Professional Networking on Social Media

Is Your Personal Account Really Separate from Your Professional Life?

It’s no secret that we live in the digital age. Well over half of the global population has a presence on social media, but many people believe that using social media professionally is totally separate from scrolling through your personal feed at home. For serious job seekers, though, social media for professional networking intersects with personal usage all the time.

A phone screen showing a few social media apps

Searchable Social Media Presence(s)

Even when you have your personal account set to private, certain pieces of data are still viewable. This includes your profile picture, how many posts you have, and how many accounts you follow. You—and potential employers—can tell a lot from a simple search.

In an article well before the pandemic, Forbes explained that “social media is a key player in the job search process today,” and “more than a third of all employers utilize these sites in their hiring process.” We can expect percentages to be much higher now, as employers and job seekers alike have grown more used to conducting business online and using social media professionally. The application of social media for professional networking is a common, even expected, facet of the workforce.

Employers commonly browse the social media of prospective employees, evaluating character and personality. This includes aspects such as whether the job seeker:

  • Maintains a standard of professionalism, including politeness and respect. For instance, a hiring manager may rule out a candidate if they see them make derogatory comments on Twitter. It’s best to always keep in mind that your social media is for professional networking, even when you think it’s a personal rant.
  • Seems like a good fit for the company culture. Companies often use social media as a tool for evaluating candidates’ behavior and preferences.
  • Has the qualifications appropriate for the position. Resume truth distortion is usually easy to spot through a quick social media search. Your presence on social media typically represents your actual employment and education history.
  • Demonstrates a genuine interest in and passion for their field. For example, a publishing company looking to hire a new marketing specialist will probably love seeing a candidate who has a clearly cultivated presence on Instagram where they review books.
A smiling woman seated at a table holding a notebook

Be The Best Version of Yourself

When considering your personal and professional social media, it’s most important to still be yourself online. When you try too hard to use social media professionally, perhaps liking every post from your dream employer, you may end up coming across as inauthentic.
Posting personal updates and pictures shows off your personality, but it’s best to consider a broad audience. The “Grandma Rule” is a good principle. If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, don’t post it. Even if you have separate accounts, you probably have friends and family members following your professional account, or colleagues and classmates following your personal account. It’s best to assume that your coworkers will see your posts to err on the side of safety and professionalism.

The Connectivity of Social Media

It’s called social media for a reason. It’s fun to browse on TikTok or scroll through an Instagram feed, but even these platforms aren’t just or primarily for entertainment: social media is for professional networking. While LinkedIn is traditionally associated with networking, there are so many other ways to connect with peers, past employment sources, prospective colleagues and employers, and more. Connections across various social media presences often bridge the gap between personal and professional. Now, more than ever, we discover networking opportunities through our personal social media. 

Smart job seekers will maintain an active presence on social media, cultivating their participation to be both authentic and impressive. You can be the one to link others to prospective opportunities, like connecting a colleague with your own personal contacts, and see the same energy and benefit come back around to you. Through social media, you can make connections with people you would never otherwise know. There’s a potential opportunity for you to find your dream job through social media connections.

Use Social Media to Your Career Advantage

In conclusion, seeing your personal and professional social media presences as totally separate will not serve you well. Professional behavior matters everywhere. When you understand the intersection of personal and professional social media, you can use your presence on these platforms to your career advantage. Professional networking on social media is generally expected now, so don’t be afraid to try it.

If you’re ready to take your career to the next level, let Whitman Associates help you. We have contacts we would love to share with you. Simply email your resume to resumes@whitmanjobs.com to get started.