Social Media and Your Job Search: The Great Balancing Act
Social media has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. It reaches into every corner of our lives and has reshaped the way we share information, ranging from the way we broadcast milestone events to friends and family. The medium has changed everything, from politics to our professional lives.
And as many of us have learned, social media has also become an invaluable tool for personal promotion…when used properly. And while there are no set guidelines for what is deemed “proper” in the ever-shifting online landscape, the team at Leddy Group would like to offer up some suggestions on how to better leverage social media in your career.
Be a pro.
With “professional” social networking, the key is to focus on the various job seekers’ tools readily at your disposal, designed specifically for this purpose – and use them in the way they were intended to operate. Those tools like Glassdoor, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Dice, and Monster are solid, time-honored career resources. Having a current (searchable) professional resume posted to these portals, along with a well written, updated profile can help recruiters and potential employers locate you – fast.
Now, keep in mind the word “professional.” Says Google:
Professional, in this context, specifically relates to career. Thus, focus your messaging on content related to your paid occupation – not a pastime. Every tool you use should be focused on the betterment of your professional standing and used exclusively for the purpose for which it is intended. Got political opinions? LinkedIn is not the place for advice. Keep boundaries. If you must make personal or idea-driven posts, learn to better balance the two worlds.
Which brings us to Rule #1:
Always be as professional online as you would want your employees to be in the real world.
It might help to clarify the grey line that exists between being casual and professional if you think of your social media as a virtualized staff, actively promoting you when you are not looking. Think of every word you put online as your personal marketing team charged with presenting messages about you to the world. You would want them to show the facts, clearly – but in a positive light. You would want them to speak honestly, but avoid opinions or condescending attitudes, and you would want them to highlight accomplishments and opportunities wherever possible. You would want them to speak loud and proud about all the great things happening at your organization, freely. The words you post – including the tone, spelling, and grammar you use, are an ongoing reflection of you and your team.
And while this is particularly true of career sites, the same goes for your social media. You can keep abreast of current events and happenings about yourself and the world around you without being insensitive to others, falling onto the trap of being overly critical or engaging in the unhealthy drama that sometimes occurs on these platforms. Always be professional.
Rule #2 – When in doubt, just don’t.
Here’s a social media rule of thumb to live by: not everything needs to be broadcast to the world. This is particularly true when it comes to specifics about your job search. Never announce the details of your job search, and never, ever complain about a company’s hiring process. In fact, avoid posting specific information entirely during the interview process, and never address particular people, companies, and experiences in any public posts.
Instead, broadcast your interest in seeking a new career or role and ask for help and insight from others in your circle of peers. Training programs, online resources, ask smart questions of people that may have insights that could help your search. Then, once you connect, take your discussions offline. And while it is true that sites like Glassdoor allow you to review the interview process of specific companies, do so with healthy discretion – long after the experience has happened and once you are secure in a job. These reviews are an excellent tool for job seekers, but opinion, particularly in heightened emotional situations like a job interview, is best dealt with outside the heat of the moment, in retrospect. Many people do not realize the incredible number of hoops that HR and hiring managers need to jump through to make an airtight job offer happen. It is an internal negotiation with a lot of moving parts. The last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself.
Rule #3 – Keep your nose clean.
Be social but be positive. You are an individual, and you are free to share your vision of an ideal world as you please but do it sensibly and with class. Unless you are actively working to campaign for a social cause you very much believe in, avoid expressing controversial positions. And no matter what, make it a point to avoid insensitive memes or “loose” information. In other words, be cautious about what you share and above all…no trolling!
Now, don’t get us wrong. We are not saying to avoid social media. Be yourself and have fun, just keep it healthy. You want to be seen and highly visible to recruiters, peers and hiring managers – in a professional, positive light. Work on building a stronger online presence and using social networks to boost your persona, represent your skills and experience in the workplace and engage on those social networking sites that will increase your visibility and searchability with prospective hiring managers. Don’t waste your time exchanging comments that have little value. Instead, write an op-ed, or volunteer, do something you can tie back to your job search that is productive.
Rule #4 – Actively separate your personal and professional worlds.
Finally, strike a balance. Make sure that personal accounts are set to private so that non-professional information is visible only to friends. Recall that nothing you post online is safe from other people’s eyes and that your data is never as safe as you are led to believe. Check your privacy settings, regularly, as social media companies frequently change their policies. Keep your personal information closer to you and your friends, and less visible to the outside world whenever possible.
Social media is a real game-changer, and continuously evolving in unpredictable ways. Using social media and networking to connect with people and advertise yourself in a professional medium is a perfectly acceptable supplemental tool in your job searching quiver – if it is presented through a professional lens. So, keep plugging away on your job search, and attempting to stay current with social media trends. Good luck with that! And whenever you embark on a new career, reach out to local recruiters you know and trust. While they may not have the perfect job at the time, real-life networking still works better than almost any other medium.
Finally, and almost entirely on queue – be sure to incorporate Leddy Group HR your professional social media mix! Connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn and be sure to get to know our consultants just in case you ever need our help now or in the future.