6 Pros and Cons of Social Media During a Job Search

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(U.S. Army)

I get it. Social media can feel like a waste of time. It seems to be all about self-promotion and reads like a popularity contest. If you’re in a job search or looking to grow your career after the military, how necessary is it to be active online? 

Here, we’ll look at the pros and cons of being on social media while in a job search.

Cons of Social Media During a Job Search

It seems every day we hear about another influencer, celebrity or peer who’s made an online gaffe and landed themselves in career hot water. The negatives of being online include:

1. Mistakes can happen and, when they happen online, they're public. An ill-placed post, comment or photo shared online can go viral quickly. Trolls may respond and use your comment out of context. This is terrifying. To ensure you don't fall prey to online mistakes, it’s important to monitor your behavior, relationships and conversations. This all takes time.

2.  It takes a lot of time to establish your online presence, build a following and become known for the values and contribution you can offer. How much time? That’s up to you. But if you simply build a LinkedIn profile and wait for job offers to roll in, you’re being naïve. Instead, the more you engage with others, form meaningful connections, post content that’s valuable and show your expertise and passion, the more your social media efforts pay off. 3. You must share to get found. During your time in the military, it likely served you best to keep a low profile. Now, it's tempting to want to keep things close to the vest and protect your reputation, goals and career aspirations. But if you're hidden from recruiters and others who might want to know or refer you to others, this could prove challenging to your career.

While not having an online presence doesn’t mean you won’t find a job, you will need to consciously put more effort into other self-marketing efforts. Your in-person networking, visibility and executive presence will need to be amplified to get the attention of potential employers.

Pros of Social Media During a Job Search

Why should you embark on an online strategy and routine practice during a job search (or when growing your civilian career)? Here are some reasons:

1. You become findable. Today more than ever before, recruiters and hiring managers scour online profiles to find potential candidates, evaluate them and appraise their value, skills and talents. Your online profiles can show you in a professional, polished and appropriate way to the companies you want to attract. Being found online makes it easier for recruiters to see what you focus on, what you're passionate about and how you interact with others. These insights help them decide whether you could do the job and whether you'd fit in with the company's culture.

2.  You can focus on specific jobs and employers. Using targeted keywords, filters and networking makes it easier for the right employers to find your profile for the right job. Discover the right keywords by reading job descriptions, talking to colleagues and doing online research. When your online profiles match up with keywords employers are searching, they find you! 3. You can control the social media platforms you engage on and how you show up. After you exit the military, your online strategy should be refined to build and grow your civilian career. Consider each social networking platform for the value it offers you to connect with your target audience, position yourself authentically and in line with your personal brand goals, and provide you the opportunity to share, contribute, serve and receive benefits. Not all social media platforms are the same.

Then, you can position yourself with intention and strategy, marketing yourself and your skills. When you approach social media armed with a plan, you'll be intentional about where you show up online, how you interact, the content you share and with whom you connect. 

While you’ll give up some privacy by being found online, you likely will find that you have a lot of control over how you appear, what you say and what others can learn about you. This can prove valuable for employers, customers and networking contacts to get to know you before having a conversation. Over time, these powerful online connections can provide you with insight for your career, mentor and counsel you around your transition, and help you build the civilian job skills you’ll need to succeed.   

Before you decide you don’t need to be on social media to find a job or grow your career, check your assumptions and have a clear reason why. You will likely be asked about your decision as you move through your civilian career.

-- The author of "Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty” (2020) and "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication, and reputation risk management.

A contributing writer for Military.com, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.

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