I’ve started off 2012 on a great foot: at a new job at Langevin Learning Services. I can’t believe how much my career has evolved over the last few years, and how much I’m learning every day. The more I’ve thought about how it came to be that I landed my current gig at Langevin, the more I realize how much social media has played a key role in making it happen. In all probability, it never would have happened without social media.
We’ve all read the news articles about how social media is being used for recruitment, and about how employers are moving away from traditional resumes and focusing on a candidates’ online personality and contributions. My story is a perfect illustration of how developing an online identity can really get your name out there, help you gain great exposure and maybe even land you a job! I’ve decided to write a blog post about how I developed my personal social media identity, and how that helped me land my current gig. Here are the top three factors:
Growing my LinkedIn network
One of the earliest and most important aspects of my “social media identity” is my LinkedIn profile. Several years ago, on the direction of a former boss, I signed up for a LinkedIn account and took the time to completely fill it out. This was when I was at my first job, fresh out of university. I remember thinking how bare my job experience looked and what few connections I had.
Over the years, this has definitely changed. I think that’s because I’ve taken the time to craft (what I hope is) a thorough resume that has a personal touch, but still represents all my relevant work experiences and skills. I keep it as current as possible. I post original, business related status updates from time to time. I really make an effort to have a LinkedIn profile that looks “neat” and visually attractive. I’ve expanded my LinkedIn network over the years through meeting new people as well as by connecting with other instructional design and eLearning professionals through LinkedIn groups and through my Twitter account.
Speaking of Twitter…
Getting on Twitter and expanding my following
The reason I ended up on Twitter is kind of a fluke; I was working at my second job, a small high-tech company, and we were at a round-table meeting discussing social media. One of the project managers mentioned she needed someone to start Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts for the company. She looked around the table for volunteers. I was the only one who knew what Twitter was. Kidding, but really I was the only one at the table with an actual Twitter account (although at this point I wasn’t really using my Twitter account; I had mostly just signed up out of curiosity to check it out and I didn’t “get it” right away). Anyhow, I jumped all over the chance to be “social media coordinator”. Luckily for me, everyone else was really busy with their projects and/or not that interested in social media, so I didn’t have any competition for this awesome role! I was thinking “I can actually be paid to be on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn at work? SWEET!” (or something along those lines).
All joking aside, I took on my new social media role pretty seriously and learned many tricks of the trade (it sounds so cliché, but it’s true!). Eventually, with a lot of new knowledge about social media under my belt, I really expanded my own personal/professional Twitter profile and network. I broke through the 1000 follower barrier recently, which was a great milestone for me.
Finally, one of the most important things I have done with regards to my social media identity has been…
Starting my blog
Writing this blog has been really fun for me, but more importantly, a great learning experience. When I first thought of starting an eLearning or instructional design-related blog, I wasn’t sure if I should. “Do I really know enough to write about this stuff?” is what I originally thought. I’ve always really enjoyed reading and writing, but there are so many well-written and informative blogs out there. I wasn’t sure I’d have the pizzazz required to make a blog stand out amongst thousands. Also, I had heard of WordPress but for some reason it sounded like some intense, difficult to learn application. (Haha! Crazy, I know. I figured out the interface in about an hour, maybe less!)
Eventually I decided I was just going to do it! I needed an outlet for my writing and to share my graphics and artwork. I decided that I don’t have to write authoritative white papers on eLearning and instructional design, or anything like that. Instead, my blog has a casual tone to it and I write about my own personal learning experiences relating to eLearning, social media, graphic design and more. I write about discoveries I’ve made and new things I’ve learned as I follow this intriguing career path. I’m usually inspired to write blog posts after I encounter a problem or a question while I’m working.
How did all of these things help me land my job at Langevin?
Last fall I started following an instructional designer at Langevin Learning Services, Karen, on Twitter and LinkedIn, and she followed me back. Eventually, she subscribed to my blog, which I was pretty stoked about. She had been following my blog for a month or two when I wrote a review of a Langevin Learning Services workshop I took a few years ago. (Instructional Design for New Designers is the workshop, and you can read the review here). The reason I wrote the review was that I actually thought the workshop was terrific. Ever since I took it I’ve been raving to my instructional designer friends how good the workshop was, how much I learned, etc. One night, I needed a topic for my blog and I realized that I should write a review of the workshop I had attended. So I wrote the review and hit publish! I made sure to send the link to Karen on Twitter, since it was good PR for them! I wasn’t expecting anything more to come from it.
A few weeks later, I got a direct message from Karen asking me if I would be interested in doing the pre-screening/interviewing for an Instructional Design position at the company. She had scoped me out on Twitter and LinkedIn, and she knew I had some writing skills and interest in learning new things, thanks to my blog. Of course, the review I had written and the fact I had taken one of their workshops played well in my favour. I jumped at the opportunity to work somewhere that I knew would challenge me and stretch me to my full potential. Fast forward a few months, I got the job! Now I’ve been settled in for a few months and I couldn’t be happier.
That is my tale of how social media helped me land my current job. My story goes to show how important a personal social media identity or “brand” is in 2012. Personally, I enjoy Twitter, LinkedIn and writing my blog so much that it doesn’t ever feel like a drag, or like extra work. This is how I know that I’m in the right field!