Can social media help a career transition? (Part 2 of 2)
Social Media Quiz:
Ask yourself these questions to decide which social media platform to explore next:
1. Am I a published writer?
2. Do I enjoy taking photographs?
3. Do I often have random musings that are insightful or at least occasionally deep?
4. Do people often think the things I say are funny?
5. Do people often think the things I say are deep and/or insightful?
6. Do I have more than two hundred friends on Facebook?
7. Am I a social creature?
8. Do I enjoy making visual art, and do I do it often?
9. Do I enjoy crafting, and do I do it often?
10. Do I like to write?
11. Am I a talented writer who can write well with little editing?
12. Do I have skills building websites, even small, uncomplicated ones with tools like Wix or Squarespace?
13. Do I often text friends for reasons beyond making plans, like exchanging witty observations or, my favorite with my girlfriends, “smack talk”?
14. Do I consider myself relatively thick-skinned?
15. Am I good at facilitating conversations with people over Facebook? Do my Facebook threads often run long with several comments?
16. Do I tend to post at least once a week on Facebook?
17. Do I tend to tweet at least once a week?
18. Do I tend to post a photo on Instagram at least once a week?
19. Are jobs I’m seeking asking for social media skills?
20. Does my job interest area intersect strongly with technology beyond basic use of computers?
21. Does my job interest area intersect strongly with journalism?
If you answered “yes” to 2 through 9 or 13 through 21, continue to read this post but be sure to read Part 1 of this post, too, in which I discuss ways to use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to your advantage. For now, read on.
If you answered yes to question 12, you may want to create a “social” or “visual” resume, an online portfolio of your background, skills, experience, and accomplishments you can use to attract employers and business contacts. According to a survey conducted by Workfolio, a website service that creates online resumes, 56 percent of hiring decision-makers are more impressed with a personal website than any other tool. 
One option is to use a service like VisualCV.com, which offers attractive, easily changeable templates and lets you share your resume online with a link, export it as a Google Document and a PDF, and track its views and downloads. You can also include links to blogs, websites, YouTube videos, downloadable portfolios, or writing samples as PDF or Word documents. Look at the examples on the template sites to understand how folks have tailored their page to fit their background and industry.
Many online resumes are actually portfolios, particularly for careers in creative and highly visual industries or any field in which your body of work directly represents your experience. In less than a day, you could build a website with Wix or Squarespace and include video clips, graphic design and writing samples, case studies, audio clips, testimonials and blog posts, giving you far more capacity to showcase your talent than LinkedIn and other social media sites. (FYI, if you do use a website builder, do a search for “resume” or “CV” when evaluating templates. Most website builders offer resume-friendly options.)
Once you have created this portfolio or resume, place a link to it on your LinkedIn profile, website, and all other sites where you have a presence.
If you answered yes to question 12 on the social media questionnaire, consider building a website resume. During this economy, you may need to work on a freelance or project basis either until you find your ideal employment or until you decide to commit fully to running your own business. Even if you don’t plan to freelance or start a new venture, you are in business for yourself for the interim, and a web presence can serve to show off strengths and accomplishments a resume may not fully capture.
For example, Meredith’s ideal was to be employed as a nutritionist in a naturopathic doctor’s office. After a month with no results, she created a simple website, sublet an office one day a week, and offered her services. This brought in some immediately needed cash during the transition, as well as impressing employers when she applied for positions. Potential employers were able to more fully note her specific strengths and professionalism; in addition, she was able to fill in the gap in her resume with web evidence that she was professionally active.
There are two avenues to creating a website. If you are in the creative services industry, your website will be seen as a work sample, and you will want to hire a designer/developer to create a customized site. For many people, using a site like Wix or Squarespace is a viable option because they are low cost and easy to use, and several companies offer excellent telephone support twenty-four hours a day. Wix offers resume templates, and Squarespace offers tips and tricks on how to format their templates to look like resumes. You can choose a format, colors, and pictures that suit your tastes, upload your own pictures, audio, and video materials, and create an interesting, eye-catching presence.
If you answered yes to questions 1, 10, 11, 12 or 19, you should consider starting a blog, if you haven’t already. If your first response is, “I’m not really a writer,” don’t sweat that too much, especially if your field is highly visual. Some of the most popular lifestyle blogs are low on text and high on photography.
Blogging is highly interactive. People read others’ blogs, comment on them and thereby build relationships, learn new things, and draw attention to their own blogs. They run the gamut from highly personal to highly professional. Your purpose during the career transition state is to build and express your professional expertise in a few specialties relevant to future goals.
It will reflect poorly on your web presence if you start a blog and then post rarely or abandon it. Therefore, I suggest that you begin by becoming a blog consumer in your areas of professional interest.
Google a topic such as “blog social justice” or “blog emergency preparedness,” and you will find a list of twenty or more blogs on each topic. After subscribing to several, select two or three. Look for blogs that add to your knowledge and expertise, raise stimulating questions upon which you want to comment and on which you would like to be seen. Begin by posting short, thoughtful, well-researched, and professionally worded comments on these blogs. After a blogging community knows you, ask if you can post an article as a guest. To determine if a blog is popular and/or seeking guest writers, use a directory of top-ranking blogs such as www.alltop.com or www.bloggerlinkup.com.
If you want to start a blog, focus on a topic of expertise related to your industry or job function. It’s only worthwhile to create your own blog if you have a plan and are committed to writing regularly. It is recommended that a serious blogger post several blogs (short essays, pieces, items) per week and regularly comment on other blogs in the same or similar fields. Less than a third of the blogs created remain active after a few months, so you must have a topic that is broad enough that you will be able to write a series of posts without losing interest.
Review other blogs for what is already being well covered. Ask yourself:
What do I have to offer that is different?
Do I have “insider tips” or a novel interpretation of doing something that may benefit employers?
Which areas in my industry do other people come to me for advice?
What can I talk about for hours without becoming boring and repetitive?
If you do identify a niche topic with which you feel comfortable, your next step before making a commitment to start a blog is to reflect on your skills and aptitude as a writer.
Do I enjoy writing, or do I often suffer from writer’s block?
Is my verbal expression and use of grammar good, or will I need an editor?
Is my writing style engaging and professional to match my target employers?
Will demonstrating strong writing skills be a competitive strength for my career goals?
Writing blog articles on your own or other sites builds your web presence and visibility. Joy Cho of Oh Joy! makes a strong case for developing your own blog in Blog Inc. “Although my blog, Oh Joy! started off in a personal vein…the site eventually evolved in a design-focused place where I share with tens of thousands of daily readers the projects I’m working on and the things that inspire my work. My blog…gave me the opportunity to write this book.” Blogging brands you as an expert in your field. Once you get going, you may be able to get a well-known blogger to comment on your blog or refer other readers to your blog. You also want to offer information and assistance to others on the web, so it’s clear that you are contributing as well as taking.
WordPress and Blogger are free blog sites for those of you who are confident in your ability to commit to and manage your own blog. If you don’t want to commit a lot of time to blogging, you could band together with other people in your field and take turns posting articles.
Find Your Own Social Rhythm
If you’re still resistant to social media, honor that in yourself. If you’re open to it, reflect on your overall job search strategy before deciding to invest the time and gravitate toward platforms you think you will enjoy. Tie your social media presences together by using logos from Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to your blog, website, LinkedIn page, and/or virtual CV. Go a step further and use a service like Hubspot that will let you simultaneously Tweet your Facebook posts or share your blog posts through your various social media platforms. Hubspot also lets you load up Facebook, Instagram, and Twitters posts in advance and schedule them throughout your week.
Always balance your comfort and enjoyment with ways to stretch and learn new skills. If you are an introvert who enjoys spending time online, balance your time with getting out for old-fashioned face-to-face networking. By the same token, extroverts who have no lack of plans can augment their professional network by following up online on their preferred social media platform.
 Smith, Jacquelyn. “Why Every Job Seeker Should Have a Personal Website, And What It Should Include.” Forbes. April 26, 2013. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/04/26/why-every-job-seeker-should-have-a-personal-website-and-what-it-should-include/#14d92d6a119e.
Kristin Schuchman, MSW is a career counselor and small business coach based in Portland, Oregon who works with creative and mission-driven professionals. She coaches fledgeling entrepreneurs through the startup phase and seasoned business owners through periods of burnout and indecision. She also consults individuals seeking support for career indecision, next steps, work re-entry, advancement, and work-life-balance. She offers a free 30-minute Zoom or phone session and presently works with clients both remotely and in person (with COVID-safe precautions). Find out more at www.sparkacareer.com.