Using social media to get noticed

Note: this article was written in 2015. It was my most popular post on my own blog — thus I decided to now place it on Medium. Although its one year old, it could still work today.

A few weeks ago my employer decided it wasn’t working out for us. The way they handled it I felt absolutely fine about that to be honest. There’s one thing though: I am the sole income for my family (mortgage, car, 2 kids…). I need to find a new job and prefer to find one soon. I decided I’d like to find out how and if social media could help me out on this one. I needed to get noticed and wondered if social media could help me do just that.

LinkedIn.

I’ve taken LinkedIn as the basis for my experiment. LinkedIn is the business network where you place your résumé online. Just like you “Google” your possible new employer, that employer Googles you. Most often your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn account will be found. LinkedIn keeps a ranking. It gives you feedback on how you rank amongst the people you know.

On LinkedIn I’ve got about 475 connections. At the beginning of this experiment I ranked at 128. That’s not bad, but it isn’t brilliant. It meant that my profile was viewed an average 1,5 times a week. And there was my challenge. I wanted to get noticed and try to rank in the top 25, meaning an average 15 profile views a week. That would be my goal and I decided a combination of social media would have to make this happen for me.

Liking (professional) content.

Using the three accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) I first started liking content. On Facebook I already liked content, I didn’t on Twitter and LinkedIn. So I started favouring content on Twitter. Professional content that related to my profession. The easiest thing to do is start adding messages from companies you respect as favourites.

Fantasy Interactive has been inspiring and still is for many in my expertise. They are an inspiration to me too. By favouring some of their tweets you do leave an impression of what you want to achieve, your ambition. You show a little bit of what you feel to be important.

On Facebook you like groups or messages that fall into your expertise or what you want to achieve. Every year early April the DIA (Dutch Interactive Awards) nominees are presented. So you know the nominated agencies will promote their nomination. So I browsed through the nominees and found out which nominations were justified to me. I then visited those companies on the social channels and liked their promotion. Again, this reflects my respect for great work and my own ambitions.

Sharing professional content.

Next step is to share articles or blog items you appreciate. A lot has changed in my profession over the past years. Where I was a Visual Designer I am now more a UX Designer. So what is UX? What does it mean for my profession? There are lots of articles about the changes, so its really worth finding great articles you support and sharing them. It shows you are living your profession.

You are keeping track of the changes and keep developing yourself, keep educating yourself. I don’t want to repeat a trick time and time again — I want to evolve and keep learning. Thats quite a strong message for possible employers.

Changing your title on LinkedIn.

Changes in a job title are noticed on LinkedIn. So when you are trying to find a new job its a good thing to mention this on LinkedIn. However, it may not be smart to just have a line that states “Looking for a new job”. That may appear a bit needy. So when it was communicated internally at my employer that I would be leaving I changed it to “Art Director Evident | Looking for a new challenge”.

There’s a lot of power in such a job title. First it indicates I am working somewhere and my role there. Next it states I am looking for a new challenge. It doesn’t mention I am looking for a new job too needy — and yet it does. It mostly indicates I am looking for something to give my all. It also indicates I have either reached my top at the employer or that I am not challenged there. Thats a pretty nice statement for employers — here’s a guy with ambition.

Pimp your résumé.

The social activities landed me on place 81 in the LinkedIn ranking. So while it was working it wasn’t getting me near my desired top 25. I decided to pimp my résumé and created a single page PDF-format. Before I pimped it my résumé was a 5-page Word document. Thats just so old-fashioned…

I then shared a JPG version of the PDF on my social channels and asked people to share. Something amazing happened as many people started to share my résumé, including many clients I’ve worked for. I am very thankful for my friends, colleagues and clients for sharing. The support of clients is something I hadn’t expected and am very proud of.

This made me realize my goal, three days after sharing I noticed the ranking on LinkedIn and I was ranked number 14 out of my 475 contacts. I received 26 visits on my profile in three days. If you then realize that the top 10 is mostly made up of recruiters (who use LinkedIn actively every day) number 14 isn’t bad at all. I was ranked between Client Managers and CEO’s.

Sharing your portfolio.

In my profession it is pretty important to have a decent portfolio. I didn’t have one, it was pretty dated in technique and design. I am a Designer and not a Developer. So my challenge was building a new one. Thankfully I found a colleague who wanted to help me out. When I finished the design for my website I started to promote it on social media. I posted a first visual of the homepage with text that stated I was working hard to have it up and running May 1st — my first day out of a job.

Remember that colleague? He did a brilliant job and delivered the website just before Easter. Easter in The Netherlands means people don’t have to work on Easter Monday. So instead of launching just before or during Easter I decided to launch the Tuesday after Easter. When people return to work from a long weekend they first check their social channels, at least that was what I expected.

So on Tuesday I posted the image shown above on all my social channels. Again, this was shared a lot and the amount of visitors on my LinkedIn profile increased. I was now at an average of 40 visitors every three days. That meant I moved from number 14 to number 11 in the ranking!

Job interviews and Behance.

Then I started doing job interviews. Even the ones where the companies indicated the job was taken, but they appreciated my new résumé and website — and wanted to meet because of that. At one job interview the interviewer asked for my Behance account. I had made one a few years ago, but never really paid too much attention to it. It became clear to me that a lot of companies don’t expect you to have your own portfolio website — many of them expect to find you on Behance.

This was a shock to me as my Behance was outdated. It was bad. So I updated my Behance profile and posted many of the more recent projects, including the webdesign of my new portfolio website. Suddenly I was found on Behance!

Lots more attention indeed. A different range of companies found me through social media. All of a sudden people started contacting me.

At the height.

At the height of my social visibility I was ranked number 6 at LinkedIn (71 visits a week!) and had been the solid number 1 at Evident (my former employer) for 5 weeks running. I remained at number 6 for a few weeks.

Unfortunately then I slacked. My children started a spring-holiday and I was distracted too much. Although I am still in the top 10 of my connections, I am not doing enough to follow through. A decline is clearly visible as I am spending more time with my children, less behind my computer. No complaints though — it’s been a thrill to spend quality time together!

The result.

The result so far is that I did get noticed big time. I’ve seen people from all kinds of companies visit my LinkedIn profile. People who I feel would have never found me if it wasn’t for people sharing my social updates. I feel very proud of my contacts, who have made things happen for me.

May 1st is my first day without a job. I was hoping to find a new job before May 1st, but I haven’t found one. I feel I’m close to finding one though.
Note: I actually started freelance for almost 2 months at a client May 1st, then moved on to a fulltime job.

The cool thing about my “social quest” for me was that it works. Kind people sharing your messages make it work. I have been contacted by companies who actually found me, not the other way around. Thats quite a privilege.

Thank you.

A big thank you to everyone who has helped me out by sharing my messages. Your support has been awesome! I hope you like the honesty in this blog post and that it may possibly help you get noticed too.

Thanks for reading.
Corné