In the last year, I have attended three job interviews. And in all three, I was asked to share my social media profiles. Yes, people (including your potential employers) want to know who you are and what you represent, and there is no easier way to find that out than scrolling through your social media.
Social media has steadily become a huge part of our lives – so much so that speaking of its benefits is a cliché. But having experiences like mine makes you give deeper thought to the subject. After every interview, I always left wondering if my profiles were good enough or if they would break my chances of landing the job.
Depending on who you are, you use social media differently from others. And for a freelancer, it can be the cheapest and most effective way to create and showcase your personal brand: who you are, your skills and what you represent.
These are existential questions, and having to communicate them professionally, while still retaining some personality is no walk in the park.
Always bear in mind that your social media profile could be the first source of information a potential client or employer gets about you. It’s like the appetizer before the business meal, and the dessert you leave behind.
So, what are first steps to use your profiles to find your next job?
When people visit your profile, they should be able to get a sense of your interests, skills and experiences. They should leave the page with a lot more information than they started out with, and a niggling feeling that they would love to return and work with you.
Choose platforms that compliment your skills
In your quest to find more clients as a freelancer, there is the push to be on every platform: Medium, Twitter, Instagram, even TikTok.
It’s a good thing if you can effectively manage all of them. There are tools like Hootsuite and CoSchedule that help you to manage multiple accounts. In fact, most of the social media platforms allow you to link your profiles across platforms in their settings i,e, you can link Twitter and Instagram to Facebook, and that makes things easy.
But every social media platform has a dominant content form that it supports. Facebook and LinkedIn are good for long-form content, Instagram best for images, and YouTube for videos. Your niche should determine your communication style.
Instagram is best for a graphic designer, YouTube for a coach, and Facebook for an aspiring blogger. There are also other paid platforms such as Medium and Vimeo. My point is, choose the platform that lets you showcase your skills in the best way.
This will allow you to create an attractive virtual portfolio accessible to the world. The platform can also serve as your brand base, from where you distribute more content to your other accounts.
LinkedIn is a Must
I’ve taken the first step. I’ve created my online portfolio and gotten some visibility. What now?
I suggest you create your resume/CV. Where? On LinkedIn.
For any serious professional, LinkedIn is a must. I can’t say this loud enough. The platform has maintained its reputation as the best professional network and being on it, says you are a professional too.
I visit my LinkedIn profile often to read publications and search for people I can add to my network. (I met Kelechi of Week of Saturdays on LinkedIn and here we are).
Which leads me to the second biggest thing you can’t ignore – Network Networth. It’s like Potato Potato. It’s the soup around your fufu. Forgive me- I love food.
Networking (with the right people) complements you. It tells your potential employers that you know your field well enough to roll with other experts in the game.
The added benefit of a good network are referrals. After about a year of leaving my job at a mining firm, I was contacted by the CEO of an NGO to fill a position similar to the one I had vacated. I referred another colleague on LinkedIn as I was already employed. Coincidentally, we were mutual friends to the CEO, and that served as the perfect endorsement. Imagine if she wasn’t on Linkedin, wasn’t a connection, or hadn’t shared that she was unemployed?
Get the right people in your corner: follow them, share their posts, comment when necessary, and let your profile speak for you.
If you are a freelancer, check, actually stalk, the pages of organizations and individuals you would like to work for. You might find and catch a very big fish.
Join relevant groups
Still on networking, join the right and relevant professional groups. There are several of these all over social media. Join the groups that align with your career and industry. Join conversations and stay involved.
I started off a journalist, become a communications officer, and am now veering into digital communications. I have since started looking for communities in digital communications and digital marketing to follow. I follow relevant hashtags on Instagram and keep up to date in other simple ways using technology.
Groups are also a great way to share your knowledge and create awareness of your skills. When you do so, you draw attention to your brand and create new opportunities for yourself. You will be seen as resourceful; a positive tag that can take you places.
Relevant communities also allow you to be familiar with the trends in your industry. Is there a new way of doing things? Is there smarter technology or a new discovery? You would know if you are in the right corner.
Watch what you say and do
A story is told of a journalist who went for an interview at the United Nations. He was undergoing a recruitment process for a prestigious position. All was well, until he was asked to share his Facebook account name. “You seem like a perfect match for the job, but we cannot work with you.” The interviewer announced. Why? He had made some homophobic statements three years ago on his Facebook feed. Three years ago, yet it came back to haunt him.
I have found myself in situations where I want so badly to vent on social media but stay quiet instead. If you want to be in the good books of recruiters and employers, you have to do so too. The thing is, you can never tell when one thing you said will become a problem for you in today’s culture, so avoid negative words and emotions all together.
It is good to be spontaneous but better to be tactful.
On that note, I will end this essay before I start spewing gibberish.
The key takeaway is this: be the best version of yourself online through your social media accounts. It is cheapest, easiest and most effective way to get your foot in some doors.
Are you on social media for the job or the joke? That’s a question you have to answer.