Social media isn’t just a place to read political rants or ooh and ahh over photos of babies and puppies—it’s also a great resource for finding a job. Just ask Alisha Johns, an advertising strategist and freelance social media content creator. Johns says her current boss admitted that her Instagram account was a prime motivation for hiring her, and it’s easy to see why. She has almost 10,000 followers, and her photos make you want to live inside ’em. “My workplace is a hybrid advertising agency and production agency, so a lot of our work is visual content,” Johns says. “They look for candidates who live and breathe that life outside of the office, and social media is a great way to portray that.” Social networking has also paid off for Johns when it comes to her freelance work—she says she receives about 80 percent of business for her side gigs through networking on Facebook and Instagram.
[Related: I Got a Job Through Social Media]
Here’s how Johns and other experts suggest finding jobs through social networking sites:
1. Hashtag your heart out.
Johns says she regularly finds, follows, and engages with brands, business owners, and agencies by using hashtags. “I initially connect with most of them through using the same hashtags and eventually move the conversation over to email if I feel like it could be a good fit,” Johns says. “Having my email address and a description of what I do in my profile description is key because there are a lot of cases where a brand will find my profile and email me the very same day.” Johns says for her industry, blogs such as A Beautiful Mess and Design Sponge have families of hashtags that can be used to curate and feature user-generated comments. “Those hashtags have also been a great place for me to interact with and meet community members who have a similar aesthetic,” she says. Some of those hashtags include #ABMlifeiscolorful, #ABMlifeissweet, #dscolor and #dsfloral. By posting an appropriate photo with this hashtag, she says, users have a chance to get exposure on these accounts, which have thousands of followers.
2. Comment, comment, comment.
If you don’t have any social networking connections in common with a prospective employer, there are still ways to grab his or her attention. First, find the person’s profile on various thought leadership social media sites, such as Quora or Medium, suggests Brett Farmiloe, founder of Markitors. For example, a recruiter may have answered a question on Quora. As a job seeker, you can comment on the recruiter’s answer to start a conversation, or you can message him or her directly on a social media site, commenting about the content.
3. Improve your “searchability.”
The best way to make yourself front and center on Google is to create a blog, says Lida Citroen, owner and principal of LIDA360 brand consultancy firm. Blogs allow you to share more detailed content, as well as highlight your expertise and interests. But we know that blogs take time, and not everyone is into the idea of writing about themselves, so engaging with other blogs by sharing, liking, and commenting can be just as beneficial.
4. Ditch the corporate headshot.
Get noticed on social media by branching out from the traditional headshot (ie. plain background, fake smile, awkward pose), suggests Lazina Mckenzie, styling and branding consultant. “The traditional, corporate headshot is so boring. Yawn,” she says. “Showcase you in a slightly more exciting, yet professional setting.” Take Levo editors Amy Elisa Jackson and Jenny Groza for example—there’s nothing boring about these headshots. Learn the anatomy of a great profile picture and check out Pinterest for more personal branding tips.
Photo: Morsa Images / Getty Images