The following is a post I contributed to Careerealism’s Professional Emancipation Project (P.E.P.).
There is a lot of discussion about how, where, and why one must use social media in today’s digital economy. It can be a bit overwhelming for some. The following myths and truths are intended to demystify some of the ways in which you can utilize social media as a job search resource.
Myth: You Must Use Social Media To Find A Job
Truth: Despite what many experts tell you, social media is not an absolute requirement for all jobs and careers. There are many fields where traditional job boards and resumes are still effective tools for finding your next job. Generally speaking, social media tends to be most effective as a job search tool in ‘corporate’ roles and careers where you have a cubicle, desk, or office.
Myth: You Must Build Your Personal Brand
Truth: The term ‘personal branding’ was introduced in 1937. It’s become a common, though somewhat maligned, term in today’s digital economy. Supporters view it as a word of empowerment, taking control of your ‘business of one’ and presenting your self in an orchestrated and deliberate way. Detractors argue the term is contrived, and positioning the individual as a commodity or ‘brand’ is wrong and lacks authenticity.
Perhaps a better term to define the concept is ‘Digital Footprint’. What does this mean? Google yourself. What you find is your digital footprint. It’s the sum of your collective digital presence – social media, blogs, interviews, etc. Putting some thought into how you present and organize these findings helps you cohesively build your digital footprint. You can use tools like Knowem to search domains and social media account for particular names you might want to use for your digital accounts. While by no means required, having similar names for Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, and so on makes it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to find you.
Myth: You Must Blog In Order To Build Your Personal Brand
Truth: Blogging is not for everyone. If you’re comfortable with your writing skills and have smart ideas and thoughts you want to share – blogging can be a great outlet to build standing in your field. If you rush to blog because you feel obligated, chances are your lack of passion about the content will show and the posts may be poor (typos, bad grammar, etc.) – making the blog work against you.
While blogging may not be required, a personal website or online portfolio is an excellent way to claim real estate on the web and give you a centralized hub for your digital presence. Consider purchasing your name domain (i.e. http://www.FirstLast.com) if it’s available and build a basic WordPress website. The costs are minimal and relativelyeasy to setup. You can also use free tools like About.me and Flavors.me to create online portfolios where you can centralize all of your links, social media accounts, etc. – making you easier to find on the web.
Myth: You Must Actively Tweet On Twitter
Truth: You can benefit from using Twitter without sending a single tweet. Many people who are new to Twitter agonize over what to tweet, and feel it offers no value to them if they don’t have something to say. Perhaps it’s better to rethink the platform? Rather than solely being a place to share how delicious that bacon donut was (which many Twitter detractors claim), think of Twitter as a giant classroom. Whatever your professional or personal interests are, there are hundreds of thought leaders sharing the latest trends, books, best practices, and other things that inspire them. Follow them.
Build lists in Twitter to organize users by topic or fields that interest you. Lurk and learn. By observing how these users interact with each other, you’ll learn the etiquette of Twitter communication. If you decide to begin tweeting and join the conversation, Twitter becomes a very powerful networking platform – giving you access to peers and thought leaders around the world. Whether you decide to actively tweet or not, you’ll still learn valuable insights and keep up with the latest developments in your field.