In a world where it's easy for someone to find your various social media profiles, many employers are now going on Facebook, searching for and browsing your profile to see if you're a solid candidate and good fit for the company.
With that kind of transparency readily available, presenting the appropriate image of yourself online is crucial. Done right, it can be used to your advantage; here are some ways it can help boost your career. (For more, see No Wonder You're Not Getting Hired.)
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- Clean Up Your Facebook Account
Facebook was originally started to help students connect with each other. It's a casual site where you can post anything you'd like about yourself, or upload your recent vacation photos. Getting connected with someone from school is an easy way to network. That old college friend of yours might have a position available in her company, and you just might be the right fit or know someone who is.
Keep a clean Facebook profile, such as removing inappropriate and/or questionable material (like that wild night you had in Vegas), and insert information about your education, employers and interests. If you'd rather keep it strictly as a friends-only networking site, you can set your Facebook security settings to make your profile unsearchable and limit the visibility of any aspect of your profile. (To learn more, check out 6 Office Faux Pas You've Never Thought Of.)
- Update Your LinkedIn Profile
This is purely a career-networking website. Many people who have an account on LinkedIn are there to seek new business, make connections with other professionals and re-connect with former colleagues.
Even if you are shy about being online, this is the only site you should ever consider joining to boost your career. For many, it's handy to use LinkedIn like an online Rolodex of sorts, and is an informal way to keep in touch. The other bonus is that you aren't limited to just your connections, you can search your connections' networks and be quickly introduced to other professionals.
Set up a profile, talk only about your employers, accomplishments, projects, and what you're interested in (finding a job, hiring, etc). Don't forget to put career keywords to make your profile search-friendly.
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- Take Advantage of Twitter
Twitter shows very short updates from the people you follow. It's similar to Facebook because you can inform people of what is currently happening in your life, or quickly share interesting links, videos or photos.
If you own a company that needs a public relations help, or you're in a business where you need to look for freelance work, it can be easier to get business from word of mouth. For instance, if someone you are following is "tweeting" about looking for an expert, you can reply back saying that you're interested or retweet the message to someone you know who could help. Or if you own a small start-up company you can follow influential people and learn valuable business tips.
Sign up and start following people. You don't have to know everyone you follow, but they should be interesting and relevant. You can reply to anything the people you're following or retweet to the rest of your followers. If you work in public relations for instance, you can set up a work-related twitter feed talking about the industry you're in, and the next time you're being interviewed or you meet with a client, you can give them your twitter account to follow, and they can see how you might conduct yourself for the companies they're representing. At the very least, you come off as being savvy about social media and how to use it effectively. (Learn more in Tweeting: The Next New "Profession.)
- Create A Personal Website
If you are a freelancer, such as a web designer, having your own personal website can be a personalized and simple profile to showcase your resume online, so that people don't have to email and ask you for one. It's also a great way to showcase your work, because you just might find an employer who stumbles across your portfolio and finds it impressive.
You can create your own website that will be hosted on a server or simply check out sites like About.Me, where you can post a full-screen image of yourself, a short biography and links to your other social media accounts.
The Bottom Line
You can decide to opt out of many of the social media sites altogether, but these days, it doesn't hurt to be available on at least on one network that is relevant to your career. (For more, check out 7 Job-Hunting Tips For 2011.)
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