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Social media is playing a larger role in the way professionals and corporations connect. Using platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter, you’re now able to stay up-to-date on the latest discourse in the brands and industries of your interest and communicate in real-time with potential employers.

Social media networking is a key aspect of job hunting. Over 81 percent of Americans have some sort of social media account and 84 percent of employers use social media as a recruitment tool, so it’s more important than ever to start utilizing social platforms to their full potential –you never know who you could connect with.

First, let’s examine how social platforms should be used to build your brand. Then, we’ll explore ways they can be utilized to find job postings with potential employers.

Build Your Brand

Your personal brand is how you present yourself to peers and potential employers, both online with the content you create and share on your social media profiles, and offline during face-to-face interactions and through your personal appearance.

While your offline brand is just as important to others’ overall perception of you, you’ll find that your online brand can potentially present more of an impact, since you’re able to access a larger number of professionals and corporations through your social media accounts.

However, this new networking access has come with a price as the line between personal and professional social media has grown thinner and become somewhat blurred. What you do and say online directly reflects your personal brand, and whether you know it or not, corporations are taking this into consideration. This is where your social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will either make or break you, so make sure you’re keeping your profiles presentable to potential employers.

Start building your personal brand by asking yourself, “How do I want to be perceived by the companies I want to work for?” Then, post, share and interact on social media accordingly. You should avoid sharing content related to topics like pop culture, politics or any other potentially controversial issues.

LinkedIn is an especially valuable resource for building your professional brand. Under the “Featured Skills & Endorsements” section on your LinkedIn profile, you’re able to add new skills to your profile and receive endorsements from current or former coworkers, employers, professors and more who can attest to the skills you’ve identified on your profile. You can also receive recommendations from people you’ve worked with in the past, who can attest to your professional brand for future employers.

The most important part to building your personal brand on social media is to start right away. Don’t wait until you’re reaching out to recruiters or hiring managers to start stepping up your social media game.

Make the Connection

Nowadays, it’s not about what you know, but who you. Friends, followers and connections on social media are no exception. Throughout the course of your life, you’ll meet and make connections with professionals in your desired industry.

Making connections through social media starts with the people you already know: alumni from your alma mater, a former manager or coworker or an acquaintance you made at a professional event, like a conference or career fair. Find out what social platforms they frequent and send a request to connect. Typically, social media etiquette advises that you have either met or interacted with this individual prior to sending a request.

If you’re finding it difficult to make the connection, most social media outlets have a solution. Each platform has some version of a connection recommendation, based on your interests or who you currently follow. Look for the legitimate connections you have with others and then reach out with a request to connect, including a brief and personal direct message. After that, the best way to maintain your social relationships is through engagement with their posts.

Twitter is a great tool, as it is more conversational than other platforms, allowing you to engage in posts and get real-time updates in your areas of interest. You can use this platform to engage with brands and businesses by following their profile and interacting with their posts by using retweets, replies or direct messages.

LinkedIn is also a great resource for building your network. You can use the platform to connect with company pages, people and even job openings (we’ll talk more about that later).

No matter what social media platform you use to build your network, make sure you’re staying constantly engaged with your followers or connections by frequenting your profiles with posts, shares and content that is valuable to your connections. This will help you build rapport with them and may prove valuable when the time comes to apply for jobs.

Job Hunt

Recently, employers have been expanding their hiring procedures to include social networking sites, using social media to source candidates, post jobs and to accept job applications. Using outlets from LinkedIn to Facebook, employers are looking for new ways to get in front of potential candidates.

Now that you’ve established your personal brand and built your network by making valuable connections with professionals in your desired industry, it’s time to bring it home by looking for job postings on social media.

LinkedIn, with its 530 million current users, is the best place to start the job hunt. By optimizing your profile, building a network of connections and accumulating recommendations or endorsements, you’ll be able to find job postings that correspond to your interests. LinkedIn is also a great way to utilize your connections to find job postings at various companies.

Facebook follows as a close second as you can find job advertisements by searching “Jobs on Facebook” in the search window on the site. You can also ask your Facebook friends for insight into available jobs and referrals to their contacts in a field of your interest.

The most important thing to consider when job hunting on social media is to remember that companies aren’t just looking to hire based on a social media account alone. Very few have received a job offer because of their social media accounts, so make sure you have an updated résumé when the time comes to apply for a job.

Social media can be a valuable asset when it comes to successfully looking for a job. Follow these tips for building your personal brand and making connections in order to successfully network your way to a career.

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