(Photo Credit: Richard_of_England/Flickr)
1. Understand the different social media platforms - All social media networks are intended to encourage individuals and communities to engage, share, co-create, and communicate with each other through online forums. But not all social media platforms are created equal. Here is a rundown of the more popular social networking sites and how they differentiate from one another when it comes to career relevance.
Facebook - Build your personal online brand
With approximately 1.2 billion users, Facebook's mission is to "connect people with friends and others who work, study and live around them." (Facebook.com) For employees and job seekers, Facebook can be your best friend or your worst nightmare, depending on how you choose to utilize and protect your usage on the site. It's important to recognize that, in today's day and age, recruiters and employers turn to social media to conduct background checks, search for qualified candidates, and to spy on employees to see what they do on and off the clock. Therefore, keeping a clean rep online is just as important, if not more, as how you portray yourself in person. Sure, Facebook is a place to be social with friends, family, and strangers, but it's also a place for the professional world to keeps tabs on you, so put your best foot forward and refrain from sabotaging your career with careless, inappropriate posts. It only takes one drunken or politically incorrect post to put a bad taste in your current or prospective employer's mouth. Rule of thumb: Don't post content or pictures on Facebook that you wouldn't be ashamed of sharing in a meeting with your boss or employer. Otherwise, make everything on your profile private so your wild side is kept private and out of site of judging eyes.
LinkedIn - Share your resume and network
Known as the top "professional social networking site," LinkedIn is where you want to be if you're interested in growing your career and expanding your network. This social platform connects more than 238 million users worldwide, creating an entirely new and more convenient way for professionals to network with each other online. What differentiates LinkedIn from other social sites is that it caters to a career-oriented population, so a user's profile is more of a resume than a personal bio. Studies show that 97 percent of staffing representatives use social sites for recruiting candidates, which means job seekers are advised to have their LinkedIn profiles complete and highlighting their professional accomplishments if they want to get noticed. Read more about how LinkedIn can help you land your dream job here.
Twitter - Share and micro-blog with the masses
Twitter allows its 200+ million users to follow an individual or brand without having to jump through hoops and get approval to do so. This particular social site is best for quick, immediate updates on breaking news, keeping up with an industry, micro-blogging, and sharing (retweeting) interesting content. Twitter is especially beneficial for job seekers in the sense that users can follow prospective employers, top influencers/leaders, and other professionals, so making a connection or staying current in a given industry is only a click away. Twitter also has searchable hashtags (i.e. #hiring or #apply) that can that candidates can utilize during their job search to see which employers are hiring at any given time.
2. Be active and engage - There's no use in setting up profiles on social networks if you're not going to use them, so sign on and ENGAGE! One way to build your following is to start following and tagging people or brands of interest in your industry. You want your screen name to show up in the right place at the right time, preferably when a recruiter is scouring social media in search for the perfect candidate (aka YOU!). So, be active and engage on social media because that's a surefire way to get your name out there and gain followers/friends.
3. Be professional - A guaranteed way to ruin your chances of landing that dream job is having a recruiter or employer come across a less than favorable post on one of your social media sites, causing them to pass on your candidacy. Be sure to maintain a level of professionalism when you're creating, updating, and maintaining your social profiles because, as we've stressed, it only takes one compromising post to cost you an opportunity.
4. Sharing is caring - One of the easiest ways to gain followers on social networks is by sharing other people's content and hoping you get a "shout out" or a courtesy "follow back" in return. You'll start noticing that, by sharing, you get to tap into other people's communities, thus expanding your own network of followers. It's really as easy as that.
5. Put in your two cents - People want to also hear what you have to say, so don't forget to post original content that parallels your goals and interest. (Just remember to avoid anything offensive or inappropriate.) Social media is also a great way to promote your personal brand, so be sure to share bits of what you're passionate about and things that tickle your fancy. Employers want to hire people they find interest in, not only on a professional level, so utilize your social sites to highlight you as a person and professional.
Using social media effectively will not only expand your professional network, but it can open up new opportunities for your career by helping you make connections that matter. Read more about networking the right way here
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