This post was originally on Linkedin.
We've all heard the horror stories. Losing a job because of your Twitter profile...having an offer rescinded...social media can be a scary thing when you're looking to make a move. If you're starting a job search after some time away from the hunt or re-entering the search for the first time since social media dawned, here are some very basic things you need to know — consider this your social media + job hunting 101.
Basics for the Social Media Job Hunt
Social media has a lot of power to make or break your job search. Studies have shown that 92% of companies are using social media for hiring and three out of four hiring managers check out your social profiles before offering you an interview, The Muse reports.
So start thinking like a social media manager and get to profile optimization. Here are the eight basics (and two advanced tactics) you need to know...
Basic #1: Think About Your Personal Brand
What's your brand? It's that first impression and thanks to the internet, when you meet someone new, they've likely already stalked, or rather, "done their homework" on you and already have an impression of you before they've even met you.
To view yourself through a stranger stalker lens, open a browser in incognito mode, head to Google.com and type your name in the search bar — check out the links, articles, and photos that come up and see what they say about you. This is what the person seeing your resume for the first time is probably going to do, so make sure you like what you see.
Basic #2: Decide on Your Name, Get Your URL
Wait, we haven't even gotten to social media yet! Hold on. We have to do the ground work first...and that's picking a name. You're probably thinking you already know your name, but it's important to decide if you are Larry or Lawrence, Jen or Jennifer in your professional life. You'll want to make sure your names match on things like social profiles, business cards, and email signatures.
Once you've decided, grab your URL and social handles. If you’re serious about your brand, it’s a good idea to purchase your name as a URL, if it's still available, even if you don’t plan on using it. "If your name is long or difficult to spell, this option might not be the best idea—especially if you’re looking for international freelancing work," says Charli Days, a British writer and social media manager. Hence why I don't make you type out my full name to get to my website, the simple KirstenAD will do.
Pro Tip: Make sure your social profile handles are consistent and all the same, if possible. It makes your brand stronger and makes you easier to find. This becomes important as new networks rise up as well, even if you don't think you want to be on Snapchat, it's not the worst idea to secure your username just in case.
Basic #3: Fill Out Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn isn't the sexiest social network, but it's hands down the most important one when it comes to job hunting. With job opportunities, recruiters to connect with, and virtual networking to be had, LinkedIn is a must for anyone who is currently, or may soon be, job hunting.
Your goal? To get that coveted "All-Star" profile rating.
Start by making sure ALL your profile sections are filled out — including those that may seem obscure like "volunteer causes" and "certifications." Then, optimize your profile for searching by using keywords that will draw prospective employers to you. The most important keyword locations are in your title and summary. These words are what will show up in searches.
Here's how to optimize your headline...
Use that blurb of text directly under your name to get a Hiring Manager’s attention ! Don't be like most people and just have your current title and company listed there. That’s a boring default setting.
Instead, write a compelling description, complete with SEO-friendly keywords describing what you can do. If you’re a designer it might say, “Web Designer who turns boring websites into gorgeous money-making machines.” It tells everyone what you do and why they urgently need to contact you. It's okay to have a little fun here.
Here are a couple I like (mine included, obviously)...
Don't forget to create a special, attention-grabbing summary too. Need help writing that? This LinkedIn blog will help.
Basic #4: Get a Professional Headshot
What photo pops up most often when you google yourself? Are your profile photos consistent across all of your professional social sites? Make sure people know that the you they found on LinkedIn is the same you they found on Twitter by using the same, or similar, profile photos — this is especially important if you have a common name.
Your profile picture is one of the most important parts of your social media presence. This little photo pops up everywhere. "It’s your first chance to communicate that you are friendly, likeable, and trustworthy," says LinkedIn publisher Lydia Abbot.
Some quick tips for a good, professional headshot:
- Make Sure it Looks Like You: Make sure people who stalk you online before they meet you know what you look like. Do you wear glasses every day? Wear them in your photo. Lost 100 pounds? Congrats! Now it's time for a new photo.
- Dress Like You're at the Office: Dress like the profession you're in or hope to be in. Pick a flattering color and go easy on the accessories, you want your sparkling personality to be the focus of the photo.
- Fill Up the Frame: A good rule of thumb is to fill up 60% of the photo with yourself. While it's great that you climbed that mountain, I can't tell it's you in the photo. And yes, everyone can tell you cropped your ex-boyfriend out of that shot. Skip complicated backgrounds, other people, and fill the frame with yourself from the shoulders up.
For more photo tips and a slew of things not to do, check out this post: A How-To Guide for Your Perfect Profile Picture
Basic #5: Log In Often, Post Correctly
I've talked a lot about LinkedIn, but no matter which social network you're working on, you should be logging in at least once a week. Social "favors the bold and consistent," to steal a line from Guy Kawasaki, so only opt in to the platforms you truly enjoy. If you hate taking photos, it's okay to not use Instagram. Make sure if you are going to have a presence on a social platform that you use it frequently — engage, like, comment, share posts, and post your own as well.
So what should you post?
Here are four post types you should steer clear of if you're using social for job hunting:
- Drunken Selfies: Keep it classy and you won’t have to worry about getting passed for a job or a long-awaited promotion because someone out there happened upon your profile filled with binge-drinking selfies.
- Political Rants: Even if you go out of your way avoiding insulting people of differing views, it sometimes happens anyway. Being a loose cannon in this way can cost your career, so steer clear.
- Bad-Mouthing Your Job: Even if you have a beef with an employer, keep it off social media. Employers need to know that workplace conflicts won’t become a matter of public record and if you’re constantly bad-mouthing people you’ve worked for, you could be seen as a liability.
- Clickbait: If you post a link called “Getting a Project Done on Time,” it better provide helpful tips on the other side and not take your followers to a page that says, “Hire me and I’ll get your project done on time." This is annoying and will irritate your audience before they consider employing you.
Now what should you post to attract the right kind of attention?
The first thing to understand is the social media rule of thirds. When you're thinking of content to share on your various social platforms, follow this adapted formula from Hootsuite for maximum success:
- ⅓ of your social content should promote yourself, your work, your business, etc.
- ⅓ shares ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses
- ⅓ is personal interactions — liking, commenting, and interacting with your connections
Here are the types of posts that can help you do that:
- Posts That Show You Know Your Field: Skip the extensive Bachelor season finale recaps and be proactive with the majority of your tweets, Facebook posts, and most definitely all of your LinkedIn updates. If you’re looking for work as a designer, share information that lets people know you’re up to speed with current web design trends. Tweet breaking industry news and projects you've been working on, too.
- Posts That Humble Brag: Be your own #1 cheerleader! Don't be overly boastful, but humbly talk yourself up and play to your strengths by showing your knowledge about various facets of your industry. Did you write a great blog for a new client? Share and retweet it.
- Posts That Are (Nicely) Opinionated: Respectfully asserting your opinion on issues relevant to your area of expertise can display that you have working knowledge of your industry. Just make sure to do so respectfully.
Basic #6: Connect with the Right People
If you're looking for a job it's all about networking, networking, networking. Before you start connecting though, think about the type of network you want to build. Do you want to connect with everyone? Only people you know? Only people in your industry? Decide now.
Once you've picked your connection poison, start connecting by uploading your contacts from your email platform and LinkedIn will help you connect. Be a pro though and don't send a generic message to each contact inviting them to connect. Instead, customize your approach by reaching out individually to these contacts.
A word of warning from The Muse though, don't connect with that Hiring Manager, at least not until a decision has been made. Former Muser, Elliott Bell explains: “[The Hiring Manager] is interviewing not only you, but many others, trying to determine who will be the best person for the job and the company. Connecting over LinkedIn before a decision has been made can come off as both pushy and over-confident."
Basic #7: Let Recruiters Know You're Looking
Make sure the world knows you're looking for a new position. Back in 2016, LinkedIn created a feature called Open Candidates — which gives job seekers an easy way to quietly signal that they’re open to new opportunities.
Head to the career interests section and flip that toggle! Get the step-by-step directions in this post by LinkedIn.
Basic #8: Like the Companies You Love
Have a dream job? Always wanted to be in "Puperations" at Barkbox? Follow them! Like them on Facebook and follow them on LinkedIn. Double tap their Instagram photos. This way you'll see what they're up to and know when they're hiring. Plus, says The Muse, "There’s a chance that smaller companies will check to see if you’re a fan on Facebook, just to gauge how excited you really are about the job."
Mastered the Basics?
Mastered the basics of social media? Ready for the next step? Read on!
Advanced #1: Schedule Posts Ahead of Time
Start scheduling your posts like a pro! There are plenty of tools out there to help you schedule and share directly from your browser or phone app. These two beauties make social posting easy and have free and paid versions available:
- Buffer: Helps you control Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn through scheduled sharing in an all-in-one dashboard. One of its best features? The ability to schedule native retweets directly from Twitter.
- Hootsuite: Helps you schedule and plan social posts including link shortening, Instagram, and features multiple image uploading for Twitter. You can also track hashtags and mentions through its dashboard.
Advanced #2: Start Self-Publishing on LinkedIn
Like this! Hello 👋👋👋 Get your voice out there. The truth is that everyone wants to hire a thought leader these days. Anna Julow Roolf of BLASTmedia, says, "LinkedIn stands out as a self-publishing platform because of its capability to help users showcase expertise to relevant and interested audiences."
Now Go Get That Job with Your Fabulous Social Media!
You got this!
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Want to see more of my social media musings? Follow me on Twitter: @Kirsten_AD
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