Getting all your ducks in a row after leaving the army can take some time...
...so creating or updating your social media channels probably isn’t high on your list.
But if you’re job hunting, social media can be an invaluable tool for networking and building your public job profile. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can help you land your dream overseas contract role or send you off on a new career path, or, if done badly, it can instantly eliminate you from the promotion or hiring process.
Most employers will do a search on your name during recruitment, so it’s important that you configure your public profiles so they reflect your best side. Here are four ways to use networking and social media to your advantage when searching for a job after leaving the army.
4 ways to use social media to find a job after leaving the army
1. Build your profile
During armed forces service, many personnel choose to keep a low profile on social media – some people even choose to totally abstain or use an alias so they cannot be identified.
All of the armed forces instigate their own, fairly strict, social media policies for the safety and security of serving personnel, but on leaving the army, or any of the armed forces, you’re free to use social media channels as you please.
This does mean, however, that your name may draw a blank on social media if you’ve never used it before. While this isn’t terrible, it does mean that you’re not using all the opportunities available to you.
Think outside the box in terms of what you use your social media platforms for: while Facebook and Instagram are useful for socialising and research, LinkedIn is a great tool for professional networking and Twitter is an ideal news source.
You can even use it as your own personal press office, so if you gain a new qualification or bump up your skills, let the world know – in 280 characters or less.
2. Research prospective employers
While it may be useful to be connected to your school friends, ex-army buddies and all the family, social media is also an invaluable networking tool.
You can use it to research jobs and companies you might be interested in and if you have met some contacts previously, you can invite them to connect with you so that you can stay in touch – you never know what it might lead to in the future.
Social media profiles are also a good way to get to know what it might be like to work for a potential employer. Reading their blogs, tweets and LinkedIn posts will give you an idea of their business focus and working culture.
Plus, keeping up with company social media posts will help you with some conversation pointers if you’re invited to interview.
3. Keep up to date with industry knowledge
In this digital age, most organisations have a social media presence and you can use this to your advantage when keeping up with the latest developments in your industry.
Twitter, for example, can be an excellent source of as-it-happens news and information as you can follow accounts and hashtags which are important to you and your career path.
For example, if you are searching for jobs in aviation, you could follow Boeing, Lockheed Martin and GE Aviation. When a company releases new technology or announces exciting developments, you’ll usually see it on Twitter first.
4. Present a positive image
Social media can be a great way of staying in touch with friends and joining in with the latest trends, but it’s important that your profiles present your character in the best possible light: use each of your channels to showcase what a likeable – and hireable! – person you are.
Ensure you use appropriate profile pictures (no shirtless holiday photos or drunken nights out) and delete or hide any other visible photos that could be deemed as questionable.
Go through each account with an employer’s eye: make sure your privacy settings keep most of your account under wraps and ensure that any public information is suitable for a family audience.
While Googling yourself might seem strange, it’s worth doing a search on your name on the search engine and on popular social media sites, just in case there’s something online which may put off a potential employer. It’s unlikely that you’ll find something to worry about, but if you find anything incorrect or misleading, it gives you a chance to fix it before a recruiter spots it.
While most of these may seem obvious, make sure your profiles are free from any of the following:
- Drugs or alcohol use
- Political rants and profanity
- Spelling and grammatical errors
- Showing off and oversharing
- Excessive selfies or too much skin on display
Better still, ensure that your personal profiles are set to private.
As you navigate your career transition on leaving the army, social media can be a useful tool for networking, boosting your profile and finding a new job.
Used to its best advantage, social media can elevate your employability and help you become a strong online presence during your job hunt.
If you need more advice on how social media can help your next career change, our team can help – get in touch with us to find out how (and don’t forget to follow us on our social media channels!).