With so much talk about cleaning up our social media profiles, making accounts private or using online aliases, we can sometimes forget that our social media presence can actually work in our favour when it comes to job hunting.
Having a strong presence on social media can positively impact your face-to-face networking activities, as well as help you connect with people and tap into the hidden job market of positions that are only advertised through word of mouth.
Here are four tips to help you use social media to your advantage.
1. Convey a positive online image
Creating a social media presence is not an overnight employment fix. It takes time and dedication, but if utilized correctly, social media can help give you credibility as a professional in your industry.
In order to understand how you are being perceived online, consider using a social media monitoring website like Reppler.com. Reppler is a free service that scans through your profiles on the biggest social media networks -- Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr -- and gives you an indication of privacy and security risks and inappropriate content, and an overall image score out of 100.
2. Craft your own personal brand
Marketing yourself on social media means having the ability to position yourself as an influencer and expert in your field. A great way to impress potential employers is to have your own blog, Facebook page or Twitter account where you discuss the industry you are most interested in. If you take the time to make your content memorable, it will get shared and spread throughout various social media networks.
3. Build your online network
Nowadays, as much or more networking happens online than in traditional face-to-face events. Being able to network on a daily basis is arguably one of the biggest benefits of social media, so job seekers need to take full advantage of how easy it is to make connections.
There are plenty of ways to grow your network and engage people in discussion, such as participating in Twitter chat, "liking" and engaging others on Facebook pages, and sending personalized messages to people you want to connect with on LinkedIn.
4. Don't wait for opportunities
If you want to use social media to your advantage, you will need to pursue and network with people who are more influential than you are. Talk, listen and learn from them. As a job seeker, it is very rare that you would ever get the opportunity to directly engage high-ranking executives and industry influencers, so take advantage of it while you can.
â€¨One of the main functions of social media is to build your connections. But you have to remember to take your networking offline and meet face-to-face, too. That's where the real magic happens. Attend Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter meet-ups, check out industry-related conferences, or just invite someone out for coffee.
How are you using social media to help advance your career?