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We’ve all heard those cautionary tales of social media posts that cost someone a job. Maybe it was an angry tweet typed in the heat of the moment that led to an uncomfortable conversation with HR or a less-than-professional Instagram account that took a candidate out of the running. So, it’s fair to be concerned that your social media presence can hurt your career, but it can also give it a boost if used correctly.
You can use your social media presence to show off your skillset, make new connections and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry — all of which can help you land a new job, get promoted or score a big client. Here’s how.
Finding New Opportunities
After graduation I pursued a career in marketing, but always had a passion for writing. I wanted to follow my favorite publications, editors and writers on social media for fun, but I soon realized that these accounts were also sharing job opportunities.
My first big freelance writing gigs came from openings I first saw on Instagram. Brands don’t just use their social media accounts to promote their products; they also use them to build relationships with their fanbase. By posting job opportunities on their social channels, they’re ensuring that their applicants are already familiar with and interested in their brand.
Another bonus: Since social media is updated in real time, you’re likely seeing the listing as soon as the position becomes available. And since (let’s face it) we’re always on our phones, you can find out about your dream job sooner than if you were only checking their career page or job board.
We use social media to promote the better aspects of our lives every day. Why not focus on how your career is perceived instead of your recent vacation? You can bet a potential employer is checking your accounts when considering you for a position, so take the opportunity to flaunt your professional talents.
You don’t have to be active on every social media channel; the key is finding the right ones to showcase your skills and expertise. A curated Instagram feed can serve as a portfolio for your photography or graphic design work. Or remind your finance-industry network how in-the-know you are by starting conversations on LinkedIn. If you’re not sure where to start, look at what channels your peers or mentors are using and think about which ones can best highlight your skills.
If you’re worried about overwhelming your followers with constant updates or sounding braggy, consider creating a posting schedule, like once a week or a monthly recap. And don’t be afraid to share your work struggles in addition to the successes.
Enhancing Your Expertise
You may not equate social media with learning, but brands and thought leaders often share educational content with their audience through these platforms. Following accounts relevant to your industry can help you stay on top of the latest trends, news and skills.
From sharing articles to posting videos or hosting Q&A sessions, brands want to establish themselves as leaders — which provides the perfect opportunity to enhance your own expertise (at no cost to you). You stay on top of industry news and also meet like-minded individuals.
You can send as many invitations as you want on LinkedIn, but you’re never guaranteed a true connection. Beginning organic conversations with people and brands you admire on social media can be better done on other channels. Who are the big names in your industry? Are they active on social? Can you respond with a thoughtful comment to one of their recent work-related posts? Can you send them a direct message with a link to an article you think they’d like?
I once jumped into a heated conversation happening in the comments section of an Instagram post of a brand I admired. I felt that the point they raised in a recent article was valid, while many other users were enraged by it. I had a brief, but carefully thought-out, discussion with the brand in the comments. Next thing I knew, I had an email from their editorial director in my inbox, asking if I’d be interested in writing for them. I’ve never had that kind of success with a LinkedIn message, but by engaging elsewhere, I converted a connection to a career move.