Staying employable on social media
As the world moves evermore online and personal and professional relationships become more reliant on digital channels, it’s becoming increasingly important to think about how you can best make use of social media in finding and keeping employment.
We’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of social media in your career, and also how to keep yourself safe and avoid any risks.
First things first: let’s stay safe.
There are a lot of sensitive topics out there right now and a lot of media coverage of people losing jobs over social media posts. This happens because businesses dedicate a lot of time and effort into crafting and presenting their organisational values and cultures. From a business’ perspective, when an employee publicly states something potentially controversial that does not align with their organisational values, there is a real risk that the business could take reputational damage.
It’s important then that you consider your employer’s values before you share anything on social media that might not match up, especially when you’re using social media for professional purposes. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t post anything that your company wouldn’t, but it’s about finding that balance between representing your employer and yourself as an individual.
It’s best to err on the side of caution and, if in doubt, check your employer’s social media policy or book in a chat with whoever is responsible for communications at your organisation to seek some advice.
LinkedIn: your virtual address book
LinkedIn is the go-to professional social networking site. A common misconception is that LinkedIn is purely an ‘online CV’. Whilst this is certainly an important part, LinkedIn is so much more than that!
Historically, professionals kept a phone book of professional contacts. This was great but it took a lot of time to stay in touch and keep those contacts ‘warm’ – you’d have to ring around regularly and schedule catch-ups to maintain those relationships so that, if ever you needed one another, you could comfortably ask.
LinkedIn does a lot of that for you and more. The wonderful thing about LinkedIn is that, while it will never be a full substitution for face-to-face relationship building, as a social networking platform it allows you to see much more easily what your contacts are up to, to share what you’re up to and to have friendly interactions to keep your professional relationships active.
Comment, comment, comment. LinkedIn is just as much about keeping yourself informed on your own network as it is about selling yourself. Interacting with your network is a double-whammy – comment on your contacts’ posts to stay in the loop but also gently remind people you’re still around and still eager to stay in touch. Someone been promoted? Congratulate them. Someone looking for work? Share their post. Someone written a blog? Read it and give them some positive feedback. All of this interaction will bump up the chances of others doing the same for you – it’s all about building positive professional relationships.
Add people you don’t know if you want to – but only if you feel you’ve something in common. Have you spotted someone on LinkedIn who you’ve never met but does a very similar job in the same sector and you’d like to network with them? Reach out and grow your network but – and this is the important bit – never send a cold request. Always introduce yourself and give a little explanation as to why you’d like to connect.
- Give more than you ask for. Once you’ve built an active network, you can think about the type of content that you put out. Think about things that are relevant to your sector – it might be news stories, articles, positive anecdotes from your job. The main thing here is that the contributions you make should outweigh the requests that you make – too many asks and people will get sick of you! But the bigger the presence you have and the more friends you make, the more likely it is that people will recognise your name and think of you when opportunities arise.
Twitter: the whole world at your fingertips
Twitter is a brilliant tool for keeping yourself informed on what’s happening in the profession that you’re interested in.
Twitter is a very fast-moving social media platform so a lot of content is being pushed out at all times. This means there’s a wealth of new information out there. Similarly to LinkedIn, it’s great for networking and forming professional relationships but, instead of being predominantly for your own network, it’s more public and is geared more towards broader sectors and communities.
Forbes have created a really great article on how to use Twitter to find a job but we’ve popped some tips below too.
Present yourself professionally. In your bio, pop a few words to explain your professional background, e.g. ‘Marketer with 5 years’ agency experience.’ To stay safe, it’s also worth including that little disclaimer you often see: ‘The views on this profile do not represent the views of my employer.’ If you’ve got LinkedIn, why not pop a link to your profile in there too?
Follow and Retweet. As mentioned, the great thing about Twitter is that there are so many people out there. Have a think about the type of organisations you’d like to work for and the people who could provide relevant information and insight. Follow, retweet and comment to make yourself visible and to start forming those relationships in the spaces you want to be.
- Share and reach out. Like LinkedIn, think about the content you’re putting out. Is it appropriate to mention anyone using their handle in the Tweet to draw attention to it? This can help make your content more visible. Twitter is also great for reaching out to people with questions, either publicly or privately. Have a question or want some career advice? Reach out – someone will be happy to help!
Facebook: joining communities
Whilst Facebook is much more of a personal social media channel, it would be wrong not to give groups a quick mention.
On Facebook, there are thousands of groups dedicated to profession-specific communities. Often private groups, they offer a platform for professionals to seek advice, post jobs and share best practice so it is always worth searching for one in your specialism and keeping your eye on it.
Once you’ve settled in and you can see what people use the group for, start answering questions if you can – chances are you’ll have experience of something that someone else doesn’t. The more you answer questions, the more contacts you’re building and the bigger your presence within your sector will be. And when someone does post a job that you like the look of, if you’ve been staying active in the group, your name might be recognised by the recruiter!
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With a bit of time, thought and a proactive approach to networking, there’s a lot you can do to make the most of social media in your career. But with social media comes genuine risk, so it’s important be cautious and try your best to think about how your employer might receive your content before you post it.
Find out more about our Social Media Screening Check so that you can fully understand what employers are looking out for and avoid the pitfalls that could cost you the job!