Can Twitter or Instagram help you land your dream job? According to Aliza Licht, senior vice president of communications for Donna Karan, it can not only help, it can make —or break — your career (seriously, don’t complain about your job on social, people).
Licht should know. She is the superstar force behind DKNY PR Girl, the online personality who reinvented social media for fashion brands, businesses and the people who want to work for them. To her, Twitter may be the world’s “biggest cocktail party,” but it’s no joke.
“Social is like your online resume,” Licht says. “Employers are checking it before they even meet you for an interview, and it’s a great way to pave the road for yourself.”
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So how to make sure your social media presence exudes personality while maintaining professionalism and poise? We asked Licht — who has just written a killer career-advice book, “Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media.” — for her tips.
Have a polished profile pic
Real talk: No one wants to hire an egg. “Your picture should reflect whatever it is that you want people to think about you,” says Licht, “and if you’re an egg on Twitter ... that’s not exactly putting your best foot forward.” Licht’s recommendation? A professional-looking portrait. “It’s really important for people who want to move up the ladder to have that headshot at the ready.” she says. “Why not use it for social media too? It makes you appear established, even if you’re not.”
Follow your industry's superstars
Before you start firing your 140-character missives, you’ll want to do your research. “Think about your goal — is it to launch a new business or project, is it to get a job? — and then follow people who do what you want to do or who work where you want to work,” advises Licht. “I started my @LEAVEYOURMARKxoTwitter handle way before the book came out, so I could follow book reviewers and editors and educate myself on the whole publishing world. You learn so much just by observing.”
Even if you have a clear idea of what you want to get out of social media, nailing the right voice and persona can be tricky. But, even after studying the habits of other social media superstars, the only way you’ll really learn how tweet (or ‘gram or “tumble”) is by doing it. “You’ll start to see, oh they really like when I talk about X, or oh when I posted about Y it was like a tumbleweed going by,” says Licht. “You’ll learn what people are interested in and give them more of what they want.”
Don’t be shy
“The great thing about Twitter is you can speak to anyone — there is no hierarchy,” Licht says. So, why not reach out to or engage with your heroes and dream employers? “It’s not necessarily about contacting them every day, but once in a while you can favorite something, retweet something, compliment something.Make your presence known, but in a way that isn’t like stalking.”
It can pay off big time. “I have this guy who is based in New Zealand who I engaged with quite often over the past six years on Twitter,” says Licht. “Just last year he reached out to me and said, ‘I would love to get an internship.’ I was like, Oh my God, yeah! I totally knew the minute I saw the email and his Twitter handle who he was.” She hired him.
Follow Raquel on Twitter @RaquelLaneri.