The art of landing a job is tricky, add a global pandemic and you’ve got something of a pickle. The places you’re interested in aren’t hiring, no one’s responding to your emails, and networking feels completely out of the question. Your dream job might seem out of reach, but what if it’s just at your fingertips? The key to locking in the job of your dreams might live in the same places as your slice of life comedy videos, 280 character news updates, and cute puppy pictures: social media. Now more than ever people are using social media to network and build their personal brands.
From 2011 to 2016 company recruiting on social media increased by 28 percent according to Undercover Recruiter. And that number is likely to have gone up in recent years, as social media has only continued to grow. Emily Durham, a Senior Recruiter at Intuit and host of the podcast The Straight Shooter Recruiter, uses social media to teach people about interview best practices, using social media to network, and healthy work mindsets so you can get that job, promotion, or raise.
To find out how to leverage social media to get closer to your career goals, we spoke with Durham about the new landscape of recruiting and networking Here’s what she had to say.
Use Your Social Media As A Portfolio
You spend all this time in school, on weekends, at your jobs building portfolios of work that show just how much talent you have. Your portfolio is a collection of work that you are proud to show off and it usually ends up sitting on your desktop or a private webpage with a passcode for potential employer’s eyes only.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re confident and comfortable with sharing your work on social media, you can turn your socials into mini portfolios.
“Whether you’re a software engineer, posting apps you’ve built, or if you’re in a business program and you’d like to post case studies that you’ve been working on, these are great ways to build your credibility and present yourself as a thought leader,” said Durham.
Don’t take your knowledge and skillset for granted. You are intelligent, and you have value to add, so go out there and add it!
Leverage Social Media to Learn More About Your Industry
If putting yourself in the spotlight on social media doesn’t feel natural for you, that’s okay! There’s no rule saying that you have to participate as a creator. Participating with social media as a thoughtful consumer of relevant content still puts you miles ahead of the game.
Go ahead, follow that writer that you admire on Twitter, or follow that entrepreneur on TikTok that inspires you. Curate your feed to always be bettering you and building you up. By following thought leaders, you’ll be up to date on the latest discussions in your field and have a well-informed opinion on developments in your industry.
It may seem like the only way to make yourself stand out is by producing content, but you can take a big sigh of relief because that’s not true. At the end of the day, everyone is different. Some people are more extroverted and some are more introverted and that’s something to be embraced.
“If you’re someone who’s a bit more private, that’s not going to hinder your career, just make sure you’re going for organizations that respect that and respect that element of your personality,” said Durham.
BONUS: You can get your name out there without creating content by replying to or commenting on content from thought leaders in your industry. Who knows, they might even reply—boom, connection!
‘No Shame in the DM Game’
In previous years, reaching out to someone on their personal social media to network and grab a cup of coffee was a weird thing to do. But Durham says the game has changed. The walls that separate higher-ups and spunky interns dying to caffeinate with them are crumbling.
“You peel back the layers of all the things you’re supposed to say and the blazer you’re supposed to wear. It’s jeans and a t-shirt. ‘Tell me why you love your job.’ Those connections are so much more high value than rigid formal networking,” said Durham.
There’s more freedom and access to people than before, but there are also things you should keep in mind before hitting send on your message to a potential mentor/employer.
1. Share about yourself
2. Reach out with the intent to learn
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Share About Yourself
Good relationships, especially professional ones, are never one-sided.
“Don’t be scared to share a little bit about yourself. It’s not that helpful if you’re reaching out to someone saying, ‘Hi, I love your profile, let’s connect.’ Okay. That’s great. But who are you as well?”
An easy way to give an employer a taste for who you are and what your personal brand is is by sharing your social media with them. It’ll help you stand out from the others trying to get in touch with them as well and it’ll give them something extra to remember you by.
Hey, I’m [your name]. I do [X]. I saw your profile has [X]. I’d love to learn about that. Let’s connect! [Link out to socials/portfolio].
Reach Out With The Intent to Learn
When job hunting, it doesn’t serve you well to go in for the kill right away. When you use social media to network, think critically about the people in your network that you want to consistently learn from over time and then reach out. It’s vital to come as your authentic self, be honest about why you’re reaching out, and be grateful for people’s time and energy regardless of the outcome.
“Of course we’re all reaching out to people because we want to land our dream job, but it’s important that we build genuine connections before we start asking for favors, right?” said Durham.
Be Your Authentic Self
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“[With] social media, there is a fine line to walk because everything that you post, you want to be authentic to your brand and who you are as a person,” said Durham.
Do yourself a favour and show up exactly as you are. If you’re genuine in your online presence, people will be attracted to that. If you’re unsure about what your personal brand is Durham has a TikTok specifically to help you figure that out.
According to Durham, a personal brand is what people think of when they think of you. It comes naturally in the quality of your work, how you make others feel, and in the way you carry yourself. Durham suggests that to build your personal brand, pick two or three characteristics that you want to embody and actively choose to act out those qualities every single day in all areas of your life (and when sharing on social media).
Your Content Should Align With Your Values
This goes hand in hand with being authentic to yourself. If you hold certain values that align with a company, you want those to shine through your profile so that employers see you as a clear fit.
“If I’m looking through someone’s social media, I’m never going to see their social life as a red flag…but I think it’s important that you’re posting content that’s appropriate. That’s kind, and frankly, that’s inclusive and mindful,” said Durham.
If you preach kindness and innovation, you want those values to be upheld in the content you put forward.
Social Media is a Complement To Your Life, Not Your Life
The last thing that Durham notes is that as much as social media is a useful tool, it’s easy to get lost in it. It’s easy to get consumed by the fear that your voice doesn’t matter or that people aren’t perceiving you the way you intended. The fix for that is to have people in your real life that are uplifting and believe in you. It’s also important to have a healthy mindset and reasonable expectations going in.
“[It helps to be] comfortable with pushback. It’s okay for people to have different opinions. I’ve had people post on some of my posts [that they] don’t agree with this or we should do that or you should do this. And that’s okay…I go into it with the mindset that social media is a complement to my life. It’s not my entire life,” said Durham
By thinking this way you don’t give what happens on social media the power to alter how you feel about yourself.
In the past, showing an employer your social media felt awkward and embarrassing, but now you can embrace your employers checking your Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram. By using social media to network, building a personal brand, and establishing a presence, you can stand out from other people in the job pool. You’ll look professional, thoughtful, and you’ll be able to learn from others participating in the social media space.
By consuming industry leaders’ content or by reaching out to them directly you have an unprecedented level of access to people and information—the opportunities are endless. So go in with the mindset of wanting to learn and grow in your personal and professional life. People will appreciate the authenticity, and who knows, you might make the connection that lands you the job you’ve always wanted.