Start Right Now
Building a professional network on social media is a smart idea even if you aren’t looking for a job just yet. Take the time to get to know the different channels, see how colleagues present themselves, and explore the differences between using the medium for business vs. pleasure.
When you’re ready to establish your own presence, don’t rush to do everything at once. Create profiles one day, join new groups the next, and follow companies you’re interested in as you go along. The more thoughtful you are about the process, the more rewarding the results will be.
Be a Person, Not a Product
You no longer have to wait until the interview to introduce the person behind the resume. In addition to just stating your job history and background, leverage social media to demonstrate how you can be a valuable resource. Share relevant news and articles, give and ask for recommendations on LinkedIn, and look for innovative ways to showcase your passion and expertise.
Handle with Care
When you’re behind the computer or phone, it’s easy to get lazy—and careless. Be just as articulate and self-aware on social media platforms as you would be at a live job fair or networking event. Avoid becoming a nuisance by over posting, and always be mindful of details like grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Protect Your Rep
Think of social media outlets as a permanent record that tells the story of your life. Then make sure you’re putting out the story you want potential employers to see. “Social media background checks” are becoming the norm for hiring companies and recruiters, and at the very least you can expect a potential boss to snoop around online to see how you conduct yourself in the off-hours.
Check your privacy settings on Facebook to confirm you know what you’re sharing publicly, and ask to be notified before friends tag you in posts or pictures. And if your regular social network mixes personal friends with professional colleagues, never post anything you wouldn’t want your mother or your current boss to see. Make a habit of “Googling” yourself to see what turns up. Even if you can’t remove it, you can figure out a way to explain it.
Always Be Networking
LinkedIn is an amazing tool for connecting with former, current, and potential colleagues, but don’t underestimate the power of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. Be creative about using them to your advantage. Even if you’re not connected to a hiring manager on Facebook, you may be able to see if you have any friends in common. If you do, you can tap into your friend for helpful intel.
If you’re interested in working for a particular company or institution, follow them on Twitter to stay in the loop on the latest news, events, and maybe even job openings, or get to know them better through Pinterest.