Do I really have to do social media?
I recently fielded a phone call with a former engineer who wants to return to her career, is starting an active job search, and is repulsed by the idea that she’ll have to play any social media game to do so. She is not alone. And maybe she won’t have to, yet…
A 2017 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 70 percent of employers are using social media to screen candidates and 57 percent are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online.
When teaching social media and personal re|branding at ReBoot Accel, the concept of cultivating a personal brand or ‘digital footprint’ through social media can elicit strong reactions ranging from revulsion to rejection from returners. And with good reason. Most of us have witnessed or are experiencing the high costs of hacking, identity theft, or trolling; and many are shepherding digital natives who seem unaware or without a care as to the safety and TMI issues that could haunt them down the line.
Or perhaps you’ve dabbled on Facebook and Twitter, contracted facade fatigue, and thus dismiss the entire social media scene as a health risk and time sink.
Do I really have to do this (redux)? Yes, and…
We hear you. All five of the ReBoot Accel founders view social media as a professional tool that must serve a higher and defined purpose, and we continually evaluate its place and ROI vis a vis our business and branding goals. And, as a result, we’ve come to appreciate how the right social media feeds, mix, and message can help us connect with our current and future customers, develop supportive communities, listen to and learn from others, contribute our voices to causes we’re committed to, and reach our business and personal goals.
I tell my daughters to have their voice in the world, and it became clear I needed to role model that. – Melinda Gates
During our career reentry workshops, one of the first assignments we give participants is to start building and reading their LinkedIn newsfeed every day. Why? Because, LinkedIn has grown beyond being the power platform for professional networking and recruiting, to a major player and platform for high-quality content too. With less social media chaff.
This means LinkedIn content can:
- Build your familiarity with the language conventions and current conversations going on in your industry
- Help you identify thought leaders and other individuals you can ‘follow’ and learn from, with the possibility of connecting and engaging with them in the future
- Provide a steady stream of current news and industry-specific content you can curate and share on LinkedIn and through other social media channels, providing your followers’ value, and reinforcing your personal brand
- Assist you in locating where your voice and unique contributions will fit into today’s marketplace and your chosen industry
When in job search, professional transition, or business building modes, it is important to demonstrate subject expertise and build current professional credibility. Cultivating an actively engaged presence on LinkedIn is one way to do this.
If a recruiter or prospective customer finds you regularly contributing valuable ideas and original content in conversations important to them, they will be more likely to form a positive impression about how you might add value to their company and be a solution to their business problems.
How does social media engagement work on LinkedIn?
There are at least five levels of engagement available to you and I’ve listed them in order of least to most effort, and from least value to you as a job seeker and brand builder to most.
‘Like’: indicates you’ve seen a post in your feed and reacted positively to a headline, the image, or video and some or all of the content of someone else’s post. A ‘like’ is a low-level time and brain commitment and, correspondingly, produces low value to the job seeker in the eyes of a recruiter.
‘Comment’: communicates that you’ve read and thought about someone else’s post in your feed and you would like to contribute your expertise and perspective to the conversation. LinkedIn is not Facebook, so no pith, sarcasm, and emojis allowed.
Instead, you can say “thanks” through tagging (@username) to the person posting or author, include a pulled quote or idea, express your POV, and/or offer a link to another relevant article that those in the conversation might enjoy.
‘Share’: now that you’ve ‘liked’, have ‘commented’, and have decided this post would be valuable to your followers and connections, you share it with them, adding a quality comment about why they should join this conversation too.
‘Likes’, ‘comments’, and ‘shares’ are considered ‘Engagement 101’. All three happen within the LinkedIn platform and are sourced from your own LinkedIn newsfeed. Your comments and shares can add value to your personal brand because they are seen in other’s newsfeeds, and reflect:
- What kind of content you are interested in, engaging with, and endorsing
- Your communication skills and style
- Your subject expertise
- Your currency and LinkedIn literacy
Once you’ve mastered engagement 101, it’s time to expand your 201 horizons by sourcing and writing content from outside the LinkedIn platform and bringing it in for the benefit of all.
‘Post’: Here you’ve discovered (and read thoroughly) an article elsewhere and want to share it with your LinkedIn connections by posting it to your timeline; with an intro and value-add comment to help start a conversation on LinkedIn. Posting demonstrates that you are curious, have a growth mindset, and are consuming content in many interesting places with an eye toward leading, not just joining, conversations.
‘Publish’: Eureka! This is the holy grail. You’ve produced an article, a slide deck, or your own LinkedIn video and are contributing to the community your first-hand expertise, thought leadership, and unique perspective on a particular subject. This is the highest form of engagement and requires the most amount of effort. If your original content gets traction, you’ve reached the pinnacle of personal branding for-the-rest-of-us on LinkedIn. Congrats! And next, there’s always going for ‘Influencer’ status!
Two Reminders for Job Seekers and Returners
Your engagements are tracked and posted in the Articles & Activity section of your LinkedIn profile. This is where recruiters will look. If you are trying to move ahead in your career or business, you want viewers to see that you are a regular and quality contributor and employ a healthy mix of the five levels of engagement, from ‘like’ to ‘publish’. To see what you’ve posted and when, go to your ‘Me’ menu bar option (under your round profile photo) and look at your Posts & Activity history under MANAGE.
Your engagement frequency is also public in the Articles & Activity section, so it’s important to stay current and pace yourself. If you’ve been away from LinkedIn for a while, it’s tempting to cram or catch-up. Don’t and you can’t. Instead, take a deep breath and begin again by scheduling time slots in your calendar for reading your LinkedIn and other news feeds and then engaging with thought and purpose. Three times a week is respectable on LinkedIn and no more than once a day is recommended.
A final word. Social media engagement on LinkedIn is a powerful way to proactively position yourself to connections, recruiters, and hiring managers who are looking for the evidence to support their recommendation for your hire. Help them out by being present and engaged.
I hope this has demystified social media engagement for the purposes of personal branding on LinkedIn and inspired you to give it a try. If you’d like to learn more about leveraging social media for your job search and career reentry, check out these ReBoot Byte YouTube videos and other ReBoot Accel blogs:
- ReBoot Byte: How to Start on Social Media for Your Job Search
- ReBoot Byte: Stay Current with Google Alerts
- Part 1: How to Audit and Growth Hack Your “Above the Fold” LinkedIn Presence
- Part 2: How to Audit and Growth Hack Your “Above the Fold” LinkedIn Presence
Are you a job seeker returning to or pivoting your career? What’s next for you?
Check out ReBoot Talent JOBS. We proactively work with companies across the USA that are seeking skilled, mature talent returning to their careers. This is continually updated, so check back frequently.
Subscribe to ReBoot Kickstart, our new and FREE online training program with over 20 lessons, worksheets, and videos to help job seekers successfully return to and pivot their careers.
Connect with us!
- For support and advice from like-minded women, join the ReBoot Accel Discussion Group on Facebook
- For a weekly injection of return-to-work resources and tips, sign up for our newsletter
- For real stories from real returners, visit our testimonial page
- Stay current by following us on Facebook and Twitter @rebootaccel, and on LinkedIn