Social media can be a major career hindrance if used wrong, but it can be equally helpful if you make proper use of it. Here are 11 things you can do to utilize social media for your career

1. You Can Hide It From Prospective Employers

The first thing you need to do is avoid any negative consequences from social media. If your accounts have any unprofessional photos and status updates, you can look into each services’ privacy setting to lessen the chance that an employer will find something that makes you un-hirable. Another strategy is to shift your name on those social media outlets slightly so that employers who search for you are less likely to find what they’re looking for.

2. You Can Create Separate Accounts For Professional Purposes

If you want to keep your current accounts focused on social relationships, you can create new accounts dedicated to social media for your career. Create social media accounts exclusively dedicated to your professional development and you’ll show potential employers that not only do you not embarrass yourself on social media, you utilize it to demonstrate your strengths.

3. You Can Position Yourself As An Expert

If you devote enough time to your social media presence and write intelligent posts about your industry you can cultivate a following that recognizes you as an expert in your job field. If an employer sees people coming to you for advice, they’ll immediately understand why you would be an invaluable hire.

4. You Can Follow Potential Employers

Some of the best place to suck up are interactive social media outlets. Tweet praise and constructive criticism to accounts for businesses you want to work for and professionals you admire. It’s a great way to show your value in 140 characters or less.

5. You Can Follow Industry Websites

Each career path has its share of sites that outline the proper steps towards achieving your dream gig. Follow those websites so you can get updates every time they post new tips.

6. You Can Follow Your Peers

Social media is a great way to make connections, even with people who live thousands of miles away. Building up a big network is paramount to finding big success in your career of choice.

7. You Can Follow Your Professional Idols

Learning from the best is a great way to use social media for your career. As fans of the people who inspire you, you probably already have a desire to follow them. Make it a mission to read the updates of successful people and heed their advice so that someday you can achieve an equally lofty status in your industry.

8. You Can Join Online Communities

Some of my biggest career leaps have come from being a part of Facebook groups. Communities like Facebook4Freelancers were invaluable in jump starting my career as an independent writer. Your industry almost definitely has communities that serve the same purpose. Look for Facebook pages and groups that will connect you with thousands of like-minded people in a single click.

9. You Can Have An Online Portfolio/Resume

The biggest boost to my freelance writing career has been my freelance writing portfolio, a website I can point interested parties to so they know if they’ll get what they’re looking for. Portfolios aren’t necessary for every field, but there aren’t many arenas where having your resume readily available isn’t a huge advantage. Social media services like LinkedIn are solid places to host your portfolio or resume.

10. You Can Report Career Changes

Keep your professional connections updated about where you are on your career path. Regular reminders of your success could persuade them to find a spot for you within their companies’ ranks.

11. You Can Research Different Career Paths

If you’re not sure exactly what you want to do yet, social media is an excellent service to help you find out. Follow people and companies that inspire you; their advice will likely lead you in the right direction.

Featured photo credit: Jason Howie via flickr.com

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