Whether you’re making a mid-career move to a different industry or starting a job search after decades with your former employer, there are many obstacles older professionals have to navigate when seeking work. One major obstacle you may have encountered is navigating the complex and ever-changing world of social media.
A smart social media strategy can benefit your job search in several ways. First, using social media platforms allows recruiters to discover you and learn about your skills. Second, tapping into social media lets you discover possible job openings that might be a fit for you. Third, an online presence is a way to show potential employers that you’re not intimidated by technology, fighting another stereotype about older workers. Finally, you can reconnect with past colleagues who might work in industries or at companies where you’d like to work.
Here are a few dos and don’ts to apply to your social media presence and impress future employers.
Do: Have a complete LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is the #1 social media platform for professional networking. Have a LinkedIn profile that lists your entire education, skills, background and links to any key projects is as effective as having your own professional website in most cases. It’s also worth your time and energy to invest in a current professional headshot.
Don’t: Be a wallflower.
Spend time getting to know the search features that let you drill down into networks of people, companies, and job postings. Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups for your industry. Don’t be afraid to comment on others’ posts, start putting yourself out there, and acquaint yourself with fellow group members. The more you grow your online network, the better your chances are to hear about potential job opportunities!
Do: Showcase your career story.
The first part of your personal brand is telling your career story effectively and openly. How have you grown over your career? What skills have you learned? What does the arc of your career mean and how did you move from one position to the next? A captivating, well-told career story will make employers see your value and consider you a great investment.
Don’t: Overshare about your personal life.
Showing off your personality and telling your career story are part of having a social media presence. But oversharing inappropriate personal details will make employers think twice about investing in you. Run a “background check” and see what’s already out there about yourself. Start with a Google search on your name, and then review any existing social media accounts for posts, photos, etc., that might paint an unprofessional image of you.
Do: Pay attention to your grammar, spelling, and phrases.
Sloppy grammar, lowercase “is,” or acronyms (LOL, OMG, etc.) are not how most employees typically communicate with their coworkers. Your word choice and spelling should reflect the job you want and be an expression of your professionalism.
Don’t: Be too modest about your accomplishments.
You will need to do a certain amount of online bragging, done in good taste. Include your volunteer experience, publications, certifications, languages, speaking engagements, etc. Ask colleagues for LinkedIn recommendations, and offer to return the favor.
Do: Start a Twitter account.
Use your actual name or a shortened form for your username. Include a short bio. Follow people or companies where you might want to interview. See which of your LinkedIn contacts are also on Twitter and ask them to follow you. By following tweets, you can stay on top of a potential employer’s news. Plus, you’re expanding your network.
Don’t: Sign up for every platform out there.
You don’t need to run out and sign up for every social media channel that exists. The key is to be selective, because you need to not just have an account but post regularly and meaningfully. So you might want to take a pass on Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and others that won’t benefit your career goals as much as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Do: Get involved even when you have a job.
If you’re employed now but are planning a job search soon or know that layoffs are possible, get active on social media now rather than waiting until you’re jobless, if possible. But if you’re already out of work and searching, it’s not too late to get busy on social media. And even after you land a job, don’t neglect your social media channels. You need to keep up with your networks because you never know when you’ll need them.
Don’t: Get overwhelmed.
Keeping up with the various platforms and coming up with things to post can be exhausting. Sometimes, taking some time to analyze what other people and companies are saying and doing – and then responding – can be a refreshing way to reevaluate what types of posts are most suitable for you. The best way to ensure success is to think carefully before you post.
The key to social media is to regularly maintain the channels you choose. An inactive social media profile is actually worse than no profile at all because it can leave the impression that you aren’t web savvy, aren’t interested in staying up to date, or lack follow through. So get out there and connect! You never know who will be the key to your next job!