Professional Benefits of Social Media
Social media should be an important part of your professional development and job search, whether you are planning a career in academe or beyond. There are two reasons to use social media in your job search:
- To develop a professional web presence for sharing your research and promoting your work
- To build your professional network
It is essential to have a robust and professional web presence if you are a graduate student on the job market, as you will be googled by the search committee members at the institutions to which you apply. You should google yourself to see what comes up.
Many people learn about job openings through the people they already know and gain an extra advantage in the application process through their personal connections. Sometimes having someone put in a good word for you can really help to advance your candidacy for a particular position. Savvy use of social media can help you build your own professional relationships and meet new contacts. Social media sites can also be a useful tool for researching employers.
Additionally, some aspiring academics choose to create profiles on Research Gate. This website is one way to make your work public and connect with others working in your field. You can also request to download papers from the authors themselves, if you run into a paywall trying to access the article through the journal’s website.
Social Media Platforms
LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool and career resource, allowing you to post a professional profile and connect to individuals, organizations, and discussion groups. For example, you can connect with the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY) page.
Because it’s devoted entirely to professional networking, LinkedIn doesn’t present the risks of blurring the line between your professional and private lives. And if you’re concerned about what might pop up when potential employers google your name, a LinkedIn profile will give you a more professional online presence. You can push your profile higher in google’s search results by adding more content to your profile and by interacting with others on the site (e.g., by writing recommendations and adding updates).
Our office has hosted several webinars on using LinkedIn in your job search.
Twitter allows you to build a network of like-minded scholars. You’d be surprised at the amount of connections you can build on Twitter and the number of conversations at conferences that start with “I follow you on Twitter.” There are helpful hashtags to follow such as #PhDChat, where graduate students share experiences, tips, guidance and support. You can share in-the-lab or in-the-field pictures or links to a recent blog post too. It is a great way to stay up-to-date on recent studies in your field, as most people post links to accessible PDFs. You can share recent grants you have received, papers you have published, conferences you’re going to, etc. Many academics also share lesson plans, syllabi, or teaching activities that you can apply to your own teaching.
Twitter can also help you land a job by allowing you to interact with recruiters and organization representatives and to gain more information about an industry you are interesting in entering. The use of hashtags helps you search for information and relevant discussions more specifically; conversations with hastags like #CareerChat or #JobHuntChat, for example, will likely be more useful than viewing a tweet that simply states “I just got a new job!”
According to Mashable, Twitter has several advantages over other social networking platforms. Recruiters are using Twitter more and more frequently because the site also allows them to easily gain a sense of who you are and what your talents are—and because replying to job seekers on Twitter is much quicker than using the telephone.
Tips for using Twitter in your job search:
- Create a Twitter account that showcases your professional profile (like an “online business card”)
- Use an easily-findable handle and a descriptive bio so people can readily find your profile
- You can split accounts and use one for personal use and one for professional use
- Start out by following relevant people, departments, and institutions in your field
- The “who to follow” tab is a helpful tool that suggests people you have mutual followers with
- Many people “live-tweet” conferences, which can be helpful if you cannot make the meeting; you can follow the conference hashtag and get overviews of some of the presentations
- Engage in threads in addition to posting–it will build your Twitter personality
- When you re-tweet something, add a comment on why it is exciting, informative, controversial, etc.
An article from U.S. News insists that you shouldn’t be afraid to use Facebook during your job hunt. Friends who know you well have a stake in helping you, so alerting them that you’re looking for a position can work to your advantage.
However, make sure to use your privacy settings and tools so that your profile is visible to “friends only” so that potential employers can’t browse your photos or personal updates.
- “Academics and Colleges Split Their Personalities for Social Media” by Jeffrey R. Young in The Chronicle of Higher Education
- “Being a Good Colleague with Social Media” by Julie Platt in Inside Higher Ed
- “7 Habits Of Highly Visible PhD Students” from Next Scientist—includes suggestions to use social media as a way of being helpful to colleagues and promoting your own work
- “Using Social Media to Advance Your Academic Research Goals” by Raul Pacheco-Vega
- “Twitter and Academia” by Kimone Hyman
- “10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics” by Katrina Gulliver in The Chronicle of Higher Education
- “99 Serious Twitter Tips for Academics” from Best Colleges Online