How to use social media in your job search
It turns out, social media isn’t just for socializing. Career experts answer some commonly asked questions about using social media for your career.
Social media is deeply integrated into most of our personal lives, but it can also be a powerful job search tool, no matter where you are in your career. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 84% of organizations use social media for recruiting, and 9% plan to use it—so if you don’t have some kind of social presence, you’re likely missing out on opportunities.
But the social media landscape is also a confusing world. Do you need a Twitter account? Should you be on Instagram?
The answers vary, depending on your industry and what you’re trying to achieve. From building your professional brand to connecting with influencers who could help your job search, each platform has its own merit, and ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much effort you want to devote to each one, and which will benefit you most.
To get a better sense of what each one has to offer, we answered some of the most commonly asked questions below.
What platforms should I be on?
Of all the social media options, experts agree that LinkedIn is the most professionally important. “You absolutely need to be on LinkedIn, and you need to be utilizing the platform to its fullest extent,” says Frances Reimers, founder of Firestarter, a brand-consulting firm.
“It’s very surprising to me when I run across a CEO’s profile and they don’t have a profile picture or they’re not even listing their current position.”
If LinkedIn is all you’re comfortable with, that’s fine, says Reimers. “I am a big believer that it’s okay to be a one-trick social media pony. If the online world makes you unsure, find one platform that you’re comfortable with and learn everything about it.”
If you want to add a second platform, Twitter is a good option, but not low maintenance. “Twitter is one of those platforms that’s very time-consuming, and if you don’t have the time to put into it, you won’t get much out of it,” says Talaya Waller, personal-branding consultant and founder of Waller & Company.
For Twitter, you’ll want to be following the top influencers in your space, as well as executives you’ve worked with or would like to. Re-tweeting and sharing your own thought leadership pieces as well as others, are a must here, so this is why it’s not a passive option.
What about Instagram and Pinterest?
It depends on your field. In certain visual industries—design, fashion, entertainment—these kinds of platforms matter more.
“If you’re in the design business—home décor, architecture—Pinterest matters a lot,” says Tim Collins, a social media advisor with Grisdale Advisors. “If you’re working in an industry that really caters to, say, the under-35 crowd, being on Instagram really make sense.”
There’s also wisdom in choosing the platforms that make sense for future professional you. “You have to think about the job you’re looking for and the industry you want to work in,” Collins says. “Which ones make sense for that job in that industry?”
How often do I need to be on it?
You’ll have the most impact if you’re using social media on a regular basis. “Your social media is an excellent brand tool if you’re using it consistently,” Reimers says. “It’s not a pot roast, you can’t just put it in a crockpot and be done with it. You have to be working on it daily and making yourself relevant with the times.”
That means checking your Twitter feed and interacting with or re-tweeting interesting articles or posts from thought leaders in your industry. Or it might mean posting something interesting to LinkedIn or Instagram.
Because maintaining your social media presence requires time, Waller recommends focusing on no more than two platforms unless you have a team to help you manage it.
What’s the biggest mistake people make on social media?
Executives must understand that everything they post can be seen by everyone. “If you post something embarrassing or funny, it has the possibility of spreading far beyond what you originally intended,” Reimers says. “Any time you post anything, you need to think to yourself, ‘I’m posting to this audience, but would these four audiences over here be offended or confused or concerned about this post?’”
In general, avoid topics that are potentially divisive, such as those that are political in nature. “Unless you are absolutely certain that your entire audience base thinks in one direction or another, you have to be very careful about how you word things,” Reimers says.
It’s also important that you establish a social media presence before you’re job hunting. “The last thing you want is to have a recruiter go out to Twitter and see that you launched your profile two weeks ago and you have 15 followers,” Collins says. “It just doesn’t look good.”
Use the internet to your advantage
Whether you’re starting an active job search or just thinking about making a move, it’s never too early to cultivate a social media presence that supports your professional brand. Another way to get noticed is simply to make yourself visible to those who are hiring. Need some help getting started? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume and cover letter—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. It's a quick and easy way to create a profile that says, "I'm ready to get to work."