Sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are ideal for building connections and finding a job, explains Charlotte Ashley-Roberts
Q: I attended a careers event the other week and heard a discussion about the importance of social media. How should I use social media to find a job, and how can I give the best impression?
A: Social media now an essential part of any job search, along with looking at online jobs boards, networking and using recruitment agencies. If you do not use social media you can easily miss out on career opportunities, including new jobs, useful contacts and information relevant to your role.
In some sectors – particularly science communication – social media could be a crucial part of your day-to-day role, and you will be expected to have a good understanding of its use in advertising, marketing and public relations. By using social media now, you can demonstrate your capabilities in these areas before interview.
Making a connection
Once you have created an account on social media, you should use it regularly. Some platforms require more interaction than others (for example, Twitter is about live news and discussion, so requires more attention, often on a daily basis, than LinkedIn). A good tip is to spend around nine minutes a day across your social media accounts. To get the most out of social media, you need to get involved – don’t just share someone else’s comment, but add your own or start a discussion. Think about what you want to be known for online: what kind of topics do you want to discuss? If you are in doubt, go for something you are passionate about and the enthusiasm will come across.
It’s important to remember that there is no such thing as total privacy online, and it is very difficult to retract anything you post; this includes on private or ‘friends only’ social media networks such as Facebook. Always consider what you write and how quickly it can be seen and shared; we have all seen examples of posts that someone almost certainly wishes would disappear.
One option is to keep your personal and professional accounts separate, and use the professional account to promote yourself without sharing personal information.
Some companies will search for you online before interview, so before you apply type your name in to Google, see what appears and make sure you’re giving the right impression. It is also important to stay safe online and not give out personal information if you work in a controversial area (for example animal testing).
Pick a platform
Most social media platforms can be used to find jobs, including those traditionally seen as more focused on personal connections, such as Facebook and Pinterest.
LinkedIn is probably the most useful platform for job searches. There are over 300 million users and its focus is on building professional contacts. Users are encouraged to post their work history, and endorse the skills of colleagues or business associates. Many recruitment agencies and hiring managers use LinkedIn to identify people who meet the requirements of roles they have available; these users can access skills and keywords to find potential candidates for jobs on offer. It’s also a useful resource for staying up to date with what’s going on in your industry, and to build connections with like-minded individuals.
Twitter is very useful for finding jobs, as many companies and recruiters (including @ChemWorldJobs) post links to the latest available roles in their Twitter feeds.
If you have more advice you’d like to share about this month’s question – or have your own careers conundrum for Charlotte – please write to firstname.lastname@example.org