Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How Social Media Can Help You Land a Job

     If you thought social media was all about keeping up to date with your personal life then we've got news for you! In today's constantly evolving global business environment, social media provides a visible and creative means to connect with employers and truly brand yourself! This form of self-promotion is a skill that requires practice and a thorough understanding of the different social media channels and their primary functions. Let's take a look at a few social media sites in particular that are most relevant to networking and professional communications.

LinkedIn is essentially a professional networking site that allows you to market your experiences and expand your professional network. It functions as an online resume and helps you get in contact with, and research, important individuals in your desired career field. It is a strictly professional site; therefore, it is suitable to include a custom public URL to your profile on your paper resume. You can also upload personal recommendations on LinkedIn to highlight specific accomplishments and leadership roles that have been a part of your work experience. There is no limit to who you can connect to! Connect with employers, alumni, friends, classmates, and family. We recommend you use the 'jobs; function to search for opportunities that match your individual skill set.

The next social media site we will cover is the ever popular Twitter.com. People often separate their personal and professional twitter accounts, so before you reach out to employers make sure that your personal twitter account is appropriate and professional. If it isn't apply privacy settings to your personal account and develop one strictly for professional use. People primarily use twitter to post text updates or comments, webpage and article links, events, pictures, etc. all under a 140 character limit per tweet. Each post or "tweet" usually contains a theme of the discussion which is written in plain text after a hashtag (#). You can also "retweet" the tweets that people have already posted, favorite others' posts as a display of interest, send direct private messages, and reply to a specific tweet. You choose which companies or friends you want to follow (then their tweets show up on your homepage) and can either approve requests for others to follow you or let others follow you freely. Just be careful what you post publically; all tweets are permanent and searchable on Google. Some best practices include directing tweets at brands or purposes of interest (done by typing @username of brand), retweeting the tweets of companies, or tweeting relevant industry information or article links! The more companies you follow, the more opportunities for interaction you will encounter. So keep an active eye out for the ways in which you can effectively interact with companies and market yourself; being able to communicate a strong message in under 140 characters is simple, yet impressive all the same.

Now we will focus on perhaps the most personal of the top social media channels: Facebook. Unless you have a separate, professional account, Facebook is typically a much more personal and private social profile. Only refer an employer to your Facebook account if it is "Squeaky Clean." This means no inappropriate language, pictures, etc. Facebook offers highly customized privacy options so take the time to understand them and set them up to achieve your professional objectives. Companies often have public fan pages to "like" so that their communications will show up on your newsfeed (homepage). Facebook is an excellent means for engaging in discussions, providing feedback, and staying in the loop when it comes to company initiatives and opportunities. If you are going to interact (which you should), make sure that your contribution is meaningful! Take advantage of what Facebook has to offer, but keep your personal interactions and information minimal in the public eye.

Next up is the highly customized and individualistic personal blog. Blogs are hosted on many different popular platforms such as Wordpress, LiveJournal, Blogger, and Tumblr. While blogs can take on a plethora of different purposes and directions, the same rule applies to separate the professional from the personal. Blogging is a fantastic way to show off your passions, writing ability, personal style, and creativity. Make sure that your content is completely appropriate for an employer; otherwise, make it privately accessible and do not reference it at all. You can also engage with an employer or CEO's blog! You can add interesting and insightful comments, participate in the discussion, and find out some truly unique information about a company's culture and initiatives. Make sure that you regularly follow these blogs of interests either through subscription or by bookmarking them for easy access.

We already know how much time you spend on social media, but now set aside a few hours to change your privacy settings and evaluate/edit their content for professional showcasing. Don't be shy with social media; it is a growing industry with high significance in the business world. It is important to brand yourself, and effectively doing so will give employers confidence in their  interviewing or hiring process. Your online presence may be more or less important depending on the field you are entering (say marketing vs. finance), but regardless, social media could certainly land you the opportunity of your dreams. As long as you utilize your social media channels in a smart manner there is no limit to the amount of fun or networking connections that you can achieve in the process. Social media is a part of your everyday life. Why not make it a productive use of time?


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