An online presence can greatly enhance your ability to market yourself to potential employers when you are seeking a career transition. Even if you don’t know HTML and have never created a website, there are numerous platforms available that can make it easy. Here are some ideas for ways you can use online media to market yourself during your job search:
Social media and email can be important tools to veterinarians seeking to make a career transition. But done badly, they also can be your worst enemies. Make sure to follow proper etiquette at all times when using electronic communications for your job search.
LinkedIn: Many first interviews are granted based on LinkedIn profiles, not resumes. Make sure your profile is up to date and includes all of your experience. LinkedIn also has professional groups available where you many find new people in your field of interest. Search for relevant keywords in the search bar. You can filter the results to show only groups, jobs, people, or companies. Some groups are open, while others will require approval to join.
Facebook: Many employers check the Facebook profiles of job candidates (some reports are up to 92%), and 30% say they have rejected a candidate based on what they have seen on Facebook. Remember that anyone can see your Facebook profile picture, security settings are frequently changed without notice, and friends may “tag” you in posts without your knowledge. Even if you have your security set to “friends of friends”, if you have 250 friends and each of your friends has 250 friends, your profile will be exposed to potentially thousands of people.
In one study of Facebook profiles of early career veterinarians in Canada1, 71% of graduates were found to have a profile. Of those, 21% of the profiles were considered “high exposure” due to security settings, and 15% had what was considered inappropriate content. This included content that breached client confidentiality, obscenity, evidence of substance use/abuse, suggestive photos, sexist or racist remarks, and juvenile photos.
Certainly, when used appropriately Facebook can be used for positive self-promotion and networking. Facebook is testing a feature whereby users can add professional skills to their profile. Once that list has been filled out, Facebook links each skill to relevant special interest groups. The default option is for these skills to be public so they are easily searchable by employers, so beware other security settings. Facebook’s Graph Search also allows you to search your network and extended network for connections to certain companies or educational backgrounds.
Twitter: Twitter is a social networking site that limits user posts to 140 characters each. When a user posts updates, these are displayed on the user’s own profile page and are delivered to other users who have signed up to follow that person. By following industry experts, you might be able to hear about job opportunities. You can also establish yourself as a subject matter expert by tweeting about industry topics or news. Your Twitter profile page also can include a bio, custom background, and links to your online resume.
Pinterest: Pinterest is a social bookmarking site where you can “pin” images and stories that you like. You can pin your resume to Pinterest to get it shared throughout the site. You can also create a whole resume pinboard where each part of your resume is its own pin. You also can pin your previous employers, schools you have attended, or organizations where you have volunteered. Once you have created your resume pinboard, add it to your LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile, email signature, and calling cards. Just be sure to keep your board up to date and professional, as it will be viewable by anyone.
If you are currently employed but considering a career transition (and don’t want your current boss to know about it), use the personal messaging options within social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to reach out to individual connections. In most cases these messages are better received than large broadcast messages, and direct messaging will protect your privacy. Just start each personal message with an introduction reminding your recipient how you know each other before you launch into what you want. Always remember to thank your contacts for their time.
1 Weijs CA, Coe JB, Christofides E, et al. Facebook use among early-career veterinarians in Ontario, Canada. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2013;242:1083-1090.