Social media, including sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, can help you find a job and connect with people who can assist you with growing your career.
However, it works both ways. Social media, when used the wrong way, can backfire and jeopardize a job offer or even your current job. It’s important to be careful and consider what you should do on social media to aid your job search... as well as some bad habits that are best avoided.
When you're looking for a job or positioning yourself for career growth, it's important to have an online presence to showcase your skills and experience. Your online social media pages will also help you connect with contacts who can expedite your job search and assist you with moving up the career ladder. Take the time to ensure that all your work-related social pages are updated and ready to be reviewed prior to starting a hunt.
Does the employment history on your resume match what's on your LinkedIn profile? Does the information you have on your Facebook page (if it's public) match up with the information you have elsewhere online? It's fine if you rework your job descriptions, for example, because targeting your resume is a good thing when applying for a job. What's not okay is if your job titles, companies, and dates don't jive. That's a red flag for prospective employers.
Employers check out candidates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites. And, it's pretty routine for connect with colleagues on social media sites, too. That means that anything you post may be read by your employer or co-workers. If you share company business (good or bad) or post inappropriate content, you could get in trouble with your current manager, and it could even cost you your job, especially if you post on social media while at work. It's not just your current employer — hiring managers often screen candidates' social media, and will avoid interviewing or hiring candidates who post inappropriately.
What shows up when you search your name? Most likely, there's a ton of information, from tweets to photos. It's quite easy for employers to find information you may have preferred to keep private. Much of it can be found by Googling your name. Be aware of what shows up, and if any photos or posts could handicap your job search, change your profile settings or delete the individual posts.
Be really careful what you tweet. You don't know who might read it. Just search Twitter for "I hate my job" for an example of what I mean. Hiring managers and bosses are using Twitter, too, and if you say it someone will probably read it. Tweets show up in Google search and you don't want to lose your job because you didn't think before you tweeted, even if you hate it.
You may think you're only sharing those photos from last night's very late party with your Facebook connections, but often, people you don't know can see your photos that you're tagged in or read your posts. Take some time to review what strangers, as well as friends of friends, can see.
Build your network well in advance of when you need it. Make connections in your industry and career field. Follow career experts. Talk to your contacts on Twitter or the other networking sites. Join Groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, then post and join the discussion. Be engaged and proactive in your communications. By building a network in advance, you won't have to scramble if you unexpectedly lose your job or decide it's time to move on.
In a nutshell, give to get. Networking works both ways — the more you are willing to help someone else, the more likely they will be to help you. Take some time every day to reach out to your connections. Write a recommendation on LinkedIn, offer to introduce them to another connection, share an article or news with them. Giving to get really does work — your connections are more likely to return the favor when you've offered to help them.
There is a school of thought that says you should connect with everyone when you’re using social media. However, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to connecting. The first question you should ask yourself when making connections is how can the person help me? The second question is what can I do to help them? Before you ask someone to connect, consider what you have in common. That common denominator, regardless of what it is, is what's going to help with your job search.
The temptation, of course, when you're job searching is to spend time looking at job postings, perhaps uploading your resume to apply, talking to contacts, or posting about the trials and tribulations of your job search on a Facebook page. If you were to do that, you certainly wouldn't be the first (or the only) person to do so. Many people job search from work but given the way companies monitor employees, it's not wise to use your work computer or email account for job searching. Or, if you do, be really careful how you do it.