My little brother is graduating from college this month. And like any recent grad, he’s concerned about finding a job. Having myself graduated in May 2009, directly after the economic collapse, I can definitely relate to the struggles recent grads go through when trying to find a job. While the job market is much brighter for a college graduate now than it was for me, it’s still a struggle to stand out from the rest of the competition.
I began to think about things I wish I knew when graduating and I realized that my advice was exactly the same advice I give to businesses that are concerned about building an online presence. It hit me that the same things businesses and companies do to stand out from their competitors are the same things college grads (or any job seeker) should do to help them look better to potential employers.
With the majority of employers now using Google, Facebook and LinkedIn to get a sneak-peak at job candidates, it’s more important than ever to leverage your online sites in your favor. Not only should you double check all your privacy settings and have a professional appearance, but you should also make it easier for employers to find you. But not just you, exactly what you want them to know about you.
So how can you do that? Here are four ways:
1. Think of yourself as a “Brand”
When you’re looking for a job, you’re advertising yourself as a potential employee. So why not start thinking of yourself as a “brand”? Take a look at what successful brands you know are already doing online and copy it.
One of the first things you’ll notice is that they have a consistency across all their sites. To copy that, make all your profile pictures the same (and professional!) and write a similar bio on each of your social sites. Also, make sure your name is written the same way on each (whether its John Doe, John F. Doe or John Forest Doe, just pick one!)
2. Optimize your profiles for search
While many people associate this with websites and Google, it’s possible to do this with your social media sites as well. With LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook utilizing their search features, it’s even more crucial to optimize your profile so it comes up in searches by employers.
To do this, decide what position or industry you want to get into. Then, try to implement it as much as possible in the text of your social media site – depending of course on how much the site allows you to write. So whether you put “Budding #chemicalengineer” in your Twitter bio or write “chemical engineer” at least once in each section of your LinkedIn profile (as well as the titles), you’ll be upping your chances of coming up first in searches for your dream position.
3. Take advantage of skills you already have
Do you like writing? Or maybe talking about sports? Maybe you really enjoy photography? Finding a hobby you enjoy and utilizing it online is a fun way to stand out from the crowd.
For example, say you really want to get into fashion and love taking pictures. You could start a Tumblr where you share pictures of your daily outfits or of fashion you see on the street that inspires you. This will not only help you stand out online, but will also let you gain experience, stay on top of emerging trends in your field and add loads of value to your resume!
4. Get the word out to your friends and family
Once you do get your blog or podcast rolling, don’t forget to tell people about it! Take advantage of your newly branded social media sites and start pushing you and your content out there! Get your friends and family on board and have them share your stuff to help spread the word. The more people become aware of your stuff, the quicker you can grow a fan base and gain the attention of employers!
Warning: Your new online “hobby” may become so successful and so fun, that you might not even need to find a job! You might have just created your own full-time position and become your own CEO! (I know this from experience.)
Nicole Gates (@npgates_24) is a freelance social media manager and consultant for startups and SMBs. When Nicole’s offline, she’s exploring her new city of London, working on her Masters degree and rooting for the Buffalo Bills.