Using Social Media Professionally Might Just Help You Land Your Dream Job
We’ve all heard the horror stories about social media: you know, the ones where someone writes something inappropriate or posts images on Twitter or Facebook that end up being seen by a prospective employer. For this reason, we’re often told about the ways it can sabotage our careers but what if we could use it for good? By using social media platforms in the right way, there’s no reason why they can’t be used to help put our best foot forward and actively advance our careers.
‘Absolutely,’ says career expert Anna Percy-Davis. ‘Social media can be extremely helpful for forwarding your career prospects and can serve as a great resource for progressing in certain industries. It’s just something you can’t afford not to be involved in these days.’
Whether you’re actively job seeking or not, building a professional profile using social media will extend your network beyond your immediate circle, increasing the potential opportunities that could come your way. Where in the past we all relied on job postings to reach out to employers for roles, social media also allows us to truly connect with recruiters and decision makers directly. And thanks to both company and employer profiles on social, we now have access to more information than we ever would have before.
‘There’s so much information we can access now,’ Anna says. ‘Social media can be a great way to get a better sense of an employer. With platforms like LinkedIn, you can get a sense of who their employees are, who rates them and more general business updates. Even a company not having a social media platform can prove useful in telling you a bit about how forward thinking (or not) they are.’ As a result, it makes it easier to truly tailor job applications according to the company and if you do get to the interview stage, it helps make sure you go in armed with a strong understanding of what you’re getting into.
The problem with social media, though, is not what you can find out about others but rather what others can discover about you so naturally, using it professionally comes with basic rules. ‘Never post any image or comment with pausing first – spur of the moment comments or pictures don’t go away,’ Anna says, and she has a point. These days, recruiters are always on the look out for risks a candidate could pose so joking about pulling a sickie or posting a controversial image can work against you. ‘If you have posted something in the past that worries you, it’s probably best to deal with it with a prospective employer up front,’ Anna advises. ‘If it’s something that comes up when you’re name is searched, it’s worth coming up with a good explanation as to why did it. Try and turn it into a positive to show you have guts and charisma or at least that you’ve learned from your mistake.’
What happened to self-expression, right? Should we all really have to think so hard about whether something we tweet or post on Facebook will come back to haunt us? Well, the quickest answer is, yes. We’re not suggesting you stop posting personal things on your social channels – it’s just about being savvy about what you post and who might see it. If you want to post unencumbered, simply put your privacy settings on but of course, if you’re trying to use social media platforms to boost your profile, adding a privacy block will defeat the point. It’s worth Googling yourself monthly, just to see what comes up and whether you need to crank up on the security on certain areas.
Remember, it’s not a witch-hunt. Recruiters will use social media to look for the best candidates possible and not as a way to catch you out. Platforms like LinkedIn are being used more and more as a way of discovering great candidates who may not have seen a job vacancy but whose experience is perfect for a role. That’s why it’s so important to have a presence – just being on these platforms will open your exposure to opportunities that could help propel your career. It might not happen overnight but with time, we promise you’ll notice a difference.