Should I use social media to make a career change?
I have been working full-time for 7-10 years. 7 years with government organizations and the past few with a mature startup.
I’m thinking of pursuing a new role. I love the interactions and pace of my current company, but the pay isn’t where I’d like it (I will be closing on a new home soon) and I’m craving new challenges.
In Singapore, we’re not really taught to establish a brand and go out there and advertise yourself with social media. Perhaps I’m too used to the Asian / Chinese way of thinking. So I would love to hear from a Western perspective on this issue.
Hope to hear from you and have a good day!
Hi there Bernice,
You’ll be relieved to know that many of the people I work with face the same dilemma!
They hear that they should use social media to advance in their careers, but the cringe at the thought for many reasons.
Sometimes, they’re uncomfortable simply because it’s not a resume. It’s new territory.
Or because they hate writing.
Other times, they associate social media with vanity, egocentricity, and self-promotion—in fact, this is the concern I hear most often (across generations).
Here in the west, we’re taught to be humble, but we’re also faced with a Kardashian-clogged culture that amplifies the “Ick Factor” we experience when we think about building a presence online.
The result: Lots of talented people miss out on the power of social media.
And they miss out big time.
Pew Research tells us that 34% of professionals have used social media to inform their friends of an available job, and 21% have applied for a job they found out about through their social media contacts.
Combined, that’s half the workforce!
The thing is, you miss out on opportunity, and other career perks, if you’re not regularly putting yourself on the radar of your network.
Here are some ideas to help you shed the Ick Factor and some of the false rules we’re taught about sharing ourselves on line:
Your Social Media Presence Isn’t Acutally About You
Fair’s fair: Social media and digital personal branding get a bad rap because we all know “that person.” That friend who over-shares. The one who tweet, tweet, tweets their thoughts and seizes every chance to humble-brag that life affords them.
While all that noise does create a presence, it’s not what strong brand-building looks like.
Not even a little bit.
Instead of thinking of social media as a place to advertise yourself, think of it was a platform where you can share value. Where you spread the good things in life.
In a career branding strategy, these are items like:
- Articles related to you do (and how it can help people / companies)
- TedTalks or career-related books that’ll inspire your contacts
- Job opportunities relevant to your network
- News about companies or thought leaders from your industry
You’ll notice that these shares, while related to you and your work life, aren’t really focused on telling people about you.
Instead, they create value for your followers while showing that you’re engaged and informed when it comes to your 9-5 life. They demonstrate that you’re a source of valuable information vs. selfies and pictures of your lunch.
They’re the stuff of powerful digital branding that builds careers.
You Don’t Have to be “Everywhere”
The other concern that many of my clients voice is that they’ll have to be on every social media platform out there, or become a super blogger who rattles off lengthy thought leadership pieces each week.
In reality, most of them are better off choosing a channel or two that works for them and sharing existing content, before they even think about publishing.
No, really: That’s all it takes.
To pinpoint the right places to build your brand, ask yourself who your target audience is and where they’re most active. Those are the accounts you’ll want to create and maintain. There’s no point in ramping up a channel if the people you’d like to impress aren’t active on it.
It’s like winking at someone from another room, or on a dark night.
The message is lost and you’re wasting precious time!
In most cases, LinkedIn and Twitter are your safest bets. Creatives might favor Instagram, startup folks might also consider Angelist, and you’ll see many a coach or consultant on video platforms like SnapChat. They’re winking at the right people, in the right places.
I’m also often asked “Do I need a personal website?”
Such. A loaded. Question.
Whether or not you’ll see ROI from a personal website hinges on your specific goals and your industry and career field.
My nickel’s worth of free advice is that if you’re just now opening yourself up to social media, you should hold off on a personal website until you’ve found your stride online for a few months.
Think: We-We-We—Not Me-Me-Me!
One of the best ways of battling that self-obsessed super jerk feeling you get when using social media is to always think of it as a place of connection—not promotion.
Sharing regular posts and updates about others is a primo way to up that connection factor.
Did your team just land a new partner or account? Express your excitement with a status update (once it’s no longer hush-hush, of course).
Say someone gave a speech and nailed it: You could give them a public kudos, including a photo and/or hatch tag in your post for the event for bonus points.
Read an awesome article written by your idol? Share it with a comment on why it’s great.
When you finally do share something that’s strictly about you (and you should, every now and again), you’ll feel less awkward. Better yet, you’ll be building your reputation as someone who cares, shares success, and knows great work when they see it.
Bernice, I can’t emphasize this enough: Branding yourself with the right profile content and messaging is only half the battle. The other half and real power of building your personal brand online lies in your activity and interactions.
If you’re engaging on the right platform and creating value, social media will be the irreplaceable lynchpin in your career strategy.
All good things,