For today’s job seeker, a professional social media profile can be a complement to a well prepared resume. A growing number of companies look at prospective employees’ social media profiles to learn more about applicants. Crafting a professional social media profile allows you to leverage this fact to provide more information to interested employers in a manner that shows you understand today’s social media platforms and are comfortable with technology. However, it can also be a stumbling block if you do not prepare your social media presence with the same care you put into your resume. Fortunately, you can easily start to professionalize your profile with just a couple of steps.
First, separate your personal social media profile from your professional one by establishing separate accounts for each. Assuming you already have an e-mail address, you might consider establishing a professional e-mail address to separate your private life from your professional one. Additionally, having PartytilUdrop@ or KISSfan4ever@ as an e-mail address may give the wrong impression to a prospective employer, unless you are looking to plan raves in the desert or want a job as a roadie. Keep those for your private life, and start a new one for your professional side. Something like joe.buildre.eng@ or sally.ardwork.pmp@ helps to tell prospective employers that you are serious about what you do.
Once you have a professional e-mail, establish a professional presence on a site, such as LinkedIn, Monster, The Ladders or Glassdoor, and use it to complement your resume. This is the site you will list on your resume for your professional social media presence, not your private Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other account. Connect it to your professional e-mail account to keep your personal and professional profiles separate. Add additional details about your professional experience, links to professional associations or list your volunteer activities to enhance and complement your resume. Consider adding those details which enhance the items already on your resume, or bullets that you might not have included on your resume in order to keep it short. At the very least, you will want to list your career history and ensure it matches the timeline on your resume.
Your professional page ought to have a fairly recent photo of you, say within the last year or so. For most, a professional photo means either a suite and tie or business casual, something that says you are a serious professional. But, despite what some will tell you, your photo, like your resume, should be tailored to the audience you are seeking to influence. If you are looking for employment as a ski instructor or alpine guide, then a photo of you on the slopes or with a three day beard fits the image for the employment you are seeking. By the same token, I would not recommend a photo of you on the beach if you want to be an accountant for an international bank. Target your image to the audience you are trying to influence.
And don’t just take a selfie or find any old picture and add it to your page. Photoshopping your military photo is a no-go (yes, it has been done). A great many professionals have a photo professionally done, but it is not a requirement. However, if you have trouble focusing a camera or deciding what background to use, you might want to consider having your photo professionally done. Occasionally, a job fair will offer to do this for participants for free, so there is no excuse not to do it. You might consider posting your professional military photo, which is fine during your transition. I am a firm believer that almost any professional photo is better than none at all. However, you might want to consider changing it to a civilian one at the first opportunity to show you have made the transition to civilian life. Once you have a photo you like, I strongly recommend asking someone else’s opinion before you post it. Does the photo convey the image you want to them? If so, post it. If not, try again.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, adjust the privacy settings on your private social media accounts. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, Kik or some other social media venue, you will want to limit who can see your personal photos, tweets, etc., by ensuring your privacy settings limit who can view what you post to your private account. I am sure you have read the same stories I have about job-seekers who were passed over because of something a potential employer saw on their private, but publicly visible, social media site. In the digital age, it only takes a minute to search for someone online and find a photo, a previous address, an old article or posting. Many employers utilize an online search as one more tool in their decisionmaking process for applicants. As you build your professional profile, you want to ensure employers looking for your social media profile focus on your professional one and not your private one. Adjusting the privacy settings on your accounts will go a long way to making this happen. However, it will not prevent employers from seeing things on the internet that you do not control. To see what they might find, search for your own name or a previous title on the web. Hopefully, you will not be surprised by what you find.
In the digital age, a professional social media profile is a good way to complement to your resume. It allows you to share additional information and allow a potential employer to form a more complete picture of you. Just like your resume, it takes time and effort to make your professional social media profile distinctive. You will need to maintain it in much the same way if you want to see results. In the end, a professional social media profile will enhance your resume and make you more accessible to potential employers. Following the suggestions in this post will get your professional profile started off on the right foot. Good luck.