Landing your dream internship is no easy feat. Many employers call for an experienced candidate with relevant skills and a personality compatible with company culture. To stand out, you need to think outside the box — and social media platforms can offer a goldmine of your strongest selling points.
Cover letters and resumes, although a necessary requirement for most job postings, don’t always provide an accurate portrayal of who you are to an internship employer. Your application materials may shout, “Hire me!” — but beefing up your online profiles, includingFacebook, LinkedIn, GitHub and even your personal website or blog, can ultimately be your golden ticket.
What an internship employer finds online can make or break hiring decisions. Here are six things your online profiles need to showcase while you’re on the hunt for a dream job or internship.
Cover letters and resumes are almost always going to read as professional documents — but your online profiles can offer perhaps the most accurate reflection of your level of professionalism. While social media profiles are mainly used for, well, socializing, there’s always room for you to flaunt your professional talents: the projects you’ve worked on and various qualities that might appeal to a potential employer. While there’s no golden rule for professional social communication, below are a few tips on how to display professionalism in your online profiles.
Participate in relevant conversations on LinkedIn, and be sure that your LinkedIn profile is an adequate reflection of your skills and experience.
Engage in professional conversations on Facebook about news stories, expert opinions and industry information. Utilizing relevant hashtags (sparingly) displays your investment in the conversation.
Showcase your passion for your future career by mentioning events (like hackathons) you’ve attended, side projects you’ve been involved with and volunteer experiences you’ve completed.
Highlight your personality traits by mixing personal and professional posts — be sure that you’re not posting anything too personal. Your “Spring Break ’08” photo album should probably remain for your eyes only.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to professionalism, displaying interest in the industry you wish to enter is a great start.
You may not use your online profiles to engage in career-related conversations, but there are still a variety of ways in which employers can determine whether or not you’re invested in your industry.
You may be more interested in following the conversation or sharing valuable information rather than actively participating. If this is the case, be sure you’re following thought leaders and sharing any industry-related links or insights to show you’re keeping up with the conversation.
On Twitter, participate in Twitter chats related to your major or industry. Curate your profile with retweets that are intriguing.
For LinkedIn, join groups that are specific to your space.
As always, be consistent and stay active so the employer knows it’s not a temporary spike.
Conversation on social media will often take a more short-form, casual tone. But this doesn’t mean you should throw grammar, spelling and general sentence structure out the window. Rather, your online profiles should highlight your expertise in sharing information, connecting with others and properly representing your interests — and it should do so articulately and intelligently.
Post well-crafted updates, confident exchanges of insight and conversations on a variety of topics.
Start a blog — whether it’s through Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger — and share your posts to showcase your writing skills and grasp of the industry.
The “wow” factor,
While voice, professionalism and passion are a good start, you shouldn’t be afraid to step it up a notch when applying for an internship. Seize the opportunity to stand out.
On Twitter, consider creating a hashtag for your dream internship. This allows you to put your social media profile at the center of the application process and gives the internship employer a sense of your online footprint in real-time.
You may also consider posting a video resume, or creating an online campaign to really impress your potential internship employer.
A large, valuable network,
Often, it’s all about who you know when it comes to securing an internship or job. Consider your online network as a group of professional references — while members of your network may not have directly signed off on your expertise, you’ve made the decision to follow and communicate with them.
Follow and, if possible, engage with as many influencers, innovators or leaders in your industry as you can. Not only do these interactions highlight your devout interest in your career, but they also provide evidence that you’re staying up-to-date on the relevant conversations taking place online.
Your online profile should consistently present a variety of applicable links — not only to industry-relevant content, but to your own portfolios, profiles and online work. An internship employer should be able to easily find a link to your personal website, blog, online portfolio and even your resume. This shows commitment and makes your application materials more accessible.
Red flags to avoid
You probably use your online profiles for personal updates, which is unavoidable — but unfortunately, many internship candidates take this a little too far and post some cringe-worthy content. Remain wary of a few warning signs that potential employers may find worrisome.
Updates that are opposite of the company’s values
Repeated controversial posts on a number of topics
Plagiarism or unsourced information
Badmouthing your previous employer
If you want that coveted internship, put your best face forward on your online profiles. Show that you’re up-to-date on relevant company information, passionate about the industry and an all-around savvy Internet user: Bonus points if you’ve reached out to the company via social media prior to your screening process.