Social media is great for boosting your job search and inspiring you as you plan your next career move. But it can also be responsible for generating serious envy as you scroll through your feed. So how do you deal with the jealousy and anger that social media can fuel?

Your friends seem to have cooler jobs than you

Career envy is often fuelled by social media because curating a seemingly perfect lifestyle involves having a perfect job. Your friends probably won’t post about horrendous days at the office or dealing with the world’s worst customers (unless their privacy settings are firmly in place, and no employer could stumble upon their ranting status updates).

Instead, you’ll see a barrage of ‘best work trip ever’ Instagram shots, tweets of conference goodie bags or PR events, and lists of reasons why #ilovemyjob. You won’t see the 3am meltdown they had before a big presentation, but don’t think it didn’t happen.

To put things in perspective, look at your own social media feeds. How honest are you being? Those boring tasks and overly long meetings didn’t get a mention (for obvious reasons – big social media no-nos!). Neither did the commute from hell. Remember your own editing skills when you look at everyone else’s carefully curated updates. This is not real life, just the highlights reel, like creating a CV or a dating profile. 

You’re jealous of the person who got your dream role

Social media can be more of a curse than a blessing when it comes to knocking your self-confidence about the roles you didn’t get. These days, many companies announce their new hires in dramatic style, either with team photos or social shout-outs.

You’ll probably find the new employee’s Twitter or LinkedIn profile with little effort (Instagram and Facebook tend to be more closely guarded by most professionals, as they’re less geared towards career development overall). One sneaky look can turn into a full-on social media investigation, as you scroll through their updates and scrutinize their connections – a bit like finding your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend’s new partner and obsessing over what they’ve got that you don’t.

Sometimes the social media reveal can lay your suspicions to rest, particularly if the new hire is far more qualified than you, or they’ve won more industry awards than you’ve had hot dinners. But more often, this kind of snooping only leaves you feeling bitter. Keep in touch with the company’s HR department, ask for feedback, and look out for future job postings, but stay away from the new hire’s profile, for your own good.

You don’t know anyone influential on LinkedIn

Firstly, you probably do know influential people, without realizing it. If you’ve met them at an industry event, interned with them, or reached out to them for advice, you’ve already established a connection that can be formalized on LinkedIn with a personal invitation to connect. Never leave the generic LinkedIn invitation wording on there – make a personal case and mention where you met the influencer to make sure they remember you.

Next, find influencers who are your second or third tier connections, which is a major advantage of using this social network, as you’ll naturally be directed towards them. Adding someone who shares links to others is perfectly logical, whereas it’s a bit weird if a friend-of-a-friend adds you on Facebook and you’ve never actually spoken to them.

To supercharge things, think like a brand looking to use LinkedIn for SEO strategies (Search Engine Optimisation). This guide from Page One Power is aimed at SEO, but could easily apply to other users of LinkedIn. It explains how to find the people posting relevant content on the network.

Nobody interacts with your posts

The key here? Sharing is caring. Show some love to others in your industry and, chances are, they’ll return the favor. If you’ve ever heard the quote ‘no man is an island’, it’s time to put it into practice, because social media is about being sociable, not ignoring everyone on your timeline. You also need to be consistent to gain traction, as many social media influencers will testify.

When you see someone is new to a network (yes, there are people only just joining Twitter or Instagram now, or reactivating a dormant account), welcome them. Also, look out for secret industry Facebook groups where insiders can support each other. These are often accessed by referral or request only, so you need to be approved. Grill any industry insiders to see if there are online groups you could join to get ahead.

On text-heavy networks, like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, posts with images tend to have higher engagement levels, so try integrating more images when you can, to increase the chances of people engaging with you. Lastly, use hashtags sparingly – use one or two, but never more than three hashtags per post, unless you’re Instagramming.