As jobs in fields like social media and digital journalism are on the rise, some employers are beginning to care more about their job candidates’ Twitter presence. Don’t be surprised if you find a job description with “active Twitter profile” as a requirement! Other industries may not be as interested in your tweets, but if you want to go into these fields, you’ll want to amp up the activity on your profile. This can be as simple as posting meaningful tweets about your professional interests or following news outlets and industry leaders. Don’t wait until you are asked for a Twitter profile on a job application to start Tweeting. You need to invest time now to build up a history on Twitter. It’s not something you can create at the last minute.
As for LinkedIn, this is the ultimate venue for putting your brand on display. Even if you don’t have that much previous work experience, having an optimized profile will look good to employers. Starting with the basics, you’ll need a professional photo and an engaging, descriptive headline (more tips on those here). Beyond that, don’t forget that LinkedIn is now about more than just work experience. You can now include information on your interests, causes you care about, skills, and projects you’ve worked on as a volunteer. If used to its full potential, your profile can give an employer a more well-rounded look at you — think of it as an extension of your resume, except this doesn’t have to be one page!
Using Social Media as a Tool
Now that we’ve seen how social media can work for your personal brand, let’s talk about how social media can be used for the nitty gritty of job search: actually finding jobs. The first step is to find companies that you would consider working for. You don’t have to apply — just make a list of companies that spark your interest. Once you have your list, find their careers sites (usually a link on their main websites, on navigation bars or under the “About Us” section at the bottom of the page). On these careers sites, you may be able to find the company’s careers pages on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. At the very least, you’ll find corporate social media pages (not careers specific). As employers are realizing the importance of social media in recruitment, they have been improving their careers-specific social media channels.
Remember to “Like” and “Follow” these pages that you find — it may surprise you how handy these resources can be! Some companies use these pages to post job postings, so you’ll want to stay updated. Plus, this is a refreshing alternative to sifting through endless pages on job boards (though not a replacement!). Beyond that, though, social media career pages are a great resource for learning about a company: about its culture, the people that work there, and the latest news. Even if you end up not applying to a certain company, their careers page could be a gateway to another company in the same industry that may suit you better.
With the use of social media continuing to expand, don’t get left behind — consider these simple steps in using your social media presence to your advantage.