How Do You Use Social Media to Network?

Louise Chaplin is a Partner and Head of Board Practice at Eton Bridge Partners, which specialises in executive search and interim management. A former Army officer, Louise outlines the crucial role social media plays in the job market.

Social media is essential for building a new career after leaving the Armed Forces. By using social media to expand your network you will open up opportunities for your commercial career. This network will support you in the short, medium and long term and if sustained will add real value both personally and professionally.

As search consultants, LinkedIn is an important tool we use to find suitable candidates, so ensure your profile is accurate and up to date: include a profile picture, brief bullet point CV and location. If you know your leaving date, then include this in your profile, having a professional LinkedIn presence helps to remove easy barriers to employers’ rigorous selection processes.

Researchers and head hunters use LinkedIn by searching through connections and by keywords, so consider what roles you are looking for and your expertise. Change your military job titles to a civilian equivalent, highlighting responsibilities such as team size, budgets under management and reporting lines.

The employment market is founded on a network, it is vital you use your current and newly formed network and take the opportunity to ask your connections for recommendations. Try to connect with individuals you have a genuine link with or ask for an introduction from someone who is a mutual contact.

Maintaining and continuously building your network is key for any professional. The depth of the contact will depend on the regularity of communication. People like being asked for advice and will generally be happy to share their insight on the market or any opportunities that may be on their radar. The referral network works both ways: you will already have a strong network, be prepared to recommend or introduce a colleague.

Before you have a job interview, you can gain great insight by researching the organisation on social media. See what current and former employees say about working for that company on Glassdoor. Also research the people interviewing you, and afterwards add them on LinkedIn. Even if you are not successful in the first instance, there could be other opportunities in the future.

Used effectively social media is vital in:

  • Expanding your network
  • Understanding the market
  • Researching prior to an interview.

This article originally appeared in Pathfinder, the monthly magazine for Service leavers. The OA edits a regular article called ‘Ask the Expert’, where career questions are answered by a panel of experts. 

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