by Sam Lark Jr, Guest Contributor
As a military spouse, I’ve realized that applying online for a job and waiting to be contacted by the hiring manager doesn’t work.
I used social media to establish my personal brand, bypass job applications, get noticed and hired (twice).
In order to tell this story, we need to lay some groundwork.
I have a chemistry degree. I worked for several years in research and development. In 2011, I left my position on good terms, and the only place I ever knew to be home, Philadelphia. I moved to Orlando to follow my heart. My wife Michelle (who was my girlfriend at that time) was living in Florida. I dropped everything and took a chance on love. Looking back, I’d do it all over again.
The economy in Florida was tough. After struggling for 3 years, we took a chance on Michelle getting into the Workforce Opportunity Services’ (WOS) program designed to get veterans careers in the corporate world. We had to move to New Jersey for this program.
In the beginning of 2015, I attended a job fair for veterans and military spouses. I met a regional manager of Orkin Pest Control. We exchanged information and connected on LinkedIn. At the time, I was working as a telemarketer. Some would say this role didn’t use the full potential of my degree.
However, I turned those lemons into lemonade.
I wrote an article on LinkedIn, “Why You Should Value Your Job As A Telemarketer.” No more than 12 hours after publishing, the regional manager I met at the job fair several months prior, sent me a message on LinkedIn. He said that a role became available and invited me in for a job interview.
If he and I weren’t connected on LinkedIn, he wouldn’t have gotten the notification about my article (note: I was able to see that he viewed my article) and may not have thought about me for the position. I went in for the interview and accepted their job offer.
After nearly a year of working as a contractor in the WOS program, Michelle was offered a full-time role! We had to move from New Jersey to Texas. When we arrived, I applied for a role at Main Street Hub.
I didn’t rely solely on my job application.
I used these 5 approaches on social media:
- I used LinkedIn to make connections with employees holding the same job for which I applied, managers and the Co-CEOs/Founders of the company.
- I had ongoing Twitter conversations with my current manager about his favorite college football team.
- I created a Twitter list with current employees, managers and the company account.
- I watched what was shared to learn more about the company culture and current projects.
- I engaged with the company by commenting on and sharing their social media posts.
The above activities put me on Main Street Hub’s radar. Several weeks after submitting my application, their recruiter reached out to me for an interview. I ultimately became their first-ever hire from Twitter. They featured my story on the company’s blog.
Utilize social media to build your personal brand and control how potential employers see you.
– Sam Lark Jr, Military Spouse Who Works It
As a military spouse, you can use various social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to stand out when applying for jobs. Social media will allow you to build your personal brand, frame your story how you’d like to be perceived and connect with people who can get you an “in” within companies.
As you interact on social media, it’s important to approach networking by seeking to provide value rather than only asking for things.
When companies are hiring, they aren’t only looking for candidates to meet the technical qualifications of the role. They are looking for culture fit as well. To determine this, they look at a person’s personality. Social media provides you a platform for companies to get to know you as a potential employee.
Whenever sharing content on social media, ask yourself these 3 questions before posting:
- “If a potential employer saw this, would it skew their view of me?”
- “Does this enhance the message I’m relaying with my personal brand?”
- “Is this a political, religious or controversial topic?”
If allowed, people’s perception of military spouses can become reality. By only sharing what you want people to see on social media, you control the narrative and determine how people see you.
Sam Lark Jr is an account manager at Main Street Hub. He is passionate about sharing my message with students, career seekers, active duty & transitioning military, veterans, and military spouses. You can connect with Sam on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.