As a job seeker, you probably already know that social media is a powerful tool. Almost all employers are using social media for hiring! Yet, if you’re being honest, there are probably some parts of your social presence that you’ve let slide. And these lapses could be detrimental to your chances in any given job opportunity.
There are so many available social networks today that many of us get overwhelmed. So let’s take it back to foundation and handle the basics that will ensure a strong social presence that serves your career without stressing you out. Tackle the four tasks below and you’ll have a manageable plan for professional social media mastery.
Know your story: create a consistent personal brand
Don’t do anything with your social profiles until you know what story you want to tell about your career and your job search. If you’re not clear about who you are as a professional, it will show online. So start by writing down answers to key questions:
- What kinds of things do I do well? What are my key skills?
- What have I accomplished so far in my career?
- What’s my ideal next job? Think about the job title and describe the work.
Use this information to craft a paragraph that describes your personal brand. All you need are a few sentences that will give employers an idea of who you are and what you can do for them! Include a summary of who you are as a professional, list your top two skills and how you’ve used them to accomplish your goals in the past, and explain what you want to do next.
Document exactly what you want your story to be, and you’ll use these messages to create consistency across your social profiles.
Decide on platforms, content, and privacy settings
One major mistake I see job seekers make is they over-commit to online platforms. Don’t join every social network and launch a portfolio and start a blog if you can’t keep them all updated. You know yourself best, so be realistic about what you can do — and keep up with — on social. Quality trumps quantity here, every time. So, choose which platforms where you want to be active, and make a plan for how often you want to post.
Here’s my priority list of social platforms for job seekers, as well as a guideline for how often to post:
- LinkedIn is the gold standard for professional networking online, so prioritize your profile here. Post at least once a month.
- Facebook is important for your searchability, and it’s a growing platform for self-directed groups of professionals to find and share opportunities. Facebook also lists job openings. Post at least once a month.
- Twitter helps you build your professional profile online because you can follow anyone, and show your expertise in your tweets, retweets, and conversations. Post at least once a week.
- Instagram is a great way to showcase your expertise, and your personality, to potential employers. Plus, following companies you want to work for will give you an idea of their culture and help you discover opportunities. Post at least once or twice a month.
And be sure to review your privacy settings! You are able to hide some content that you don’t want employers to see (though these are rarely guaranteed). Many people use Facebook for both personal and professional posts, so they set who can view a post based on its content. While it might seem harmless to post party pics or silly memes, remember that everything you post sends a message, and my general advice is to not post anything that could be embarrassing or damage your reputation.
Tell your story effectively in your profiles
Once you know your story and you’ve decided which profiles you want to commit to, it’s time to audit and update your social profiles with clear, consistent messages. Edit your profile on each platform so that you’re telling the same story on every platform.
This consistency is so important for job seekers! You risk scaring off employers when your messages are inconsistent. Your descriptions shouldn’t be exactly the same on every channel, but they need to support the same foundational story that is your personal brand.
Consistency also applies to your profile photo, and your name. Keep in mind that if you’re present on a social network that you don’t want employers to see, there’s a chance they’ll still find you, and that out-there profile pic or wacky pseudonym could send the wrong message.
Finally, take note of your usernames across social media. You should do your best to be professional and consistent in those as well.
Engage on social platforms. Don’t disappear!
When your message is strong and your profiles are consistent, the final step is to stay engaged. Follow the plan you set for posting updates on each social platform, and if you find yourself slipping, you should reevaluate your plan. An outdated social profile isn’t as bad as an unprofessional one, but it will cast a seed of doubt in an employer’s mind if it looks like you’ve ghosted on your own social presence.
So make it a habit: check your profiles once a week and keep your eyes peeled for interesting, professional content that you can share with your social connections. Before you know it, you’ll be meeting new people, learning about great job opportunities, and showing your professional prowess to potential employers at the same time.