Using Social Media in Your Career
In the past decade social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, blogs, etc.) has allowed us to extend our network beyond our location or geographical territory, and as a result, allowed us to communicate with friends, family, and business contacts from all around the world. As more employers and professionals are online than ever before, this is an opportunity for you to interact and network with them also! Consider making a separate account for your professional and business-related purposes.
1. Building a Professional Profile
Whichever social media platform you use, make sure your profile is professional and current. This means:
- Use a professional and not a casual picture. Be consistent through all your social media.
- Separate the personal from the professional e.g. restrict access on Facebook so professional contacts only see what is appropriate, only link relevant tweets to your LinkedIn profile, and remove articles or posts that could be considered inappropriate or offensive. Set up your privacy carefully on your social media.
- Update your profile regularly with relevant information.
- Research common keywords in your industry so that your profiles will be effective when employers use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).
- Google yourself. Is there information you would prefer professional contacts not see? Ask your friends to un-tag you and update your professional online presence to improve your search results.
- Introduce yourself when adding a new friend or requesting a connection. Rather than sending a generic link, explain who you are and why you would like to connect with them. Include information such as mutual friends or connections if applicable.
2. Building Your Network
- Import your contacts from your email. This can help you establish your first set of contacts, and eventually allow you to extend your network beyond just your mutual friends.
- Join groups that relate to your career area, and follow people in your industry. This could include professional associations, alumni groups, individuals or organizations who are tweeting or blogging about your career/industry area. LinkedIn also has groups such as “Students and Recent Grads” where students, recent grads, career professionals, and industry reps exchange useful information and leads.
- View the connections of your contacts. People you know may be connected to people in your career area. If so, ask your contacts for an introduction; remember to personalize requests, explaining why this connection could be helpful, and thank them for the intro.
3. Finding Career and Employment Information
Monitor and participate in group discussions.
You can learn a great deal about your career area/industry by listening to professionals and asking relevant questions.
Ask for advice.
Advice and information can help you understand what a career is really like as well as what you need to do to be competitive when you graduate. As you establish connections, you can ask about potential opportunities and hiring/recruitment practices, however, do not ask for job leads from the get-go. Get to know your contacts first.
Do not be ashamed to say you’re looking for work.
People have successfully used social media for their job search by letting their social media contacts and friends know that they are looking for work. Regardless of the platform you’re using, be sure to share these types of updates from time to time.
Company and job search.
LinkedIn can be especially helpful if you know of an organization that interests you already. By simply searching for the organization on LinkedIn you can find stats on the company, current employees, former employees, as well as past or current positions within the company. Use this specific search option to find a contact, or to set up an information interview with someone at an organization that interests you. Some industries and companies may have unique position titles. Take note of the ones you’re interested in and try to use these in your job search.
Access to this kind of information can be extremely helpful and can give you an advantage as an effective networker. Many organizations are using social media sites to share information about their operations. Use these platforms to find company information too.
Please note that this information is subject to change. It is best to refer to the original sources for the most up-to-date information.
Updated June 2023