Written by: Emily Young // Dec 27, 2019
Last updated: Jan 17, 2023
Here’s the deal: If you want to advance your career, you need to be on social media. Number one, it’s the only way you can see Pumpkin the Raccoon eating blueberries and Juniper the Fox breaking into the family fridge. This is, obviously, critical to your employment.
Number two, social media offers you an incredible chance to network with industry leaders, build your brand, and create an online resume that will attract potential employers. That may sound overwhelming, but don’t worry, it’s much easier than you think. Keep reading to learn how to leverage social media for better career opportunities.
Create an Online Presence
Employers want you to be on social media. “According to a CareerBuilder survey from 2017, around 70 percent of polled employers screen a candidate’s social media accounts before bringing them in for an interview. That same poll also found that over 50 percent of employers found candidates with no social footprint problematic,” according to this New York Times article.
You don’t have to be on every social media platform, but you should at least be active on LinkedIn and Twitter, and you need a website. Let’s dive deeper into each of these:
“It is critical to have a presence ... on LinkedIn,” says Kelli Burns, associate professor at USF’s Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications and author of Social Media: A Reference Handbook. Before reaching out to potential contacts on LinkedIn, make sure you have the basics:
- A professional profile photo. Steer clear of group shots or selfies; aim for a photo where “the background is simple, your face is shown clearly, and you're in casual business attire,” suggests this Business Insider article.
- A professional headline below 120 characters. This tells potential contacts who you are.
Once you have the basics, it’s time to optimize your LinkedIn profile for career opportunities.
- Treat your profile like an online resume: Add your work history, education, volunteer experiences, and areas of expertise. (This CNBC article shows you how to fill out the perfect profile.)
- Create a unique URL which you can include on your business card.
- Update your profile with your latest certifications. (USF’s CTPE programs offer digital badges you can feature.)
- Write an “About” section that includes industry terms. Diana Prado, a media strategy manager at USF, says it’s important to use the right keywords because “that's how you come up when people are looking to … hire someone.”
- Check LinkedIn at least once a week so you can accept invitations from other professionals who want to connect with you.
- Include links to your Twitter profile and website.
Now that you have a polished profile, use LinkedIn to make valuable connections. For example, you can join groups that are specific to your industry, Prado says.
“I do encourage Twitter for networking,” Burns says. “I think it's really the best place to network with professionals in your field.” Here are a few tips to establish yourself on Twitter:
- Remember that high-quality, professional photo you uploaded for your LinkedIn profile? Use the same one for your Twitter. A consistent photo across all platforms will help people connect your name to your face, Burns says.
- Write your bio. That can be tricky in such a small space, but these templates will help you make the most of your 160 characters.
- Follow thought leaders in your field. Comment on their tweets and retweet them.
- Contribute to the conversation by posting articles and commentary about your industry.
- Share personal (but appropriate) content, such as a photo of your recent graduation.
- Don’t forget to include links to your LinkedIn profile and website.
Your Personal Website
Some employers will request your website URL when you apply for a job, which means it’s essential to have a site that’s up and running. Plus, a website gives you a competitive edge: It helps you showcase your work, tell your story, and build your brand. You’ll find it easy to create one on WordPress.
Avoid Posting Inappropriate Content
Before you post something, ask yourself how you’d feel if a potential employer saw it. Even if your account is private, “you don't know who a recruiter knows,” Burns says. You could be just one mutual friend away from losing a job opportunity.
So, what is inappropriate content, exactly? This CareerBuilder study lists the main reasons employers rejected a candidate because of social media:
- Posting provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39 percent
- Posting information about themselves drinking, or using drugs: 38 percent
- Posting discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion: 32 percent
- Bad-mouthing a previous company or fellow employee: 30 percent
- Lying about qualifications: 27 percent
- Displaying poor communication skills: 27 percent
- Linking themselves to criminal behavior: 26 percent
- Sharing confidential information from previous employers: 23 percent
- Posting an unprofessional screen name: 22 percent
- Lying about an absence: 17 percent
- Posting too frequently: 17 percent
Although political content doesn’t make this list, it’s something you should carefully consider before posting, especially during an election year (hello, 2020!). If you do choose to talk politics on your social media, follow this article’s advice to navigate potential pitfalls.
Find Jobs Using Social Media
Good news: This is a job-seeker’s market, and companies are locked in a war for talent. You can position yourself for success with these social media tips:
- On Twitter, follow job search hashtags like #JobListing or #JobOpening, suggests U.S. News & World Report. You can also search for hashtags that are specific to a brand, a company, or your field (such as #MediaJobs).
- Identify companies that interest you, follow their profiles, and engage with their content.
- If you’re interested in a company, look at their employees’ LinkedIn profiles to see if you have any connections. “When reaching out to new people, introduce yourself and explain you are interested in learning more about the contact's position and company and ask for an informational call or meeting,” explains this CNN
Research Companies Using Social Media
Congratulations, you’ve landed an interview! Now you can use social media to research your potential employer:
- Look at your interviewers’ profiles before you meet them, Burns suggests. Do you have a common interest, a mutual friend, or a shared professional association? Try to find a point of connection that you can bring up in the interview. They’ll be impressed that you did your research.
- Explore the company’s social presence to get a sense of its culture. U.S. News & World Report recommends you “look at the posts and how the company responds to questions or comments.”
- Read reviews on sites like Glassdoor. If you notice the company gets bad feedback about a certain issue – like a micromanaging supervisor – you can make a note to discreetly ask about this during your interview. (For the case of the micromanaging supervisor, Prado suggests you simply ask something like, “Can you describe your management style?”)
Use Social Media to Expand Your Knowledge
You have access to “a wealth of information on social media,” Prado says. Take advantage of the resources shared by your colleagues and make yourself a more well-rounded, well-informed candidate. Or at least follow this animal friendship between a tiny owl and a Belgian Malinois.
Start expanding your network now: Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn. Questions about advancing your career? We’re always happy to discuss our professional development opportunities. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 813-974-0950.