Preparing Your LinkedIn, Facebook, & Twitter for Your Summer Job Search
As you make your way into the working world, there’s real benefit to having professional social media accounts. Since they’re easily accessible with a Google search, creating professional accounts and making your personal ones private allow you to curate an online presence that is more desirable to hiring managers.
On professional accounts, you can tell the narrative of your life so far, choosing content that reflects your personal and professional growth without becoming too vulnerable. You see celebrities, public speakers, and other adults with professional accounts all the time; here’s an example of celebrated photographer Arthur Elgort’s Instagram.
Have questions on how to get started building your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for college admissions? Then read on.
Who it’s for: Professionals of all shapes and sizes, from freelance artists looking for work to CEOs of major companies.
Why use it: LinkedIn is the social network for adults who want to build business connections, so chances are your interviewer has one. Over the course of years of experience and schooling, you can build up endorsements for particular skills you’re good at and professional connections with people you’ve worked or interacted with. Keeping tabs on former supervisors and colleagues will help if you need a reference in the future.
What to put on it: Your education, any job/internship experience, any volunteer experience, serious extracurriculars and anything that could be relevant to your job hunt (think: self-directed work, service trips, languages you speak, honor societies, awards, etc.). The great thing about LinkedIn is that there’s space to put all of these tidbits, which means that if you don’t have any job experience, there are other ways to fill out your profile. LinkedIn can serve as your evolving online resume, so it’s useful to start that process now. If you have worked before, and your former supervisor is on LinkedIn, you can even ask for a recommendation that’ll pad your profile. See if any of your friends or acquaintances have a robust account and follow their lead.
How often to post: 1-2 times a month max. LinkedIn will let you post status updates like on Facebook, but the space is usually for people to post work updates and insights. So leave the posting to big announcements (“I got into X college!”) or insights that might be relevant to share with a business audience (“Here’s an interesting article I read in class about public service.”). Remember, people are busy, so keep your posts professionally relevant.
What to watch out for: This is a tip for any platform (and life), but when in doubt about posting, don’t. Profiles here are serious and contain little personal information; it’s impossible to put one’s relationship status on LinkedIn, for example. So keep it professional and skip the personal stuff.
Who it’s for: Everyone! Although, Facebook tends to skew older (25 and up).
Why use it: While Facebook may no longer be the most popular form of social media, it’s often useful in college. Many schools have accepted student groups in which you can find roommates as incoming freshmen. The group remains a helpful place during college to learn about events or post your own announcements, engage with your community, and follow groups that are relevant to your interests. It also remains relevant after graduation to stay in touch with your classmates.
What to put on it: You can be more lenient here than on LinkedIn. If you’ve been using your profile to post a lot of personal stuff, clean it up and occasionally make public posts that contribute to your professional images so that they’re accessible to a wider audience. Share personal photos (so long as they’re appropriate), provide fun news about where you’re working or what classes you’re taking, and otherwise give a peek into your life without going into more detail. A good practice is to ask whether your profile accurately represents you: is it covering your interest in English? Your work in public policy? Your journey to get accepted to your dream school? Having a theme will give you a rough set of guidelines to help you find content to post.
How often to post: Once every week or every two weeks should be enough to build up your page. You can also create an Instagram account and double post here; Instagram is very popular but also highly visual, so make sure you’ve got the images to support an account if you want to pursue it. Avoid overposting, as that’s a common annoyance for many users. There’s no need to post more than once every few days on Facebook. Also avoid documenting your entire college admissions process—it’s a highly-personal and emotional process for everyone, so while your acceptance might be great news to you, it could make others feel behind or discouraged. The real news that matters is where you’ll be going anyways—wait until you’ve committed to a college before posting.
What to watch out for: Facebook’s been in the news a lot lately for invasion of privacy, so err on the safe side and share personal information only when necessary. Facebook also can get very political, but avoid participating, at least in public. The issues are often too heated to engage in respectfully and effectively, and you don’t know the beliefs of your audience. The exception here is if you are particularly active on a topic, like gun control, that affects you. But be ready for pushback.
Who it’s for: Again, everyone. Twitter is huge, and includes all types. There are subgroups within Twitter, a.k.a. small communities that specialize in a particular area and chat back and forth on subjects that interest them. Writers and editors love to chat with each other on Twitter, for example.
Why use it: Of the three, this is probably the most fun app. You can get away with more to showcase your unique personality, including the use of humor and satire. It’s also a great way to network with like-minded individuals and experts in the field even before you head to college. Do you have celebrities and experts you admire? A lot of them have Twitter accounts on which you can follow their latest posts and even talk to them.
What to put on it: Within reason, you can put up just about any content that inspires, excites, angers, and delights you. Watch your profile and just make sure it’s got appropriate themes and topics on there (i.e., don’t put something inflammatory or controversial). You can retweet and like content that appeals to you as an easy way to build your profile even if you don’t have an idea for a tweet that particular day.
How often to post: As much as a few times a day, depending on how much content you have. Twitter is unbelievably fast-paced, and your feed will fill up quickly. Try to find subgroups that match your passion and begin to follow, and even participate in, relevant conversations.
What to watch out for: Again, don’t go crazy on the politics unless it’s part of your professional profile to be engaged in this way. Trolls lurk on Twitter and heated debates (and insults) are common. Stay civil and above the fray.
Best Practices to Remember
With a little bit of work, your social media profiles can be extra assets as you job hunt for the summer and beyond. Make sure to select a high-resolution, in-focus, appropriate, and smiling headshot so that those looking at your profile get a strong sense of what you look like and a glimpse into your personality.
Since it can be work to keep these accounts up (and if you don’t love doing it), start out by picking the platform that suits you the best. LinkedIn doesn’t allow for much creativity but doesn’t need many updates and can consistently serve as your online resume, while Twitter users often post multiple times a day and can cover the many facets of your personality. All three links to your social media profiles can also go on your hard-copy resume.
The number of followers you have doesn’t really matter unless you’re trying to build your profile as a local personality or influencer. If you really want to up your count, follow other students and entities doing similar work and engage with them to establish yourself as someone they should want to follow back. For the people you follow, you can include friends, classmates, and other people you know, but also do some research and follow people who are doing things you admire and aspire to.
Above all, don’t overthink. Once you have accounts set up, it shouldn’t take too long to think of a quick thing to post or update, and then move on.
A perfect way to figure out the right balance of social media visibility is to work with a mentor. The CollegeVine Near Peer Mentoring Service pairs you with college students who have found ways to set themselves apart in their high school lives. They know what colleges and jobs want, and they’ll help you get there too.