On 26th November 2014 I took part as an expert panelist in the Guardian Careers debate on using social media to source a job of your dreams. You can find the complete debate on their website here. In this article, I will provide a compilation of the most relevant questions from the public accompanied by my answers. Hope this will be useful for you and I will be keen to hear your feedback and ideas on the topic.
Q: I currently have 2 ‘jobs’ listed on my linkedin profile (my proper job I get paid for, and also my artistic ‘freelance’ stuff I do in my spare time), I’ve been wondering lately if I should keep these as separate profiles? As perhaps it could make me look unfocused?
A: It largely depends on whether your freelancing is closely related to your job in terms of skills and experiences, if so, I would definitely keep them all in one profile. And even if not related, then I would suggest having both in one profile as each one would enrich the other and make yourself appear as an interesting rounded person.
Q: How can someone who has been out of the workplace for a while (caring for family for example) start using social media credibly so that she/he will appear attractive to employers in 2015?
A: First of all, I would suggest selecting social media channels that are most closely related to your personal profile, interests and your target jobs. For instance, you could perhaps start with properly updating your LinkedIn profile and your Twitter account so that both are in good shape. Then I would try to get in touch with previous employer(s) before your period of absence from the workplace and ask them to provide you with recommendations for your LI profile to enhance your credibility.
Then have a think and brainstorm all creative, work-related activities which you may have done during your period of absence from the workplace and list them on your LI profile and under volunteering. Period of absences to care for children can be very productive in accumulating invaluable experiences and skills highly transferable into the workplace. And whatever you do, avoid losing confidence and persevere. All the best of luck!
Q: What advice do you have to make your online profile stand out, and do you have any views on how to make the best out of your involvement in discussion groups?
A: The key piece of advice I would give is to keep your group involvement ONLY to the most relevant ones as quality is more important than quantity.
Also make sure you add a smiley professional photo to the profile. So often I see gloomy faced on LI and they are not very inviting to get in touch with.
And most importantly, keep your profile up to date as it is in effect your online CV and needs to be put in as much effort as into your written document CV.
Q: I have a personal and a ‘professional’ twitter account (that I consider ‘clean’ in case anyone professional does look me up). Just realised I’ve tweeted a bit about political stuff and petitions etc on occasion, just wondering if that could have a negative effect (especially if the person researching you was opposed to your views).
A: It could of course but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You have the right to your own opinion and as long as it is professionally written, it should be fine. However, Facebook would probably be a better place for petitions etc as this is a more suited social medium for this kind of activity.
Q: I’m an experienced manager with over 16 years management experience in post-16 education. How can I use social media as a job-hunting tool to raise my profile, source ‘hidden’ roles and secure employment to match my skills and experience?
A: All the previous comments about LinkedIn apply in your case as well. I would also add aim to expand your contact base every day by a few contacts at least in the industries and companies of most interest to you and aim to take the newly built relationships offline for a coffee for instance to properly introduce yourself and make a lasting impression in order to build a high quality network.
Also you can demonstrate your expertise in the field by publishing posts on LI as it now allows you to do this on their platform.
And keep your industry knowledge up to date by following the relevant influencers on Twitter and re-tweeting interesting pieces of information or commenting on something that has genuinely impressed you.