We’ve heard the hype — social media is here to stay, that there’s infinite promise and opportunity in reaching employers and clients online and that establishing yourself as a social-media-guru will ‘set you apart’ from older-generation candidates who have yet to open a Twitter account.
We’ve even heard that putting social media skills on a resume can be a great thing (in most fields).
For recent college grads looking to expand their professional network, websites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can be a great resource to get your foot in the door … if you use them correctly, that is. There are tons of ways to use social media to get ahead of the game, but there are also ways — if you’re not careful — that your social media presence can ultimately threaten your job candidacy before you even get an initial interview.
Tips and tricks that will wow employers
Establish your personal brand
Be aware of your online presence and how you want potential employers to view you. This doesn’t mean embellishing your qualifications — stay genuine and true to yourself — but make sure you highlight what makes you the best candidate.
What’s your most important or attractive feature? What makes you unique? What are you going to offer the company that no one else can? Make sure you address all of these questions from the very beginning!
Sign up for LinkedIn
If you don’t have a profile yet, you should create one now. You never know who’s going to be looking for a job candidate. Keep in touch with your professional contacts by sending them quick messages and letthem know that they’re more than just a name.
Your profile doesn’t have to be kept to a certain length (like the standard, one-page resume), but try to include only relevant information and bullet points so that employers don’t get bored or have to look too hard for what they’re looking for. Be thorough, but also concise.
Create a virtual resume
You will stand apart from the crowd and blow the traditional word-processed resume out of the water. Depending on your respective field, it can be a great way to showcase your creativity. If you have a personal/professional blog, include a link on your profile and direct employers to your creative as well as professional skills.
Utilize social media
Social media platforms are a great way to stay up-to-date with the important people and social figures in your field, as well as the prospective companies and/or clients you’re looking to work for or partner with. Follow them on Twitter, ‘Like’ them on Facebook and get connected to as many professionals as you can through LinkedIn. The more you know about the company you’re looking to work for, the better prepared you’ll be during the interview!
Things to avoid
Minimize personal information
Keep personal information and status updates to a minimum while you’re job searching. It’s always a good thing that employers can see that you’re a normal, social young professional — but they don’t always appreciate surfing through pictures from ‘last night’ or references to happy hour to find the relevant info.
Monitor your ‘friends’
It’s not all about what you post — make sure to keep an eye out for what other people may be posting on your profile. Is it something that you’re not exactly proud of? Politely ask them to take it down so that it’s no longer associated with your name.
Think before posting
Nothing is ever really ‘private’ any more. Once you post something online, regardless of who may have initial access to it, it’s out in the public for more than just your immediate circle to see. Always think twice about what you’re posting and what message you’re sending others.
In short, although social media and professional networking are starting to overlap, there are still clear boundaries that young professionals should keep in mind while searching for a job. It can be an extremely valuable skill to leverage your contacts and to reach people almost instantly, but it should also be closely monitored and controlled to ensure that everything you post online is appropriate and relevant to finding and landing your dream job!
Best of luck, and spend some time online … social media is definitely here to stay.
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