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Social Media Do's and Don'ts for Professionals and Job Seekers

Professional Social Media Etiquette

While embarrassing photos and the occasional rant happen to us all, putting them front and center on social media isn’t always the best idea. Not knowing how potential employers will react can spell trouble for job seekers.

After all, studies show that 70% of employers review applicants social profiles during the hiring process. Sending the wrong message can mean getting passed over (even for otherwise highly-qualified applicants).  

Your best bet? Keep it clean.

It’s fine if you showcase your personality and have some fun but stay away from divisive or offensive content that may rub others the wrong way. Politics and religion are classic examples, but they’re far from the only ones.

Gossiping, badmouthing former employers, talking about drug use or criminal activity - it seems like a “no-brainer” but these topics surface more often than you think.

If you can’t keep it clean, consider making your social profiles “private.” Employers and recruiters can still find you during searches but must request permission to view your account. Thus, putting you in control of who has access and what remains visible to the outside world.  

Besides what you post, consider the image you’re trying to convey.

Keep your “branding” consistent by using the same image, language, and messaging on all of your accounts. This proves to employers you are who you say you are and helps to put hiring concerns at ease.

Another great idea is to create a website and bring all your information together in one place. Thus allowing you to control the narrative and help guide the conversation.

Include links to your social profiles to make the vetting process easier (and minimize the risk of mistaken identity).

That and use your real name on social media. CakeSmasher21 sounds cute but makes it hard for others to take you seriously.

The Best Social Media for Professionals

While the term “social media” encompasses nearly every platform in existence, there is only a handful that job seekers need to focus on - LinkedIn being the biggest.

LinkedIn is considered the gold standard for jobs and career development. It’s the only platform dedicated to networking and bringing candidates and employers together.

With roughly 10 million jobs and 500 million users located around the world, why wouldn’t you want to be part of the conversation?

Although having a LinkedIn profile is a given, many job seekers fail to utilize the full potential of the platform. Here are a few quick tips to help you stand out.

  • ‍Keep Your Account Up to Date - which includes filling out a complete profile and staying active on the site. Contributing articles is the best strategy, but if you can’t, at least share and comment on other people's posts.

    The idea is to show employers your communication skills and personality.

  • ‍Include Keywords - in both your headline and summary area. Keywords are what recruiters and employers use to search for potential candidates. Not including them in your profile is silly if you want to be found.  

    Also, make sure your headline is interesting and relevant to the jobs you’re looking for. Consider including a nice profile photo as well - one without your spouse, kids, or family pets (save those for Facebook). Think “professional” for these are often the first - and only - elements others see in search results.

  • Get Recommendations - which are LinkedIn’s version of testimonials. Adding social proof to your profile is an easy way to earn trust and build rapport with potential connections.

    A quick tip here is to write the testimonial yourself and let others edit or revise as they see fit. Doing so makes it easy for the other party to say yes and fulfill your request.

Finally, write your profile in the first (not third) person. Users often try to make themselves sound more impressive this way, but it typically just comes off as contrived or awkward.

Write the way you speak to humanize your story.  

Other Social Media Outlets for Job Seekers

Although LinkedIn gets top billing in this category, other social media outlets hold value for job seekers as well. Namely, Facebook and Twitter.  

Both have distinctly different flavors but are similar in how they encourage direct interaction. These two social outlets are a great way to share your personality by talking about hobbies and interests. Because most employers prefer well-rounded talent vs an army of boring robots.

A proven strategy for success is to follow companies (and key employees) that you’re interested in working with. Doing so gives you access to decision makers within these organizations you might never meet otherwise.

You also learn news and gain insight into company cultures that outsiders may not be aware of. Such information can be invaluable in deciding where you want to work and provides a nice advantage when it comes time to interview.

And just like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can be used for job searches too. Just remember to include the right hashtags in your searches to generate relevant results (i.e. #jobs Denver marketing).

Finally, no matter which social platform(s) you choose, be sure to let others in your network know that you’re looking. You never know who a friend of a friend might be.

Besides, landing jobs through referrals is way easier than trying to accomplish the same feat on your own.

Conclusion

While some may shy away from social media - or dismiss such platforms as being irrelevant - they are an undeniable part of the job search equation. More than ever, employers are researching candidates long before conducting interviews or extending offers.

If they don’t like what they find, they’ll look elsewhere

That’s why it's critical that the messages and “branding” of your social profiles reflect the image you want to portray. Candidates should also be active on social channels always looking for opportunities to connect and provide value to others.

In the end, social media skills are a lot like interviewing. Figure out how to stand out from the crowd - without putting your foot in your mouth during the process.  

What’s been your experience with social media and job searches (either good or bad)? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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