Using Social Media to Improve Your Employability
As social media becomes ever more influential, it is understandable that employers will use it as a research tool to vet job applicants, potential employees and conduct talent searches.
While LinkedIn remains a digital heavyweight when it comes to employability, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and even YouTube offer jobseekers the opportunity to sell themselves in new and innovative ways. With various platforms to showcase skills, experience and connect with potential employers, social media means job hunting has evolved beyond posting resumes to companies and waiting for a response. Prospective candidates can now show their employability beyond a resume or reference, using images and video to stand out in their chosen field.
With that in mind, here is how social media can help you break into your chosen industry – alongside several other things to be wary of in our growing digital world.
While building a productive LinkedIn profile can take some time, it does offer the best professional rewards. Ensure you have a professional profile picture, sell your skills and experience and ensure your uploaded resume is polished to appeal to prospective employers and head hunters in your desired industry. If you’re starting a job search fresh from university, reach out to internship contacts and respected tutors and department heads from your university for recommendations and endorsements; endorsing and recommending others will often encourage peers to return the favour. Update your profile as often as you can – and if you receive a private message from a potential employer or recruitment agency, don’t delay in responding – you never know where it might lead.
Google+ may still be catching up in the social media stakes, but it still offers networking opportunities – with the added advantages of its Hangouts and instant messaging tools. If you already use Gmail, setting up a Google+ account is simple and offers a second global platform from which you can sell yourself – without the personal connections that may plague your Facebook and Twitter timelines.
There’s disclosure… then disaster
No employer is expecting a squeaky-clean, bed by 9pm Facebook or Twitter profile from candidates. The two platforms are primarily used to stay connected with friends, share experiences and social events and open a window into your day to day life – so a picture from happy hour or a comical selfie with a mate doesn’t result in backlisting. That said, it’s important to bear in mind that prospective employers will look you up – and even if your privacy settings are solid, if your profile picture shows you drunkenly passed out on the high street it’s going to raise an eyebrow. Just as if your Twitter account is filled with streams of sweary, angry tweets directed at politicians or retweets of extreme political views – right or left – you could paint yourself into a corner before you’ve even applied for a role.
Before posting, sharing or retweeting, take a moment to consider how your profile would be viewed by a stranger, and what picture you paint of yourself. Show personality – but keep it respectable.
The beauty of sites like Instagram and YouTube is the creative freedom they allow with no cost to the user. If you aspire to work in a creative industry, show what you can do – multimedia organizations will respond to candidates who can prove they have the skills to produce a sharp video or take stunning images. Subscriber and follower numbers, even if small, prove you have something to offer that people are actively engaging in – and the broader the range of media, the more varied and detailed picture of yourself you can paint for prospective employers.