You might not think your social media profile matters if you’re looking for a job in accounting and finance. But at any given moment, a recruiter or potential employer could be searching Google for your online persona, and that doesn't include the last profit and loss statement you prepared.
According to a Robert Half survey, one of the top job search blunders is having an unflattering online presence — and we might add that having one that’s nonexistent or outdated isn’t so great, either.
So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to enhance your social media profile while you search for your next job. Where do you start? Here are eight key steps.
1. Craft your story
Just like a strong resume, your social media profile is a powerful marketing tool, when properly written. Use concise, punchy language to convey an image of who you are as an accounting and finance professional without resorting to lengthy blocks of content. Be sure to update your profile regularly.
- Twitter and Instagram — These social networks allow you to post a short bio on the profile pages that express your essence — in 160 characters or less on Twitter and 150 characters on Instagram. Feel free to give followers a hint of your personality, but remember they may show up on search results when your name is googled. And be a follower, too, of others.
- Facebook — Facebook’s “Details About You” page is where you can share information about what you like to do, who you are and any other details about yourself. You can choose your audience for this information — “Only Me,” “Friends” and “Public.”
- LinkedIn — This platform offers what’s basically a digital resume, with the most in-depth profiles for professionals. Be sure to fill out every section, and include your work experience, job skills, certifications, education and interests.
With LinkedIn, you have lots of space in the summary section to tell the story of who you are as a professional, such as the specific value you’ve created for the employers and clients you’ve worked for, awards you’ve earned, or career goals you’re working on now. If you just happen to have run three marathons in the last year, include that, too! If you’re a job seeker, don’t devote too much real estate to information that isn’t relevant to your current career track.
Be sure to craft a relevant, professional headline. This is the line that appears directly below your name on your profile. Usually, people just feature their job title. That’s fine. But if you want potential contacts to find you easily through their LinkedIn searches, you’ll want the 120 characters you’re allotted here to be relevant keywords and phrases. As an example: Accounting clerk open to new opportunities in the San Francisco area.
One more thing about LinkedIn: Whenever you make profile changes, your contacts receive alerts, which is a quick and simple trick to remind then about you and encourage them to look at your profile.2. Have a professional headshot
You don’t have to pay the big bucks for a professional studio shot to win the "wow" factor, but do make sure your profile photo puts your best professional face forward. After all, it may be the first impression a hiring manager (or anyone online) has of you, one that may be hard to change. Think of it this way: A photo of you looking unkempt, making a silly face or partying could deem you a poor cultural fit for an employer.
Some other profile photo tips, especially for LinkedIn:
- Use a properly sized and high-resolution headshot.
- Frame your shot to show your shoulders and above, with the right lighting and focus.
- Avoid busy or messy backgrounds, and consider a colored backdrop (rather than white) so your photo doesn't look too much like a mug shot.
- Smile! Convey confidence and happiness with a pleasant, approachable expression.
- Go solo and say "no" to group shots, even if it is your team from work.
- Steer clear of photos from your vacation in Cabo or the completion of your mud run.
- Dress for the job you want, as you would in a business environment.
- Update the shot if you’ve changed your hair drastically, undergone significant changes in your appearance or are more than five years older than when the photo was taken.
3. Add external links and uploads
Do you have a blog or a website? Is there a paper or article you've written or contributed to that's posted online? Don't fail to post these links on your social media pages. Including external links allows your contacts to learn even more about you and provides more ways for them to keep in touch with you.
LinkedIn also allows you to upload media such as documents, photos, links, videos or presentations, making this truly your online portfolio. Be that user who adds value when you can, and followers will notice.
4. Keep it relevant
Include information that’s relevant to your professional goals in accounting and finance. Some people who use LinkedIn to find jobs make the mistake of creating a broad profile. You don’t want to give off a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” impression. Employers are increasingly seeking workers with in-demand skills. Use your social media to emphasize your expertise in specific areas, such as auditing or risk assessment.
5. Be personal yet professional
Avoid sharing too much personal information on the Internet. That being said, you don’t have to be strictly business with social media. In the summary section, consider including something that will give potential employers some insight into who you are as a person. For example, you might mention that you volunteer at an animal shelter or enjoy running marathons. As always, use proper grammar and punctuation, and avoid exclamation points and emoticons.
Your social media profile should include links to other sites and networks you use professionally, like your website or blog. If you use Facebook just for keeping up with friends and family only, don’t point to it from LinkedIn.
6. Get recommendations
Don’t overlook this valuable feature on LinkedIn. Recommendations show potential employers how others view you, add credibility to your portfolio and give people an outside view to evaluate you. You can ask for recommendations from your colleagues, past and present, and endorse people you know, too.
7. Practice good etiquette
Employers frequently research potential candidates online and are often put off by poor etiquette. When you comment on others’ posts, don’t forget that these interactions are public. Never use inappropriate language and avoid complaining about former employers, coworkers and clients (even anonymously). Again, a potential future employer may be reading.
8. Don’t make it all about you
Remember that any social network involves give-and-take. Follow other users. Make time to interact with your connections, offer recommendations and endorse their skills. What goes around comes around on social platforms. In short, aim to be as helpful as possible.
With more and more companies discovering social media, it makes sense that hiring managers will use it to search for background on potential job candidates. This makes it even more important that you actively manage your “social” life.
Companies want to hire real people; however, if you want to make sure you don’t get rejected because of what’s out there, make sure your social media profile depicts the type of worker a company would want. Showcase your professional side and your knowledge and expertise.
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