How to Use Social Media for Career Advancement

by Aneela Nasir

You check it all day. Likes, comments, followers, and perhaps some funny memes shared back and forth with friends. Social media is quite literally always at our fingertips and many college students use it for entertainment and staying in touch with friends and family. But can it also be used for career advancement?

Leveraging the Right Platform 

Sydney Deutsch, creator of Hyde Park MKE, a women’s clothing and accessories store in Wauwatosa, Wis.,  launched her business on social media first, before taking the plunge three years ago to open up a brick-and-mortar storefront. She said her main platforms of promotion are Instagram and Facebook, sharing the same information, but each appealing to different demographics. Deutsch believes that considering the size and resources of her business, it is best to focus her efforts on Instagram and Facebook rather than spread herself too thin across various platforms.

Deutsch said the success of her social media promotions comes from doing a lot of photo shoots. Her photographs feature herself and her friends modeling Hyde Park MKE clothing and accessories. “It really helps to see the clothes on a person,” Deutsch said. “I use mostly my friends and people from the local community. A lot of times, that will draw more attention because some of the people that follow us might know some of the models. I also use people of different shapes and sizes, so I think that helps too to be very diverse.” Deutsch’s advice to college students interested in starting their own entrepreneurial venture is to plan, have a lot of content prepared before launching and work out any possible bugs. “Don’t be afraid to start because what are you going to be doing all that hard work for if you’re not going to actually start it?” she said.

Using Social Media to Self-brand 

Originally from Rhode Island and now living in Dubai, Noreen Wasti started her food blog, Noni’s Place, in 2012. In the beginning, she had no intentions to make a career out of it. “I just kind of did it as a place to document what I was cooking,” Wasti said. “I was unemployed at the time.” Wasti found that using Instagram to display beautiful pictures of her cooking and food styling work helped to elevate her blog and brought in a new audience she didn’t originally have access to. Over the years, Wasti gained a loyal following and has gotten numerous freelancing opportunities. Wasti also sees her blog and Instagram page as a portfolio of sorts, using them to show companies what she is capable of. She has hosted events with hotels and has been invited to workshops to teach cooking, food styling, tablescaping, etc. Wasti is completely self-taught, having grown up in a family that loves to cook and entertain. Wasti believes there is a fine balance between creating aesthetically pleasing content and maintaining an authentic and honest space. What is the secret behind Wasti’s beautiful feed? “Use nice surfaces, take top-down shots, and always use natural lighting,” she said.  Wasti points out that social media has provided a space for creatives to get noticed in a way that didn’t exist previously, but she also said platforms have become saturated with people looking for quick fame. It has become difficult to differentiate between honest artists and people who buy followers and use like-for-like methods, deceiving their fans. “I think it’s so important to not get sucked into the numbers,” Wasti said. “Don’t worry about likes or followers.” She cites herself as an example of such desires being unnecessary. “I’m just below that 10,000 follower mark and I’ve gotten a lot of work with my small number,” Wasti said.“You’d rather have 800 or 8,000 people who genuinely love your work than 100,000 fake accounts.” 

Success through Virtual Networking

While Deutsch and Wasti use social media to enhance their entrepreneurial ventures, Wayne Breitbarth, a Linkedin expert, teaches clients how to use the site to enhance their online resumes, network, and land the job of their dreams. While he agrees that social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great for portraying a personal brand, he believes that Linkedin is the best option for people looking for a job.

Breitbarth was at first skeptical of LinkedIn, but has been using it for 10 years and is now the  author of “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-Start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search.” He explained just how important LinkedIn is for students looking for work. 

“LinkedIn profiles are simply just resumes on steroids,” Breitbarth said. “If you look at your profile strategically as being an amped-up version of your resume and include interesting stories of what you’ve accomplished, that’s what people are looking for.”

He recommended using keywords potential employers can search to find you. Breitbarth explained that employers compare LinkedIn profiles in the same way traditional resumes are compared, so any extra professionalism or information could be your foot in the door. 

“Think about the companies you want to work for and always add the professionals you are meeting on the phone or in person as you’re approaching needing a job,” Breitbarth said. 

He is a huge proponent of virtual networking. “It’s a simple strategy to just follow up whenever you talk to someone on the phone, meet somebody in person, or go to a job fair by attempting to add them as LinkedIn connections,” he said. 

Breitbarth urges students to create a list of employers and companies they would like to work for based on their area of study and geographic location. He also advises using the search engine on LinkedIn to find who in your network knows people in your desired companies using the “degree of connection” feature. 

He explained that the last step for students would be to ask friends to introduce them to the appropriate connections, becoming visible to the right people. Breitbarth said that this form of virtual networking through visible degrees of connection was not nearly as simple before LinkedIn came into the job search scene. 

“Your connections may have friends that work at your dream company, so when you know this information you can leverage your existing relationships and potentially get a job offer from it,” Breitbarth said.to 

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