Building an Online Personality: How Social Media and Employment Go Hand in HandAugust 12, 2013 in Work & Internships
Since college, I have used websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to do more than keep in touch. I have used them to brand myself as a political activist. My professional profile on LinkedIn discusses my educational background in political science and environmental geography, my hobbies (such as writing and camping), and my past work experience with human rights groups, law firms, and environmental organizations.
Likewise, I have used Twitter almost exclusively to connect with protest movements and environmental activists in the hopes that future employers who are social media-savvy will learn a little bit about why I am in the field and the dedication I have to these issues. My Facebook account also advertises my personal interests, including literature, music, and history, to show that I am educated, passionate, and readily hire-able.
I have found that each form of social media could be uniquely useful in its own way. Twitter doesn't allow much space for describing yourself, but you can use it to get noticed by colleges, companies, or individuals who you have some interest in. Retweeting a post by a company of interest will put your name on their radar, as will sending them a direct message with links to interesting articles, images, or information.
The catch, however, is that you need to use your real name. While it may sound like you're making yourself an easily searchable target, in reality, being easily searchable online is a good thing. The balance comes in figuring out what personal information to present where, ensuring that you are not only safe but also well advertised.
For me, LinkedIn has been the most effective form of social networking. A year ago, I received an entirely unsolicited job offer from a law firm in Boston, informing me of a job opening for which I seemed to be a good fit. While I turned the offer down (I was about to go back to school), the incident opened my eyes to something that a lot of career services offices don't mention: I wasn't just looking for a job; jobs were looking for me.
Armed with that knowledge, I tried to ensure that my online personality displayed me as a politically active, socially aware young professional. Because in the linked age of social media and employment, you are your own personal advertisement.
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