Your social media profiles tell a story. You might not think of them in that way, but that doesn’t stop it being true. They form a significant part of the online narrative that tells other people who you are and what you do.
If this sounds vague and unimportant to you, don’t switch off. If you are able to understand what this means and how to use it for your benefit, you’ll put yourself in a much stronger position when it comes to connecting with other people online, whether that is for job-seeking purposes or for more general networking.
An easy place to start is your LinkedIn profile. This is likely the social media profile that you’ve paid most attention to when it comes to thinking about employment, and its the one that most clearly displays what you do in the world of work. The thing about LinkedIn is that there are loads of things that can be tweaked that all work together to build a picture of you.
Your profile picture and job title are the first things that people see if you come up in a search or on their timelines, so think of these as your front cover. What are they saying about you? Do they give people an accurate idea about the rest of your life, or are they going to be disappointed when they look a little deeper? Are you making the most of them to show people what you’re good at? Your job title is your way to tell people what it is that you’re good at, so feel free to think outside the box with this. Your profile picture should look professional, yes, but you can still convey something of your personality or interests through the image that you choose. This is people’s gateway to your profile, so you need to make a good impression.
Once you get into your profile, you have your summary and work experience sections. This is where you have space to tell people what you’re all about. Don’t just stick to a point-by-point description of the projects that you’ve done, add some personal flair. What do you feel are your big successes? What skills do you have? What do you enjoy about what you do? More and more, employers are looking for people who are a good fit for their company, not just people who have the right skills. If employers can tell something about who you are as a person from your profile, you stand a much better chance of landing an interview at a company that is a great match for you. Your endorsed skills and recommendations are also part of this narrative, they’re like the positive reviews on the front pages of a book. Pursue these and don’t be afraid to ask for them if you know someone who would be able to give you a good recommendation!
LinkedIn is not the only social profile that employers will look at, however. Facebook, Twitter, and even sites like Instagram are all there for people to have a look at. With Facebook it’s probably a good idea to make most things private anyway, but it’s worth making sure that your profile picture, whilst not needing to be professional like LinkedIn, isn’t casting you in a bad light.
Twitter is different in that you can make it private, but many more people choose not to. I personally have a completely public Twitter profile with my real name as the username, and have never considered turning it private or anonymising it. If you follow the same route as me, you do need to be aware that employers can and probably will look at them. This doesn’t mean that Twitter needs to be professional in the way that LinkedIn is – mine certainly isn’t – but it does mean that you need to be aware of what you post. I am happy that everything that I post on Twitter could be seen by an employer, and I post about all sorts of things (well, mostly comics). Your Twitter account is supposed to be more personal and fun than LinkedIn, so own it. Show your personality and show what you’re like outside of the office, but just be mindful of what an employer might think when they look at it.
And remember to tie everything together with consistency. No one likes a story with major plot holes, and the same is true for your social profiles. By all means, show your professional life on LinkedIn and your personal life on Twitter – no one’s expecting you to post the same things on both – but don’t try to be a different person on each one. Really, the main things to avoid are obvious. Don’t lie on LinkedIn and contradict yourself on Twitter, and don’t use Twitter to vent any dissatisfaction with work or anything like that. Think before you post, be genuine, and your social media profiles will be a big asset for you.