Aside from keeping up to date with the social trends, catching up with family and friends and laughing at memes, there are various benefits of using social media.
Like it or not, by using social media, you build your own online image. Your tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram pictures are what others use to perceive who you are as a person – including a potential employer. What this means for you is something you decide. A positive image could attract employers and set you apart from the competition, whilst inappropriate use might mean you miss out on opportunities. Many posts by ‘influencers’ on LinkedIn emphasise the need of every individual to develop a personal brand. As competition in the job market rises, it becomes increasingly important to stand out from the crowd and build the connections that’ll enable you to get where you want to. Branding can be done through various ways such as setting up a website or blog, videos, writing online and offline and indeed through social media.
Nine steps to make social media work for you
1. Choose your platforms
LinkedIn is a must. Have your profile up to date but equally important is that you use the platform to keep informed about your industry, build connections and share updates to show that you’re active both on LinkedIn and in your career journey. In addition, choose another one or two social networking platforms. Try to spend a few minutes on each one every day. A simple post or quick retweet will show that you’re involved.
Have a suitable profile picture that can be clearly seen. Ideally use the same one for all your social media accounts so it is easier to recognise you. Write a simple but personal bio about yourself. It depends on the social media platform how formal it is but certainly mention what sector(s) you’re interested in and add a personal touch with any hobbies/ societies you’re involved with.
3. Make sure you are being yourself on social media
Do not become robotic with your posts – instead showcase your qualities and mention your hobbies so that scrolling down your feed gives one a real insight into your personality.
4. Follow the right people
This includes relevant companies/ organisations and the key professionals within your sector. In this way, you will improve your commercial awareness and it will show that you take an active interest in your industry.
5. Share your opinions
If something in the news interests you, post about it. If you enjoyed attending an event, share what you liked. Share pictures of events you attend on your Instagram to show the time you spend exploring your sector of interest.
6. Sell yourself Don’t feel like you’re showing off when you post about something you’ve achieved. Instead use it as a positive way to share what you learnt through the experience, say something inspiring, or what you plan to next do about it.
Like, comment and share the posts of people in your industry. Eventually, they will notice if you’re showing your enthusiasm well. This would (and does) help with finding mentors, placements and even graduate employment!
8. Politics…tread carefully
Use your discretion and always exercise sensitivity and tact . Ask yourself if your comments could be misinterpreted and prove to be controversial. Is it worth taking that risk?
9. Post appropriately
It is acceptable to moan how late the bus to campus is or how much you struggle with a module but to say anything inappropriate against an employer or member of staff might make an employer question how suitably you communicate online. Remember your posts, language and tone will reflect who you are, not those you’re talking about.
Starting to use social media with an intention of gaining something from the experience and involvement can seem daunting at first. Nothing did I use to find scarier than hitting the ‘tweet’ button because I was often overwhelmed by the thought that everyone out there in the world will see it. Knowing the worth of your content and openly sharing what you want is a matter of confidence and is a skill that you develop over time.
Engaging with professionals online would really help you to stand out. Through Twitter, I have been able to network with chemists studying at other universities, PhD chemists as well as chemists in the industry. It has enabled me to connect with people who today are doing the jobs I might want to do. Some of them have even given me useful advice related to studies and careers. In this way, I got a greater insight into the potential career paths I’m considering as well as inspiration to continue to work hard towards my goals.