How you can use social media to further your career

Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images
Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images

But if you’re using these networks only to share selfies and lament your bae’s poor choice of Valentine’s Day offerings, you’re missing out on a world of opportunities.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar platforms let us stay in touch with friends, frenemies and colleagues, but they’re also a goldmine of potential career-advancing resources – if used properly. Once upon a time, in the dark ages before smartphones, networking meant mingling with your peers, bosses and potential employers at business functions.

You made sure your business card made its way into the right pockets and focused on that all-important first impression. That’s still one way to get yourself noticed, but the global reach of social networks allows you to sell yourself long before you step into the lobby of your new employer’s building.

Here’s how to make social networks work for you.

BE A PRO

Yes, it’s your Facebook/Insta/Twitter/ Snapchat account. And, yes, you can post whatever you like on it. But you wouldn’t impress your boss by showing up at work dressed to party, would you? In the same way you should keep your online profile clean, sober and professional, advises Brenda Bensted-Smith, CEO of Ad Talent.

“Future employers will definitely check [out your online] profiles,” she says. Go through your posts and remove pictures or posts you wouldn’t want a future employer to see. If you’re not sure, ask yourself, “Would Gogo approve of this picture/statement?” No? Delete.

GO PUBLIC

Recruiters and potential employers use social media to source suitable candidates and to check them out prior to meeting them, says Lorna O’Brien of O’Brien Recruitment, who’s been recruiting for 21 years. “The first thing you need to do is log out of all your accounts and Google yourself to see what others will find,” O’Brien says. For most of us there’s probably a fair bit of info out there, from pics to tweets, and it won’t be hard for future potential bosses to find stuff you’d prefer to keep private or forgot you ever posted.

“Potential employers aren’t likely to be impressed if they discover pics of applicants inappropriately clad or drinking and partying every day of the week,” says Tamara Wolpert, general manager of Viv Gordon Placements, a recruitment agency specialising in media. All the experts told DRUM it’s almost guaranteed recruiters and employers will look at candidates’ social media profiles, so keep these at least partially publicly accessible.

If you have to keep it private, accept “follow” requests – but only if your profile is recruiter-friendly and you know the person you’re accepting the request from is legit.

BE YOURSELF

Maintain a mix of content on your pages – write about your line of work, share links to articles about your industry, and be sure to include some personal content to show who you are outside the workplace. Just remember the Gogo rule.

BEWARE . . .

We’ve all heard the stories about people who’ve moaned about their bosses on Facebook and landed in hot water for it. And those peeps who’ve called in sick and then posted Insta pics of the night before the hangover. Basically, you should never rant online, no matter how frustrated you are by your current job or boss.

“Don’t post disparaging remarks, regardless of your reasons for leaving,” Bensted-Smith says. Remember, once something is online it’s out there forever – no matter how private your settings are. And, as they say in the cop shows, it can and will be used against you.

PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE

If you’re hunting for a new job, or breaking out on your own, let people in your networks know you’re on the lookout for new opportunities. However, Wolpert says, it’s not advisable to advertise your availability unless your employer knows you intend to leave – you don’t want to burn bridges.

FACEBOOK

·         Use the “About” section to share highlights of your CV and expertise.

·         Tell your FB fam exactly what you do for a living and ask them for information and advice – help can come from unlikely places.

·         Post featured photos that will highlight your personality as well as your skills in your work-related area.

·         Use the “View as” option to see what your profile looks like to visitors.

·         Company pages on Facebook can be a good resource for news, features and asking questions. Use this to find out more about companies you’re interested in.

·         Post and link to interesting articles about your field. Search for prospective employers and check if you have mutual friends.

·         Ask them to set up an introduction via email.

INSTAGRAM

·         Find people who do the hiring, or who can link you to them.

·         Try searching for hashtags that combine company names and the names of people who work there.

·         Follow people you want to get to know.

·         As this is a visually driven network, you’ll want to post images related to what you’re good at, with hashtags and tags used by influencers in your field.

TWITTER

·         Your bio should include substantial info about you, your abilities, hobbies and interests.

·          Tweet about events and developments in your industry or field, and write and comment on these.

·          Find employers by searching for hashtags like #HR or #hiring #recruiting. Follow the companies or individuals you’re interested in working for, and retweet and engage with them.

·         Tag them in conversations. An increasing number of jobs are posted on Twitter.

·         You can apply to these directly or by following provided links, so follow organisations and individuals of interest.

LINKEDIN

·         LinkedIn is a great tool for recruiters.

·         Make sure your profile is current with a professional photo and a short, punchy overview of yourself.

·         Update your experience, education and skills and get a few recommendations.

·         Recruiters search using keywords so use all the words so your profile will come up as a strong match.

·         It’s handy as you can ask colleagues, suppliers or friends to write a short endorsement for your profile, which boosts your credibility.

·         Connect with people and organisations in the field you work in, or are interested in working in.

·         Follow these companies so you’ll be notified when positions are available