When it comes to social media, there is no shortage of great tools that can help you show off your personality to your devoted fans, followers and even potential future employers. From Facebook to Twitter, Snapchat to LinkedIn—the opportunities to showcase your personal brand to the world are endless. But just what exactly are you showing off? We spoke with experts on all ends of the social media spectrum to find out what actions you can take right now to make yourself as marketable as possible.
Michael Wigton is an advertising professional and professor at Iowa State University with significant insight on what employers are looking for when they peruse your accounts. Likewise, Amanda Augustine is a professional career advice expert at TopResume with years of experience helping young job seekers find employment, including using their social accounts as an advantage. Here's what they had to say.
1. Monitor and manage your accounts with scrutiny
Augustine says she warns her clients about hiring managers who review any social accounts they can find before making a hiring decision; saying that essentially, everything is fair game.
"Employers want to see consistency across all of your accounts, regardless of the platform," advises Augustine. "If the stories don't match up, you're sending red flags all over the place."
Augustine also suggests job seekers edit their posts for grammatical accuracy and limit sharing selfies on the Internet—according to a 2015 Jobvite survey, one in four recruiters view selfies negatively.
So what exactly should be on display for the whole digital world to see? It may seem an obvious no-no, but Wigton says he's witnessed a shocking amount of inappropriate instances available for public view on Twitter and Facebook. "You have to watch what you're posting and who's posting things about you. [People forget that] you're not in complete control of your digital persona," he says.
To avoid any embarrassing social media slip-ups, you should never post any illegal or promiscuous activity on your social channels. Sharing questionable content (i.e. sexually suggestive tweets, the sharing of culturally offensive articles on Facebook) certainly won't earn you extra points from a potential employer. Even if you're extremely picky about the photos you post, you should also be wary of what your friends post about you. Turn off the ability to auto-tag yourself in Facebook photos, and only choose to share photos of yourself that you wouldn't mind potential employers to see. Be extra vigilant—you never know when one inappropriate spring break photo montage could rear its ugly head!
2. Cultivate your brand identity
No matter what industry you plan on pursuing professionally, your social accounts should reflect who you are as a person, including your values and your professional and personal interests. Augustine advises that you may even want to consider upgrading your profile pictures to high-quality, professional headshots for every social account, especially on LinkedIn.
While an obvious choice for a professional, polished social media account, but there are more ways than LinkedIn to capture potential employers' attention. For those seeking jobs in marketing, design, public relations or architecture, Wigton says that Pinterest can be a valuable tool used to boost your portfolio. He recommends the site as a unique platform for promoting your resumé, as well as a way to define your personal brand aesthetic.
When it comes to privacy settings, Wigton says job seekers should take note that making an Instagram account private may look "suspicious" to recruiters. Alternatively, Augustine makes the case for using a different nickname for a personal account if you'd prefer to share some of your social content with a select group, and increase the privacy settings on your Facebook or Instagram accounts.
3. Network with a purpose
The digital age has completely changed how employers communicate with potential employees. Wigton recommends using LinkedIn as the premier digital networking tool when job-hunting.
"Keep your account up to date, share relevant articles and don't be afraid to connect with professionals you want to talk to," says Wigton. "Don't be overly pushy, but it never hurts to take a chance and be bold when you have nothing to lose." Even the simple task of liking your favorite companies' posts on LinkedIn is a great way to stay on recruiters' radars without making a scene. Augustine also pushes her clients to request LinkedIn endorsements from former employers who are willing to help them showcase their talents and specific skill sets to interested recruiters.
Augustine tells her clients to follow their favorite employer's social accounts and keep track of their recruiting-specific Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. It's not a faux pas to slide into a recruiter's DMs if you're driven enough!
"Show them your high level of interest by sharing your work via your networks to start meaningful conversations," says Augustine. "Don't waste an opportunity to connect by demanding a job, however; you don't want to come across as demanding or entitled."
Using social media to your professional advantage may help you land some of the best opportunities of your career. Just keep in mind that whatever you post on the internet is there forever, no matter how much damage control you perform. But with a clean digital trail and a monitored, tactful social media presence, you're bound to impress interviewers and recruiters alike. Now you just need to brush up your resume and start prepping for that big interview!