What to do next? “Go mess around on social media” seems counter-intuitive. But that’s exactly where you should focus when looking for work. Hiring managers and HR people not only search sites for candidates, they use social media and search to find out more about you.
Google yourself early in your job search process to see what’s already out there. Then invest a little time on the following areas.
Your Profile Image
A good, clear headshot that doesn’t involve other people, pets, or beverages is a must. It doesn’t have to be a professional portrait on a neutral background in a suit, unless that’s the kind of culture you want to work in, but it should emphasize your face and be well-composed, uncluttered and flattering. Use the same photo across your job-related social media accounts to start associating that image with your personal brand.
It’s important to make sure your LinkedIn profile is current, good-looking and keyword-rich. LinkedIn has become the default first stop for recruiters, hiring managers and people looking for project help.
For career changers and those just entering the job market, LinkedIn gives you many opportunities to shape your profile so your knowledge and skills – rather than your job experience — come to the forefront. These include a well-crafted headline and summary, links to work samples and projects, and opportunities to publish posts and join groups.
All of these elements can be arranged in whatever order best highlights your personal brand. Along with soliciting endorsements and recommendations in your new field, you can move or delete old endorsements or recommendations that aren’t relevant.
As you build your LinkedIn network, you can tag your contacts to organize them into categories for easier search and outreach.
These and many other great LinkedIn hacks can be found on the Content Marketing Institute’s “60+ LinkedIn Profile Tips for Marketers” page. Many of these ideas will work for developers, data scientists or anybody else embarking on a quest for a new job.
You may not want to devote your Facebook presence to your squeaky-clean job-hunting persona. If you scrub your Facebook account, where will you rant about politics, post photos of your dog, or use your second-to-last text message to caption the photo of the blood-soaked motel room? What fun is that?
Some people solve this problem by setting up a business page for “Edwina Morgan, Web Developer” which asks visitors to like, rather than friend, the page. If you plan to freelance, a Facebook business page is essential; while job-hunting, it burnishes your image as a professional.
In the last few years, Facebook has motivated people to set up business pages by attaching its ad program, Facebook Insights and other features to those pages. Where personal profiles max out at 5,000 friends, business/professional pages can attract millions. Migrating followers from personal to business pages can be a little tricky, so it’s worth thinking about before you have 4,996 friends.
You can add a free call to action at the top of your page, including “learn more,” contact options, or downloading an app or game. You can sell tickets or merchandise from your website, or links to partner apps that handle appointment booking.
And while most of these promotional features come with a cost, they can be targeted and budgeted so tightly that you may find it makes business sense to boost a post or run a small ad campaign to see how it performs.
Your Twitter profile should match your other professional profiles – same image, same keywords. Creating and sharing content via Twitter is another way to grow your network and raise your profile, but when you’re just starting out, Twitter works brilliantly as a listening post.
Following people and companies you admire in the industry you hope to enter, or advance in, is a no-brainer. Twitter also works well as a news feed to keep you up-to-date on what’s going on with companies you’re targeting.
Knowing the hot issues helps you write a great cover letter and rock your interview by showing how well-informed and interested you are. And looking smart is a great addition to anybody’s personal brand.