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Using Social Media to Advance Your Career

With well over 500 million users on the top three social networking sites alone, there can be little doubt that social media is a powerful tool for business networking. Many sites provide means to advertise a business for free and forums to discuss ideas with other professionals. It isn’t any wonder that headhunters have started looking to these sites to find qualified candidates and assess their capabilities. The fact is that an appreciable amount of what gets posted online by any given person will be seen by someone else deciding whether or not they are right for a job. The advantage of this phenomenon is that savvy professionals can use social media to advance their careers. By projecting an online persona that puts their best foot forward, they attract the attention of high-powered headhunters who will offer them opportunities based on the content they post.

By following a few simple tips, social media can be transformed from a purely frivolous pursuit to a potent opportunity producing tool. The first step is to consider what social media should say to a potential employer. Think about what businesses are searching for and what keywords the headhunters are typing into a search engine when looking to fill a position. Many companies are looking directly on social media sites to circumvent the search engine altogether. To catch the attention of these recruiters, it is important to have a complete profile with a professional picture and an attention grabbing display of experience and abilities. Prominent profiles are ones whose owners are active on these sites, participating in user discussions and expanding their network with past colleagues. Most social media sites now include areas to embed outside links such as professional websites or blogs. It is possible to gain a reputation among fellow users that will cause them to give recommendations within their own companies.

For all the valuable opportunities that social media provides, there are also a few faux pas to avoid. There have been countless articles written on the dangers of posting too much information online. However, the problem is not the amount of information, but rather the message it sends. It should go without saying that poor posting practices can negatively impact a candidate’s chances of being selected for a position. After applying for a job, companies will often look up applicants online. Tremendous amounts of information can be summoned up on a search engine with a few keywords, the good and the bad. The key to attracting the attention of businesses is to use the right keywords. There are often places on social media sites to post interests and past working history. Successful professionals use these spaces as tools to make an online resume that will project their capabilities to a potential employer. Social media can be utilized to advance careers in a changing world.

Kieron Casey is a BA (Hons) Journalism graduate who blogs regularly about careers, social media and headhunters.


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