You’ve read the stories of bosses scouring social media for lazy or offensive employees. You’ve culled your profile and removed anything controversial. Your bio looks fantastic. But how do you keep your personality shining through, without jeopardizing your job hunt?
Share content you love, but make your responses count too
After a heavy social media cull, when your profile feels ready for any employer to browse, you can become too ‘safe’ in your sharing habits and status updates. The result is a bland profile where you’re afraid to express your opinions. All you can manage is repeatedly sharing business-related articles with bland endorsements such as ‘interesting read’ or ‘great stuff’.
What would make you more employable? If you actively got involved. If you read a controversial article about your industry, or you find a ‘top 10’ listicle that misses out a key point, challenge it.
Also, reply to the brands and industry influencers you love – answer their questions. Inc.com suggests reaching out to people you admire on social media can be valuable; just don’t expect a reply straight away, especially from someone with thousands of followers.
Don’t be an overzealous tweeter at a live event
When a popular conference or industry event comes up, it seems like the perfect opportunity to boost your social media following and job prospects. You can live tweet to your heart’s content, right? Well, yes, within reason. Nobody wants to follow the person tweeting every speaker’s sentences. You’re basically the autocue.
The key here is balance. Firstly, warn your followers that you’ll be tweeting from an event, as they might want to mute you if they’re not interested. Use the event hashtags and @-mention the speakers, but only tweet when you really need to, because overenthusiastic tweeting can annoy your followers and everyone attending the event.
Save your tweets for the very best quotes or questions, interact with others on the hashtag, and please don’t upload a picture of every PowerPoint slide. It’s annoying. Put down your technology in between Twitter sessions, to actively listen and give the speaker your full attention. As Carolyn Thomas, a.k.a. The Ethical Nag marketing blogger, says of live-tweeting, ‘it is simply impossible to both pay attention to a speaker while at the same time frantically composing, editing, and rewriting my tweet’.
Only use terminology you understand
Most industries come with their own set of jargon, or they at least use some of the weirdest business-speak phrases doing the rounds right now – ‘let’s get our ducks in a row’ is just one example of the most hated office jargon terms. But using these phrases in the wrong context can make you look out of touch, which won’t help your job search, even on social media.
Brush up on the terminology used in your industry, or in the industry you’re transferring to, and check to see if influencers think a certain word or phrase is no longer relevant. For example, in the marketing world, technology expert Daniel Henriksen has warned of ‘shiny object syndrome’: brands become obsessed with chasing the latest innovation, such as AI (artificial intelligence) without knowing what to do with it.
The same could apply to you, if you’re writing about technology and you want to talk about it in applications and interviews, but can’t back up your opinions. Use social media as a tool to research those industry terms, and find out whether the latest buzzword is a fad or a permanent concern.
Make your pictures count
Pictures are important for Twitter engagement, but they can also undermine your authority if you don’t use them properly. When Career Builder recently surveyed employers about the social media habits that stopped them hiring a candidate, 39% of employers said the candidate had posted ‘provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information’.
Yes, you might have 25 carefully crafted recent Facebook posts about sunsets and healthy living, but if you’re also tagged in bar crawl photos on week nights, your work ethic could be questioned. To make life easier, you need to change your settings. On Facebook, make sure you can’t be tagged without approval, and check what appears as ‘public posts’. On Snapchat, pictures may disappear, but remember your friends could screenshot what you’ve posted, so don’t publish anything you wouldn’t want an employer to see.
On Twitter, you can ban photo tagging altogether: well worth doing if your friends love taking drunken selfies and uploading the evidence for all to see. Log out of your profile and try searching for your own name: this is what an outsider would find. The pictures you do post can be fun, such as team-building day images, but nothing that would make you unpopular with your future boss.
Congratulations – your social media feed is now job-ready, and you’re one step closer to your next role.