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Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, are often the first places recruitment consultants and hirers look when they’re either doing a cold search for candidates, or they want to know more about someone who’s applied to their job advert.

How you present yourself and behave online can shape your career opportunities. And remember, just because you delete something, doesn’t mean nobody saw it. Once a post is live, it’s nearly always immortal—it only takes a second to screenshot something.

So, for the jobseekers among you, here’s how you can better use social media in your job hunt.

Let’s get straight to it: stay clean on social media

Each company has its own brand. Each company wants to protect that brand. They don’t need the hassle of a social media storm that could damage their reputation (or their finances).

This means they want employees who toe the line and keep their personal profiles (or personal brand) clean, too. The moment you’re digitally unclean, you’re a liability, not an asset.

Don’t share anything that’s controversial, offensive, or pornographic.

You don’t need an interview that’s going well to unexpectedly crash to a halt because the employer found unsavoury social media posts with your name and profile picture on them.

Beware your own subjectivity

If a company has dismissed you, or turned you down after an interview, keep your frustrations to yourself and maintain good social media practices. Some businesses might seek legal representation if you leave negative remarks against them.

Platforms such as Glassdoor exist for current and past employees to review their employers—but if you write a review, be objective and avoid sounding petty.

The professional one: LinkedIn

This is where you’re most likely to connect (virtually) with recruiters and head-hunters. Some recruitment companies invest thousands of £ and $ every year so that their consultants can scour the furthest nooks and crannies of LinkedIn for ideal candidates, and send sheer volumes of Inmail (email on LinkedIn).

This means, if you’re serious about finding a job, you need to be on LinkedIn.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take a professional photo for your profile picture. Keep it simple. A front-facing photo of you, ideally smiling or something like smiling, wearing non-controversial clothes.
  • Only use the name you want an employer to use. Let’s imagine your name is… Richard Smith. Keep it like that. Save nicknames for other platforms, Smithy, Smit-Smit, etc.
  • Get your education on there. GCSEs, B-TECs, diplomas, A-Levels, degrees. LinkedIn takes you through a simple form so that you can note the qualification, the institution, the grade, and you even get a nice big text box—here you can go into detail about what topics or modules you studied, what you learned, what challenges you faced, and all the rest.
  • Mention the extra-curricular stuff. If you were Vice President of your university’s pottery club for two years, then mention it. If you’ve volunteered at a local recovery centre, mention it. Mention everything that demonstrates that you’ve invested your time, skills, and energy for a good cause.
  • Ask people to endorse you. LinkedIn gives you the chance to list the skills you’re good at. If you collaborated with someone to build a website, ask them to endorse you for your skill. They can even write a recommendation that sits on your LinkedIn profile. Sort of like a reference.

If you’re on the hunt for your first job, maximising these features on LinkedIn will draw the attention of recruitment consultants to your profile. They conduct their hunt via keyword searches, so you need to give yourself the best chance of them finding you.

Personalise any messages you send on LinkedIn

One of the vices of LinkedIn networking is spam, especially where sales and recruitment are concerned. Fling out a generic message to a high volume of people, and hope that a small percentage take the bait.

Wrong approach. Especially as a job-seeker. Every message you send, you want to personalise. Whether you’re approaching a consultant about a job they’re looking to fill, or you’re writing to an industry expert to ask them a question for your own personal and professional development. Use their name, be specific, avoid any vague language, state your intentions, and sign off politely.

The quick-fire one: Twitter

Twitter is unique for its brevity. A post can only be 280 characters long (up from 140). And it can feel like a platform that moves at a billion miles per hour. Without some direction, your Twitter activity can slip helplessly into the void.

So here’s how you can avoid that:

  • Remember, every single one of your tweets is a keyword string. Someone could find you just by typing one word or phrase into Twitter’s search bar. If the keyword is a rare one, someone could find you in minutes.
  • Follow the experts in your industry. They’re going to be tweeting their opinions, and sharing articles that further the conversation of your industry. You can retweet or respond to the tweets to make yourself a little better known.
  • Follow accounts for news updates in your industry, too.
  • Blend the professional with your personality. Twitter can also be a great place to find updates about your favourite sports teams, musicians, writers, and the rest. Keep your activity clean, but let a recruiter see your personality by liking and retweeting news about the latest book you want to read, or skill you want to learn.
  • Use hashtags (#) wisely. Keep your use of hashtags simple and effective. When job hunting, searching #job will turn up lots of results. Try to be more specific, for example, #writingjobs or #codingjobs. You could think about trying to filter for regions, too, such as #NewYorkJobs or #Londonjobs.
  • Use keywords in your bio, just like your LinkedIn profile.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone

Firstly, different jobs require different skills—you need to let the group of skills at which you excel rise to the top of your profile. You want someone to come to your profile and conclude that you’re highly skilled at X, and you specialise in Y. 

Secondly, don’t lie. This is true in every sense. Be honest when designing any social media profile. If you say you’re skilled at something when you’re not, this could eventually come out, and employers are unlikely to respond well when they find out you were lying to them.

Don’t burn bridges

Everyone has failed at interviews—it might be nerves on the day, or simply gaps in your knowledge or skillset that make you too much of a hiring risk. Fortunately, when one door seems to close, it means you’re free to knock on others and explore new possibilities after a job rejection.

Always thank interviewers for their time—in person and via telephone or email—and present the best version of yourself. Just because you’re not an ideal fit right now, doesn’t mean you won’t be in 18 months when you’ve honed your skills and expanded your knowledge in your industry.

Follow them on social media, engage with their posts in a professional way, and keep updating your profile with your accomplishments. 

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