Social Media 101: How You Can Effectively Leverage This Online Phenomenon To Brand Yourself

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all social media outlets used primarily as platforms for interactive communities to share current happenings. Society has typically viewed the use of these sites for entertainment purposes, but I propose that military job seekers approach them as “networking resources.” Think of them as online résumés!

Let’s begin with the more professional application – LinkedIn. Many of you may be familiar with this website, but are you taking advantage of all the tools it provides? One of the most important things to remember when using this site is to build a completed profile, which means you need to fill in ALL the information fields. Keep paragraphs brief while highlighting key accomplishments. Remember to try and limit any unnecessary military jargon. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to search for potential candidates, so make sure that you include current contact information to make it easy for them to get in touch with you. LinkedIn also provides various subscription plans that offer added features including the ability to send e-mails, see who’s viewed your profile, as well as other useful bonus capabilities for a modest price.

I strongly recommend joining reputable groups that are related to your field. Not only does this offer you the ability to network and connect with industry professionals, but many of them generate thoughtful discussions. LinkedIn also offers a feature that will generate groups you may like based on your activity. Many companies use this website to post jobs, so you can also use this to conduct job searches and apply for positions. Finally, get recommendations from peers, clients and superiors who can endorse your work. References are a great way to market yourself, so make sure you only connect with reputable professionals.

Facebook has gained a lot of negative attention in the media lately. To avoid harmful consequences, steer clear of posting inappropriate pictures and disparaging remarks. If you are a job seeker, it’s important for you to recognize there are many mistakes that can occur on this site which could prove to be quite costly. Many employers conduct social media searches on potential employees to “dig up dirt on you.” According to a study conducted by OPP, “65% of employers said they were likely to look at a potential employee’s online presence prior to interviewing them.” Don’t give them a reason to deny you an offer because of what could be considered questionable judgment on Facebook! First thing to nail down: know how to manage your account to set up privacy precautions. It’s important for you to control how you connect with people, as well as how you and your friends share information. A good rule of thumb to follow: if you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing something with your family, don’t post it online where the world can see.

Twitter limits the number of characters you can “tweet,” but don’t let that scare you away from trying it out. It may not produce many leads for job seekers, but it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the overall gist of the website since many companies use this to promote their services.

With technology becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s global business practices, it’s imperative that you showcase that you are savvy with social media tools, regardless of your industry. Keep in mind that despite the wonderful opportunities these sites can create, they can also wreak havoc if not used properly. A little common sense and precautionary judgment goes a long way.