How to Use Social Media to Advance Your Career

Social media is more than a place to lose yourself in unproductive and time-wasting musings. Much to the contrary, it can also be an incredibly productive and useful tool for such goals as advancing your career if used properly.

In many ways, social media is all about reputation, which is similar to what is required to find and secure quality employment. In both arenas, you need to impress others with the image you present. You do this by connecting with other impressive people and sharing interesting and valuable information.

However, social media is a two-way street, and you cannot simply expect to post a profile like an online resume and wait for all the great jobs to come to you. In the world of social media, you must give as you good as you want to get. If you want likes and shares for your posts, then you must like and share the posts of others. If you want friends and followers, then you must actively seek them out by friend-requesting and following others. Here are some ways to actively engage on social media to maximize the value this tool has to offer in helping you to advance your career.

Separate Identities for Separate Worlds

If you want to have a social media presence with all your friends that reflects your personal life outside of work, then do not use the same social media profile to advance your career. Create a separate profile on each social media account where you have a personal profile and utilize these distinct profiles accordingly. That way, you can let your hair down and still look good in the interview chair.

Contact and Connection Are Verbs

Collecting social media contacts and connections is only the first part of effectively harnessing the power of social media to advance your career. Contacts and connections are not just nouns, they are verbs as well, and you must act on them for them to be of any use to you. Contact your contacts, connect with your connections. Stay in contact and stay connected to your social media circle in order to keep them abreast of your career progress and to stay attuned to what job opportunities they and their social media sphere have available. A few easy ways to do this are:

  • Note birthdays and anniversaries and post your well wishes.
  • Like and share your contacts’ and connections’ posts.
  • Find noteworthy news stories in certain contacts’ and connections’ specific areas of interest and share the stories with them.

Accept (and Make) More Requests

While you may wish to restrict your friends and followers on your personal account to only people you know, there could be benefits to accepting friend and follow requests on your career profile for your career goals. You never know who could provide a lead to a great new job, training or contact. If you do not know the individual personally, then limit your correspondence and interactions with him or her until you get to know each other better. However, keep the channel open for the possibility of coming across something useful to you in your career advancement objectives in the shares and likes of these new friends and followers with whom you have less rapport.

Solidify and Strengthen Relationships

Social media can give you an excellent opportunity to firm up and bolster relationships with people with whom you already have some acquaintance. Observe when a need is expressed on social media you can fulfill and offer whatever value you can. Seek out suggestions on people to approach and resources to explore. Likewise, you can show potential future employers personal recommendations of your value from credentialed individuals. One way to garner the goodwill to receive these recommendations is to dole them out yourself.

Follow the Rules

Certainly, you must follow the rules of each social media platform in order to be allowed to continue using the platform. However, you must also be keen to follow the rules of your present employer regarding employees’ use of social media. Your career advancement efforts can backfire, in fact, if you fail to adhere to company policy around social media use in your efforts to use it to advance your career.

One safe bet in this area is to avoid using internal channels for any outside communication. From there, read through your company’s privacy policy carefully to make sure you do not unwittingly violate it. For example, the work you may be doing for your current employer could have elements protected under intellectual property laws. Sharing such information, even if in the innocent effort of showing your experience to a prospective employer, could wind you up with a stiff fine or worse, not to mention a likely withdrawal of any positive recommendation you may have been able to garner from that employer.

Think Before You Post

Anything posted online stays online forever. Even if you delete a social media post you make right after posting it, you never know who has already seen it and who might have downloaded or shared it. Once a post is downloaded or shared, it is out of your hands. You can delete it from your profile, but it does not necessarily disappear from other people’s feeds. If you can, then set up protections against random or impulsive posting, such as a confirmation step that asks, “Are you sure you want to post this?” Start posting only what you think can help make your case for career advancement.

Apply the same discretion to the posts other people make you like and/or share. What you like and share shows up on your feed and profile as well, in most social accounts, and anyone who wants to see what you find valuable and worth sharing can look that up easily. Let your social media presence support and bolster the image of yourself you plan to present in a job interview, not contradict and risk sabotaging it.

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