Social Media Tips for the Job Market

Are your social media profiles ready for the job market?

Today’s job market is tricky. It can be hard to stand out in a crowded field where everyone seemingly has another publication, another internship, and goes above and beyond to show they are a stellar candidate for a position.

Coronavirus has made this even harder, especially in academia where the cuts to school funding and the longevity of this crisis are still unknown.

Most people see social media for the job market as a hurdle they must jump over to land their desired position.

Will the search committee or hiring manager look at all my social media profiles? Yes, in many cases.

If you’re on the academic job market, some universities have rules and regulations against this, the key word there is some. Not all. In industry, checking the social media profiles of job candidates is normal.

Social media can be a great asset on the job market. It can showcase your professional skills and personal interests in a unique and intriguing way the resume could not.

A great post on LinkedIn or a picture on Instagram with a great story-like caption, can help you stand out from other job candidates. It can make you more

  • likable
  • personable
  • and even more memorable

In today’s world, it’s hard to capture people’s attention. But it is by no means impossible.

People are looking to hear others share their expertise and insights about a subject. They want to know what friends and acquaintances are doing via social media now more than ever.

I’m Jennifer van Alstyne and welcome to The Social Academic blog. Today, I want to talk about some great ways to share amazing content with these tips to get you started.

First, I have some general tips for all your social media profiles to share. Then, I jump into the details for LinkedIn and Twitter.

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4 tips to get your social media profiles job market ready

Hands hold tablet with social media icons and the word 'connect'

These tips work for all social media platforms across the board. They will help you to have strong social media profiles that show off your personality and skills to recruiters and search committees.

Most experts say the best strategic approach to finding a position is networking. It’s much harder to land positions applying to online job ads. With your skillsets, the best way to find a position is through connections you’ve made with people. Social media can be a great way to do that.

Here are 4 tips to get your social media profiles ready for your job search

Clean up your profiles

Make sure your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts don’t have any sketchy photos, or ranting and raving posts that would be a turn-off to potential hiring managers or committees.

Most people who are interested in your resume will go to LinkedIn, then maybe Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see what content you are sharing and get a better look at who you are.

Hiring managers are more often looking for positive, collaborative colleagues that fit well into their work culture. They do not want to cost the company a bunch of money by making a bad hire.

So go through your profiles and delete (or hide) things like

  • profanity
  • drinking and/or drugs
  • risqué photos
  • complaints about students
  • complaints about your job/company

When in doubt, remove it.

Even though it’s common sense, a lot of people miss this step.

Here’s my 10-step guide on how to update your social media profile!

Do not set your profiles to private

Other advice articles on social media tips for the job market might tell you to set your profiles to private, like this one (though it does have other good advice).

Don’t do it. Why would you?

Since you are a jobseeker actively looking for jobs, you want recruiters, hiring managers, and search committees to know you’re out there.

In other words, you want the publicity. Or at least for the public to be able to find you and learn a bit about you.

When your profile is set to private, only your friends can see what you share.

At the least, hiring managers may find that annoying. Some even have services to help them get around that.

Having a private profile might even cause people to be suspicious of you, and at the least wonder what you might hiding.

Don’t turn your profiles to private when you’re on the job market. But do be cognizant of what you share.

Sharing content is the essence of social media and you want as much visibility as possible during this time.

Post on social media regularly

Wouldn’t it be great if social media profiles just grew followers on their own? They don’t.

Rather, they’re a bit more like plants that need sunlight, nutrients, and water.

Like plants, social media needs attention and care. And that includes sharing original content (or posts) that you create.

If you’re on the job market, posting on 1-2 platforms each week is a good idea.

Show others what you are working on, what your hobbies are, how your job search is going. If you are doing yoga and going to the park to exercise, share a selfie. If you like watching movies, knitting, playing with your dog, are really into a specific tv show, love gardening, or whatever your thing is, people want to hear about it.

It gives your profile greater presence and makes you a more interesting job candidate to a search committee or hiring manager if they know a bit about you.

Tell connections you’re looking for work

There’s a lot of advice out there about how you should never tell people you’re looking for jobs. But in the time of coronavirus, that’s not the case. Lots of people are out of work.

And, since we talked about how important networking is to your job search, should you really hide that from your connections?

In a recent Cosmopolitan article, Andrea Stanley and Elizabeth Kiefer say you should tell people on social media if you’re unemployed. And tell your friends and family.

This seems a little weird, I know.

You may be thinking “I don’t want to tell anyone I’m unemployed because they’ll judge me for it.”

However, if you tell people you are unemployed, they might have a connection that will help you get employed.

By getting the word out and advertising that you are actively seeking work, other people will help you look for work. This will help you feel less alone and give you a sense of community.

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Yes, you should be on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great place to connect with educators in your field, colleagues, former students, scholars and researchers, editors, publishers, organization and association leaders

For jobseekers, LinkedIn is the best social media resource because its where recruiters, hiring managers, and researchers tend to go first after viewing your resume.

They want to know what your profile looks like, how you describe your work in the headline, how many connections you have, and so forth.

LinkedIn is also where you can research companies, the people who work there, and see if you might be a good fit for their culture.

If you are on the academic job market, a good or great LinkedIn profile will help you stand out from the other candidates.

Too many people overlook this social media platform, but its growing rapidly and is crucial to your professional online presence. I wrote about advice for updating your LinkedIn profile and using it for networking earlier this year.

Join my LinkedIn Profile masterclass!

Today I want to touch base on my LinkedIn advice for job seekers specifically.

  • Turn off LinkedIn update notifications when editing your profile
  • Share posts on LinkedIn
  • Smile in your profile photo
  • Reach out for informational interviews
  • Engage with other people’s posts on LinkedIn

Turn off LinkedIn update notifications before editing your profile

If you’re making changes to your LinkedIn profile, turn the update notifications off so people don’t get a notification every time you make a small change.

LinkedIn’s default setting is to share updates to things like your

  • headline
  • work experience
  • and some other profile changes

to your network.

But if there’s an important change, I recommend you write a post about it to share publicly rather than relying on LinkedIn’s auto-generated update.

Write posts to share on LinkedIn

I know what you are thinking: “I don’t have a job and I don’t have anything professional to share, so why would I share it on LinkedIn?”

Half the battle on LinkedIn is gaining more visibility and finding new connections, which add value to your profile and larger network.

Sure, a post about a professional achievement or a recent publication is great. But so is one about your nightly dog walk, or your thoughts on a book you’ve been reading.

People are interested in all sorts of stuff on LinkedIn from work-life balance, to advice, to a discussion on how storytelling can help their next marketing campaign.

The bottom line is to try and post at least once a week, if not more. Try sharing a mix of professional and personal activities.

Smile in your profile photo

I come across so many LinkedIn profiles where people aren’t smiling, and let me tell you it makes a big difference.

Please have a profile photo that focuses on your face, where are smiling or looking happy. You want to be the central focus of the photo. Business casual is fine (no need for a suit unless that’s your thing).

Too often, a LinkedIn profile is judged by its cover. Changing up your profile photo is an easy fix.

No budget for headshots? No problem. Here’s a guest post on From PhD to Life about how to take a headshot for $0 with your phone.

Reach out for informational interviews

A daunting task for the job market is asking strangers for advice. The worst that can happen is they don’t respond.

The best that can happen is you have a great phone or video conservation in which they give you effective advice for your job search and maybe a lead to your next position.

That’s what informational interviews are all about: learning from people who have advice to share with you.

In that same Cosmopolitan article, Stanley and Keifer say that for every 10 people you contact, expect 1 to reply to you. The rate of response is low, but it can be a lot more fruitful than sending out applications to online job ads.

If you know what industry or company you’d like to work for, this will be very effective for finding out more about what a specific job entails and what values a company looks for most in a candidate.

If you’re on the academic job market, you could learn a lot about a specific university department by talking to a faculty member there.

Most people love to talk and answer questions about their jobs. Put your best foot forward and give it a go.

Watch this free webinar from Beyond the Prof, “Informational Interviews and Getting Started with Networking,” featuring Nichole Carelock, PhD  and Jessica Johnston for helpful advice.

Engage with other people’s posts

People are posting on LinkedIn all the time. Now, more than ever.

Another way to gain visibility and more credibility on LinkedIn other than posting regularly is to engage with other people’s posts through likes and comments.

People love comments on LinkedIn posts, and by leaving comments people will more easily recognize your profile. It’s also a great way to start conversations over a shared interest.

Even just letting someone know you read the article they shared can be the start of a great conversation.

It is a win-win for both you and the poster because it draws more traffic and views to their post.

And, it allows professionals you haven’t connected with yet learn a bit about you, and encourages them view your profile.

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Twitter is a great place for jobseekers to network too

Hand holding phone with Twitter login screen

Some people find Twitter difficult to navigate because of how quickly tweets come and go. Not to mention the sheer number of conversations that are complaints, rants, or pithy one-liners you might shake your head at.

Sure, sometimes Twitter is like a bad horror movie, but it’s also useful for job searching and growing your online presence. Especially because tweets have a huge potential reach.

Here are a few effective do’s and don’ts for Twitter when you’re on the job market.

  • Stay positive and share insight
  • Look at the hiring manager’s profile
  • Write a clean Twitter bio
  • Use the search feature on Twitter

Stay positive, and share insight

The most effective tweets, the ones that really hold our interest, tend to tell a fascinating story.

Great tweets from academics tend to be educational, informative. Or they say something about culture and society that people tend to forget in their everyday lives.

Great tweets are not negative comments or scathing criticisms of people.

They are not divisively political or come off with someone sounding particularly angry.

Because you are on the job market, try to keep your tweets positive and collaborative.

Picture yourself as the hiring manager or search committee going through your profile. You probably want to see someone who enjoys life, who is engaged in conversation about professional topics that concern their work or research.

You want to engage with others in a thoughtful manner on Twitter. So if you’re feeling angry or surly, it might be time for a break.

Look at the hiring manager’s profile

Looking at someone’s Twitter profile can be a great window or snapshot of their personal and professional life. If you look up your hiring manager (say, before an interview) it might give a window into what they like and help you prepare a bit.

It can give you some background on who they are, their likes and dislikes. It may help you start a conversation with them that can win them over.

For those of you on the academic job market, if a professor on a search committee is active on Twitter, this can be great! It may help you understand how their research overlaps with yours and what is best to highlight from your CV to stand out from other candidates.

Have a clean Twitter bio that links to your website or CV

For any job candidate, it is best to have a handle that matches your name so you’re easily searchable on the platform. But what about your bio?

So many people on Twitter have pithy one-liners as their profile description.

In your Twitter bio, it’s best to describe who you are, and what you do or have done in the past. You may also want to share a hobby or interest like “avid bird watcher,” “food bank volunteer,” “fan of a sports team,” etc.

In your Twitter bio, if you have a website, link to it.

If you don’t have a website, consider linking to your CV or LinkedIn profile.

Update your social media profiles in 10 steps with my how-to guide.

Search is a powerful tool on Twitter because of the mass volume of tweets sent out every day.

During this coronavirus pandemic, people have been trying to help each other out by sharing leads to open positions in many industries.

Twitter search is super powerful. Type in a hashtag or keyword that relates to your job interests or industry right into the search bar. You might be surprised at the

  • conversations
  • helpful articles
  • job leads

you can find using the search feature for a few minutes each day.

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Thanks for checking out these tips

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I hope you’re able to use some of these tips to

  • boost your presence on social media
  • get more value out of your time spent on various platforms
  • and gain more positive visibility to the right people for your job search

Today’s job market can make anyone feel overwhelmed. How do you navigate a job search with so many people out of work? It depends on the industry and the jobs you are looking for. While some industries like restaurants and retail are struggling to stay afloat, others like healthcare are exploding and desperately need more workers. Industries like tech and marketing have not been affected as much and continue to hire at similar rates as before.

Keep a set calendar or to-do list for your job search including things like refreshing your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, or networking with family and friends. Try to reach out to at least 3 people a week if you can.

Make an effort to stay positive.

It can be easy to get cabin fever and feel down on yourself. I know I’m feeling a little depressed from being inside so much. I find myself getting anxious whenever people get close to me.

But world is so virtual these days. It’s easier than ever to strike up a conversation via social media direct messages (DMs) that can lead to a phone or video chat. And that could potentially lead to another connection, which may land you a job down the road.

I want to wish you good luck with your job search. If you need 1:1 guidance on your online presence, let’s set up a consultation.

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Jennifer van Alstyne View All →

Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and communications consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help professors, researchers, and graduate students manage their online presence. Jennifer’s goal is to help people share their work with the world.

Check out her personal site at https://jennifervanalstyne
or learn more about the services she offers at

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