Social media. We think we know how to use it: set up an account; upload a profile picture; add the occasional photo and video. Can any of these actions further your career prospects? Yes and no.
There’s no doubting it: employers and HR managers inspect what the expect and do so by checking social accounts – yes, more than just your LinkedIn profile – with email addresses that they receive from job applications.
And not just your LinkedIn profile—most of them will also click any public social network links that are floating around. But don’t panic. Here are five tips for boosting your social networks to give your career a competitive edge.
1. Be your own brand
Social media allows us all the opportunity to show the world the person we want the world to see. With well-placed status updates, good images and video and the right tone and engagement, you can cultivate an online image.
First things first: always, always, _always _use your full name as your handle for vanity URLs. Always. As a person, there no more identifiable brand name that you will have than your own name.
What do social images, for example, tell us? Well, showing off new hobbies such as a new musical instrument, video captured at a go kart track…all of these portray a person who, outside of the office, is open to new things and has interests outside of their chosen field.
2. Keep it professional
The golden rule of social? Think before you post. If you’re using social media channels to build a professional profile, pictures and vines of you downing a drink at a party or posts featuring you in faux-risque poses probably isn’t the way to go.
Can an employer fire you for posting content that they think inappropriate? Well, there aren’t any open and shut cases that make that one clear. However, it’s easier for a potential to dismiss any idea of employing you based on an image or video they may have seen of you, online.
3. Engage with others
On Twitter, you can follow all the right pages and, Facebook, you can ‘Like’ all the pages applicable to the industry in which you have an interest. What happens next? Well, nothing, unless you make the first move.
Aspiring journalists often use Twitter and Facebook to comment on stories, share funny headlines that they’ve found in papers and online; designers often share engaging new tips and tricks that they’ve learning in software such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign; lawyers in making will often blog and share views on whatever cases are before the courts and reported on in the press.
In short: engage in a way that your passion is visible.
4. Show off your interests
To give employers a vital portrait of who you are, show off your interests: in words, in pictures, in video and leverage towards platforms that, in some way, are vital to your chosen industry. Video and image hosting platforms, for example, are playing a vital part for tourist industries, who will often retweet and repost snaps that people have taken while in a town or city and search for these images using hashtags.
5. Treat it like email
As professional as you’d like to portray and project your social networks, do have fun and treat it as you would email. Always, however, use correct grammar and punctuation: a great tip is to install Grammarly, which is half the battle in ensuring that your public correspondence – tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts – are free of any embarrassing, schoolboy errors. Any jobs that might require some degree of client-facing particularly rely on excellent written and interpersonal skills: how you project yourself on social media, whether rightly or wrongly, gives employers an idea of how you might project yourself in emails and, more crucially, in personal meetings.