Emilio Lorenzo is a career adviser in NSU’s Office of Career Development. His column, a new biweekly feature of The Current, will provide insights, tricks and tips to help you reach your career goals, market yourself effectively and stay proactive in the job market.
In a world where social media has expanded to the point that having a Facebook account is common practice, aspiring professionals must see this trend as an opportunity to network and build their overall brand effectively.
The growth of social media has led to the emergence of websites like LinkedIn, which offers students an avenue to connect with professionals, engage in meaningful discussions and market experiences strategically to the outside world. To reap social media’s benefits, you must understand and implement correct practices and overlook common myths.
You may be thinking, “Wait, social media can get me a job? I’m still trying to figure out how to post a video on Instagram.” Take a deep breath and realize that social networking can still be a fun part of your daily life, as long as you approach it strategically.
Work to understand the privacy settings on your various social media accounts and develop a heightened awareness of how certain posts will shape the opinions of potential employers. Everyone has had a friend on Facebook who shares way too much information on his or her profile. This past year being a presidential election year, many people felt obliged to post their positions on various social and political issues, which led to further meaningful discussions. But it could also be taken the wrong way by employers, as some stances may seem controversial in the American business culture.
The problem lies mainly in social media’s convenience; in a matter of mere seconds, your post on Twitter or Facebook can go from a personal opinion to a worldwide understanding of your stance on a topic and, thus, may be subject to the scrutiny associated with such a perspective. A safe strategy to be implemented on social media is to act as if your employers and clients have full access to your accounts.
Facebook is a great tool for connecting with friends, family and colleagues, but because it’s so popular for personal use, you may unknowingly post content which could damage your overall professional branding to employers.
If, for example, an employer is hiring for a position and deciding between two or three applicants, he or she may decide to do an extensive background search. The existence of photos or videos depicting drinking or other damaging practices on an applicant’s profile will convey a message of unprofessionalism and, as a result, possibly prevent him or her from being offered the position. I mean, would you hire someone who has pictures of themselves doing keg stands or throwing eggs at cars?
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn was created as an avenue for employers and students to build and maintain long-lasting networking bridges. When used correctly, LinkedIn can help you be proactive in the job search and develop a strong network before graduation, which will put you in the best position to find your ideal role.
I always suggest that students include their LinkedIn address in resumes and emails, as part of their contact information, as it may peak the curiosity of the employer to visit that student’s profile. When an employer visits your account and notices shared connections, he or she may be inclined to call those individuals and inquire about your work style or fit within the industry.
LinkedIn can also be a highly useful tool after attending a professional conference, as you can connect with employers you met and continue to strengthen the relationship, by sharing articles of interests or engaging in meaningful discussions. It is important to follow correct protocol on LinkedIn by including an updated resume on your profile and, unlike Facebook, only connecting with individuals whom you’ve met or have been introduced to by a mutual friend or colleague. Your LinkedIn account should be focused toward desired careers and must avoid the use of jargon from your past jobs. Instead, use terminology, skills and responsibilities that highlight your fit for the field as a whole.
In today’s American business culture, mastering your social media accounts will lead to stronger branding strategies to put you in a position for success.