This article is part of Day 3 of our 5-Day Career Kickstart Challenge. Follow along as we help you turn 2016 into the year you remember as your professional turning point. Today's step? Setting realistic goals (and letting go of past mistakes).
AS DIGITAL-SAVVY WOMEN, WE SPEND AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF OUR FREE TIME SWIPING AND SCROLLING, SO WHY NOT PUT SOCIAL MEDIA TO USE DURING WORK HOURS, TOO?
I'm guessing you've heard this: there are no secrets in the digital age. We all agree we need to be more cautious about our public personas on the Internet if only because nothing's private anymore. On the one hand, there are the horror stories—identity theft, cyber terrorism—but then there are also real advantages to our highly public self-images: our digital presence can actually help us launch a business, find true love, or even find a jaw-dropping career.
Regardless of whether you're seeking a new job or just trying to advance your career at your current company, personal branding is everything when it comes to attaining success. And social media? That's your first step.
STEP 1: STREAMLINE YOUR ACCOUNTS
Every. Single. Account. Your personal brand equals one voice—and your social media accounts should never veer from that voice. Make sure every one of your accounts clearly outlines exactly what sort of professional you are. Potential employers want to know you've got vision, and you aren't afraid to show it.
Beyond your personal branding, make sure that your career history is current and consistent everywhere. There are the obvious platforms (ahem, LinkedIn) where you probably know you need to keep your experience and expertise updated, but when was the last time you updated the Work section on your Facebook profile?
Consider this: if one of your Facebook friends is looking for a digital marketing specialist, and they vaguely remember that you work in the field, does your profile actually show all your great experience when they come looking?
Potential employers want to know you've got vision, and you aren't afraid to show it.
STEP 2: HONE IN WITH KEYWORDS
In addition to updating your work history and streamlining your voice across platforms, make sure you’re using appropriate keywords for your industry on Facebook and LinkedIn. Recruiters often use these terms to hunt for candidates for open positions at their companies.
First step: Use LinkedIn Jobs to search for openings at companies you’d like to work for (or just positions that seem like your ideal, even if the company isn't quite your thing), then take note of the common words or descriptions the listings use. Incorporate those buzzwords into your profiles.
Next: Try hunting down people who work at companies you admire in similar positions to the one you’d like to land. Analyze how they describe themselves. Is there anything you missed in your own profile that you should include?
STEP 3: TREAT YOUR SOCIAL ACCOUNTS AS THE FRONT DOOR, NOT THE WHOLE HOUSE TOUR...
Make sure every account includes your portfolio URL (if applicable—but if you’re a creative, you should probably have one. Try Squarespace), blog, or at least an email address. Think of your social media as a launch pad or even a weirdly interactive business card: you want potential employers to be able to easily click off to additional details about you, your experience, and your fine, fine work.
STEP 4: ...BUT DON’T GET LAZY ABOUT YOUR ACCOUNTS EITHER
While your accounts should serve as a siphon, pushing visitors to discover more about your professional world, do not, under any account, let your accounts get stale (yes, I realized how many times I used the word “account” so take the hint).
Update regularly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you know you won’t have the time to update a particular social account, don’t set one up. It’s better to not have an account on Twitter (or Snapchat, Periscope, whatever) than to simply not be active.
If you want to get crazy, you can actually schedule your posts through a social management tool. In the long-run, doing so will save you tons of time (especially if you’re looking for freelance or contract gigs on an ongoing basis). You’re probably familiar with these companies if you’ve ever worked in marketing. For a few bucks a month, you can input all your posts on a Saturday, then the platform will take care of posting them for you throughout the week. At Career Contessa, we like Edgar,but there are plenty of other free tools to use.
Social media is a great opportunity to demonstrate your creative approach or writing style, even when you’re not working in your ideal industry (or working at all).
STEP 5: SHOW OFF YOUR AESTHETIC, STELLAR WRITING ABILITIES, OR OTHER INCREDIBLE QUALITIES
Posting regularly doesn’t mean sacrificing quality so spellcheck those tweets, please. It’s also a great opportunity to demonstrate your creative approach or writing style, even when you’re not working in your ideal industry (or working at all).
If you'd like to expand into a more creative role at your current company, use your work on social media as an example of your abilities during your annual review. Share a link to your blog with your boss if you'd like to start writing press releases, or your Instagram photography if you'd like to start assisting on shoots at your agency.
When a good friend abruptly lost her beloved job as a magazine’s creative director (said magazine folded), she spent months hunting for a suitable replacement. During that time, she created Tumblr and Pinterest accounts to keep herself creatively occupied so the mundane task of writing cover letters wouldn’t drag her down. In the end, though, those accounts actually landed her her current position: her now boss scrolled through her pins and posts and decided she had the perfect innovative eye for a role at their fashion brand.
STEP 6: FOLLOW YOUR IDOLS—AND IDEAL COMPANIES’ CAREER ACCOUNTS
Many companies have specific accounts run by recruiters where they post job listings. These are great accounts to follow and check back in with regularly. Some common examples:
- GMCareers (Twitter)
- YahooCareers (Twitter)
But also company accounts. Companies such as Everlane and many design and marketing firms post open positions to their Instagram accounts.
STEP 7: CONNECT WITH DISTANT CORNERS OF YOUR NETWORK
Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups in your industry to reach new audiences—and participate. That means adding comments but also helping others out where you can. Serve as a resource whenever possible for like-minded women—they’ll remember your insight and support down the line.
Hunt down some Twitter Chats hosted by companies or individuals you admire. Participate on the night of but also going forward. Enjoyed something someone said in last night’s chat? Follow them and reach out. You’ve just found a new professional connection.
It’s always awkward to ask for help, but social media makes it a little less terrible.
STEP 8: ENGAGE ENGAGE ENGAGE
There’s no point in following all those profiles and joining all those groups if you don’t join in the discussion. And that doesn’t just mean going through Instagram or Facebook and clicking “Like”. Think about it: if you’re one of 15,000 followers on a company’s Instagram account, you’re also one of hundreds of likes. But have you ever noticed how many fewer comments there are on posts? Time to start writing.
But hold on, tiger—don’t just drop in a heart-eyed emoji or an “awesome!” — really participate. Write thoughtful responses and, more importantly, ask great questions. The account owner will be more likely to respond if they’re intrigued by your points.
Then repeat. The more often you participate on a company’s feed, the more likely they will be to recognize you when the time comes to put your name in for a job.
STEP 9: FIND SOMEBODY TO LEAN ON
It’s always awkward to ask for help, but social media makes it a little less terrible. Consider writing a post announcing your new plan for job hunting. Make it specific so they know what you’re looking for. But on the flip-side: don't hit up people you don't know on social media for jobs—it's obnoxious. Use social media to bring attention to your name and your abilities, but keep the job hunt strictly professional on other channels.
STEP 10: ORGANIZE A TWITTER CHAT
This goes the extra mile, but consider organizing a social media networking event with others seeking to grow their careers in your industry. Whether it’s a Twitter Chat or a Facebook Event, ask people to submit questions about their careers and encourage participants to offer help where applicable. Example:
PERSON 1: “I work in marketing, but I don’t know anything about design. I want to start learning Photoshop or Illustrator. Does anyone have any advice on where to start?”
PERSON 2: “I love Lynda classes for this sort of stuff! Try their Photoshop 101. Huge help.”
PERSON 3: “I’m a graphic designer. DM me and we can set up a chat about where to start.”
STEP 11: NEVER SURRENDER
Even when you’ve landed the job you want. Use your social media as a direct reflection of your personal brand. As driven career women, we’re always seeking new opportunities. Going back to Step 4, avoid letting your accounts fall silent. After all, unless you’re some sort of digital era soothsayer, you never know where you’re going next.
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