How to leverage social media for career advantage

How to leverage social media for career advantage

As a digital native, you know all too well that social media is the language of modern business. In fact, if you can demonstrate social media nous in everyday life you’ll also know that it can help to further your career and impress the VIPs on your professional radar.

Yet even if you have an Instagram following that numbers in the high thousands, feel confident that your Facebook privacy settings are locked down, or you once made it to the front page of Reddit,

You may still be surprised to learn how visible your online activity is to potential employers.

We all know a breach of social etiquette can affect your social standing. But did you know that violating something like the university’s Social Media Policy or a channel’s Community Guidelines can have severe consequences on your personal and professional life?

This short refresher will help you to navigate each social media channel (like a boss) and understand the personal, professional and legal ramifications of steering off course.

The internet never forgets

Figuring out how and when to post on each network is a real challenge, and one that you should take seriously.

If you’re operating in the university ecosystem or a work channel, for instance, it’s important to be extra aware of your environment and how you interact with others. This may seem like common-sense but don’t let overconfidence be your downfall!

Did you know that if you make a rude complaint on an organisation’s public page, even on a ‘closed network’ like Facebook, that a simple Google Search will bring it up?

Were you aware that even if you don’t ‘@’ a brand or use a hashtag on Twitter that your activity can be found because of your use of brand names and keywords?

That’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Hiring managers and human resource executives have powerful, data-driven candidate screening tools at their fingertips. Not only do they readily use search engines to evaluate potential employees but they also employ social media scraping tools to provide insights into your behaviour outside the confines of your resume. They can also leverage public data sources using natural language processers and relevant keywords to reveal more information about your internet history.

Never forget: Every move you make online leaves a trail of virtual crumbs that leads to your personal profile. An off-colour joke or an ironic tweet about how much you hate class has the potential to tank your career.

Be aware of your environment

Let’s explore each channel by relating it to a real-life analogy. As you read through each of these, think about the risks and benefits to your future career should you agitate in this space.

Facebook is like the pub – It’s an informal place where old mates hang out to have a chin-wag, swap stories and interact with people they’ve never spoken to before. While conversation flows freely, there are few rules and people often misbehave. You tend to gravitate towards people who express similar interests and opinions to your own but people often share things they later feel embarrassed about.

Twitter is like a cocktail party – It’s high energy. Everyone’s turned up to learn the news of the day and throw around witty quips. Lots of people are talking but far fewer are listening. And there’s always someone who likes stirring the pot. Their behaviour can derail a lively conversation, sometimes with brutal consequences. But on the other hand, great stories spread like wildfire on Twitter, sparking new trends and legendary sparring matches.

Instagram is like a gallery opening or fashion show – Pretty much everyone at this event is here to see and be seen. It’s full of stunning, inspirational images and beautiful people. It’s social in as much as it acts as a visual repository of how we’d like our lives to appear to the outside world. So we interact with and follow those whose aesthetics reflect our own values or creative endeavours.

LinkedIn is like a corporate event – Mirroring both your workplace and an important networking event, the people at the LinkedIn event are here to work, learn, connect and collaborate with like-minded professionals. You put your best foot forward, you dress up, you watch your language. You’re not here to party; you’re to broadcast your potential as a future leader and team player.

Snapchat is your internal monologue – The growing appeal of Snapchat is that you can share moments almost like a stream-of-consciousness. It’s like a visual narrative of your day. The fleeting nature of the content (there one second, gone the next) lends it at ephemeral quality, encouraging you to share moments in time with a devil may care attitude.

Plan what to say or plan to fail

Managing your online presence is of vital importance in the digital age. You don’t even need to be hacked to find yourself in hot water.

While there’s scope for creativity and self-expression, knowing when to bite your tongue, respond with a GIF and most importantly – speak with your own authentic voice – is all part of communicating on social media like an expert.

So before letting your fingers fly, consider who might see that activity. Ask yourself: Would I say this to my mum or to my boss? Aim to always be respectful and put yourself in other people’s shoes.

Let your own unique voice shine; just remember that some conversations are better said in real life.

Watch this and learn more about how to stay on the right side of the law and La Trobe’s own Social Media Guidelines.

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