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5 ways to use social media to boost your career prospects

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | July 25, 2014
Forget funny cat videos. Your social profiles can be a powerful tool to connect with employers.

One social network, Career Sushi, is designed to bring your personal interests to the fore, but you can also showcase them with your existing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Unless your passion is partying, you shouldn't hesitate to post status updates and photos that display what you love doing in your free time. "Instagram photos that show varied interests, such as cooking, attending sporting events, and traveling show that you're well-rounded and that you can balance work and life," says social media and marketing consultant Jessica Hall.

4. Treat it like email
Social networks, especially Twitter, are inherently casual. But as a general rule, you should keep your tweets and status updates free of grammar and spelling mistakes, excessive emoticons, and gratuitous netspeak. This is especially important if you're in, or looking for, a client-facing position--employers see your social media as a snapshot of how you relate to the public.

"I'm not sure what it is, but there seems to be something about social media that causes people to end every sentence with a smiley face or exclamation mark," Hall says. "If I see someone that does this a lot, I run for the hills. They could be a highly intelligent person, but they elicit the image of a vapid sorority girl who says like' in between every other word. It's hard not to imagine them sending professional emails in the exact same manner."

Hall suggests treating social media like you would email: Only add emoticons and exclamation marks if they'll convey tone or add context.

5. Brand yourself
The nice thing about social media is it only shows what you want it to show, so you can easily create a cultivated online image with a few well-placed status updates.

"If you Instagram photos of yourself at restaurant openings, or showing off new brands or hobbies or trips to off-the-beaten-path locales, you look like someone who's an early adopter and who's willing to try new things," Hall says.

You can also leverage social media to ameliorate shortcomings you might have when it comes to first impressions. For example, if you look younger, using more refined speech in your status updates can convey experience and seriousness. Alternatively, if you're older in an industry that values youth, you can use social media to show people you're up-to-date with current trends and young at heart.


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