A Social Media Starter's Guide For Job Seekers

Looking for a job for the first time in over a decade can be a lot like trying to date again after getting divorced from a long marriage. You can try to do it the same way you did when you were much younger, but you would have much more success using social media to find the right match. If you aren’t sure where to start, this list will introduce you to how each major social media channel can help build your personal brand online and network like an all-star.

According to a 2016 survey by CareerBuilder, 59 percent of hiring managers use search engines to research job candidates. If you have no presence online, you will be perceived as being out of touch.

“Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resume or cover letter,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “And with more and more people using social media, it’s not unusual to see the usage for recruitment to grow as well.”

To get started, determine what you would like to get out of using social media professionally. For example, are you looking to build relationships or to express your authority as an expert in your field? Both? Neither? Just like each tool in your garden shed serves its own purpose, each social media outlet acts as a tool to help you in different ways.

LINKEDIN: A must-have for all professionals — if you have no other online presence, you must have a strong LinkedIn profile. It will often be the first impression a professional contact will have of you, even before you meet in person. Your LinkedIn profile is not just an online version of your resume. It is an online networking event. It is a chance for you to tell the well-rounded story of your professional experience — a sense of who you are, what you contribute to a business, what sort of network you have as a professional resource, and how you lead and think about business.

Since LinkedIn focuses on professional networking, start there before branching out to other social channels. For a step-by-step guide to optimize your LinkedIn profile in no time, download the 21-Point LinkedIn Inspection.

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TWITTER: Unlike Facebook where people typically connect only with people they know, on Twitter people connect with those they want to know. Twitter is an extremely useful way to “subscribe” to the businesses, media, associations, leaders, and pros in your industry. By following them, your Twitter feed will be filled with news and views relevant to you. Used as an aggregation tool, Twitter can be a big time saver that keeps you in the know. Even more important, you don’t need an introduction or permission to follow public profiles, so you can connect and interact with thought leaders and companies you are interested in getting to know.

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PERISCOPE: Owned by Twitter, Periscope is a live-streaming app that lets you use your phone to show live coverage to potentially anyone in the world. If you are in a field that lends itself naturally to sharing experiences with your professional contacts, you can use Periscope to invite your followers to join you. For example, news media, celebrities, and event hosts often give their Periscope viewers a look behind-the-scenes. Sales persons use it to show how a product is made or to conduct live Q&As. Chefs demonstrate cooking in real time. Realtors use Periscope to take viewers on a tour of their open houses and points of interest for their towns.

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INSTAGRAM: Pictures are a great way to visually tell a story, and Instagram allows you to tell the story of your professional life visually. Keep your profile on the public setting for anyone to be able to find you. Post a behind-the-scenes look at your daily work routine. To round-out the story of who you are off-the-clock, also post some photos that tell the story of your personal passions, the city you live in, and what you do for fun to the extent that you are comfortable doing so. Most importantly, post beautiful and interesting images.

Use relevant common words in your hashtags in order to be found and to put context to your images. Some suggestions might include words based on your industry (#finance) or location (#Atlanta) and words that speak to your personal brand (#leadership) and events you attend (#TEDtalks2016).

Your Instagram photos will populate the “Images” section of a Google search for your name, so be sure to only post photos that are aligned with how you want to be known professionally, even if that includes a glimpse into your personal life.

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FACEBOOK: To use Facebook professionally or not — that is the question. While it is possible to manage both your personal and professional worlds on Facebook, I believe it can be challenging. You can categorize each of your contacts using custom tags and then adjust the setting for each of your posts to identify which are for personal friends and which are for work friends. But that can get confusing, so prepare for the potential of any connection seeing any post.

If there’s one major social media player that you don’t have to use professionally, it is Facebook. Most people will understand if you tell them you don’t use it professionally and don’t connect to co-workers there. Having said that, there are advantages to connecting with colleagues on Facebook, including building relationships with them and connecting with others in industry groups and liked pages.

While these are the basic social media outlets to get you started, it is worth looking into whether or not your industry associations have apps as well. Also, once you are comfortable with one or more of these, other channels and apps can be used to help establish you as an authority in your field, such as YouTube, podcasting, and blogging. Having a strong presence online is more about representing yourself authentically than how many channels you are active on.

Whether you are on the dating scene or job search circuit for the first time in years, it helps to have a wing man or two for support, and social media can act as a sort of wing man. You can cast a much wider net networking online than you can offline.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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