How Social Media can Help or Harm your Career
Sam Wilson, November 7, 2016
Do you remember a time when social media wasn’t such a huge part of our lives? A time when if you wanted to know what someone had for dinner you had to ask them, when the winner of a competition or big TV plot twist could remain a mystery until you got the chance to watch your recording on VHS (wow, remember them?!), a time when your Gran had absolutely no idea what happened on your nights out and certainly didn’t have easy access to photographic evidence.
Social media is now ingrained in modern society and there is simply no way of avoiding it. Now, as it has done with almost every walk of life, it has a significant role to play in your career, for better or worse. It’s now up to you to make sure that your career benefits rather than suffers at the hands of social media.
Some may dismiss the stories as myths but trust me, they’re real. There have been countless incidents where candidates job prospects have been harmed by future employers finding undesirable content on their social media accounts.
Whilst many protest that social media should be a safe place where you can express your views and be yourself, the fact is that employers and recruiters have started using it as an integral part of their recruitment processes. Whether it be at the initial application phase, or at the final decision making phase, your social media accounts will likely be found by recruiting managers so they can get a better idea of who you are.
You have control of what they find so make sure you do so. Get your privacy settings working for you so that any pictures or statuses that might not exactly paint the very best picture of you are hidden. Get a profile picture that is ‘employer friendly’ and change your settings so that you have to approve photos before they get posted to your timeline.
Don’t let your personal life interfere with progressing your professional life.
If you can, showcase your talents
Social media provides a platform for people to get noticed and be heard. This isn’t always a good thing (I’m looking at you Katie Hopkins) but can provide you with a real opportunity to boost your employability.
Use your social media platforms to showcase your talents. This could be promoting your design work on Instagram, tweeting blogs and articles you’ve written or putting links to websites you’ve coded on Facebook.
This not only allows potential employers to easily find your work but also demonstrates your passion for your work. This is a big plus!
Get on LinkedIn
LinkedIn continues to become increasingly important in the professional world.
Your LinkedIn profile acts as an online CV and will most likely be the first port of call when an employer is researching you. It’s therefore incredibly important that your profile is up to date with all of your relevant experience.
LinkedIn is also a great place to discover new opportunities. Employers will be advertising their opportunities here, this makes it a constant source of new vacancies.
There are also an increasing number of employers using LinkedIn to actively search for candidates with relevant experience. Making sure that you have an up to date profile that highlights your experience will help get you noticed and could lead to opportunities coming straight to you.
The rise of social media has seen a variety of channels of communications open up to job seekers. Those that use them effectively may find themselves on the inside track and an advantage over their counterparts.
Connecting with recruiters in your sector can be a great way to make yourself known to them and get on their radar. Then, when suitable vacancies arise, you’re likely to be on their list of candidates to submit to the employer. This also gives you an opportunity to talk to the recruiter and give a clear idea of exactly the type of role you’re looking for, meaning you’ll only get contacted about relevant opportunities.
Social media also allows the opportunity to build relationships with employers before meeting them. This puts you to the forefront of their minds and can provide a platform from which to build on at your first meeting. This can be done on different platforms; key figures from organisations may well be active on Twitter. Following them and joining their conversations can get your name known and demonstrate your interest and knowledge on key topics. You may also be able to connect with them on LinkedIn, this gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself before an interview.
Social media is there to help you and if done properly you will find that you’re able to build a reputation and working relationships that will genuinely benefit your career. Whilst the advantages are plentiful, you should always act with care. Every time, ask yourself “what are my objectives?”, “in what way will this help me achieve my objectives?” and “what impression of myself am I putting across?”.