Using social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok as professional networking tools might sound unconventional, or maybe even a little taboo. But plenty of job-seekers have landed roles in part thanks to social media.
In tech, for example, people rely on social media platforms for things like building a network, fostering relationships, sharing recent work, or finding jobs that aren’t listed yet, explains Taylor Green, Product Designer at Codecademy. The reason? Social media is a touch less formal, and people tend to be on the platforms anyway, which makes it easier to keep track of and respond to messages.
Of course, networking on social media requires tact (commenting “plz hire me” on a recruiter’s personal Instagram is probably not the best way to leave an impression). Not sure how to do it? Here are some social media tips and strategies that will help you refine your personal brand, connect with people you want to work with, and hopefully find that dream job in tech.
Find people who inspire you
Follow people on social media whose careers and work you admire, Taylor says. Don’t limit yourself to just peers or people at your level — you can (and should!) follow leaders at companies where you’d potentially want to work someday. See what they’re working on, notice how they market themselves, and react to posts you find interesting.
Read the room
It’s important to respect that everyone has different boundaries when it comes to social media; some folks are very open with what they share, while others prefer to keep accounts private and siloed from their work life. Sending a work-related DM to someone’s private account could be seen as overstepping — so use your judgment.
Timing also matters, adds Stephen Song, Codecademy Product Designer. With so many people using social media to speak out about social justice issues and keep up with current events, it may not be appropriate to chime in trying to network on social channels. “Going on ‘design Twitter’ and ‘tech Twitter’ has been a really great way to keep up with the industry and meet a bunch of friends and peers,” he says. “Lately it's been a bit tougher to connect because there's so much going on in the world — and thus, social media — but I think it's still a valuable resource.”
Some people are responsive to receiving DMs on social media because they’re more relaxed than, say, a work email. If someone has a public Instagram profile where they regularly post about their career and job, they’d probably be receptive to a DM asking for professional advice.
Once you determine that it’s appropriate to shoot your shot and send a DM, avoid sending a generic or open-ended message, which could easily come across as spam, and instead ask a specific question. “Try to ask them a question that they maybe don’t receive every day to catch their attention,” Taylor says. For example, If you could go back in time and take a class, what would you enroll in to prepare you for your career today? Or something like, Where do you turn for inspiration?
Name-drop a mutual connection
Social media makes it easy to see mutual friends or contacts that you share with a person. If you’re sending a cold LinkedIn message to someone who has a shared connection (whether it’s a friend, school, or organization), it helps to mention that common ground in your note. Research from LinkedIn found that referencing a mutual connection increases the likelihood that people will respond to messages by 51%.
Here’s an example of how someone might respectfully name-drop in a message asking for help with a portfolio: Hi [person’s name], I’m currently honing my skills in machine learning in hopes of starting a career in data science. I’m impressed by your career trajectory and [mutual contact’s name] said you were a great resource when they were building a portfolio. If your schedule allows it, I’d love to get your brief thoughts on my data science portfolio.
Follow company careers accounts
A lot of big tech companies have social media accounts that are specifically for sharing news about open positions and hiring updates. Take a look at Google’s @lifeatgoogle or Spotify’s @lifeatspotify to see how the companies promote job opportunities on Twitter. Following these careers accounts is a great way to keep tabs on who’s hiring and quickly see when new job listings are posted.
Organize your Twitter
Twitter is a surprisingly useful networking platform because it has features like advanced filtering and sorting that allow you to find people and narrow your focus, Taylor says.
For example, you can make a Twitter List, which is a curated list of accounts, for past coworkers or other developers who you want to keep in touch with. Or, you can follow affinity groups that promote tech opportunities, like Diversify Tech @diversifytechco and Women in Tech @WITwomen. Taylor also recommends checking out Twitter Spaces, which are live audio conversations, as a way to learn from thought leaders in your field.
Share professional updates
While “some personal news” tweets and melodramatic LinkedIn posts have a cringey reputation, it’s actually helpful to share your work or professional updates on your social media feeds. For example, maybe you just got a promotion or led a project that you’re proud of. Sharing these work updates on social media — particularly LinkedIn — isn’t bragging, it’s a way to stay on people’s radars and showcase your ongoing accomplishments.
Want more advice for finding your dream job in tech? Check out our Career Center for interview prep, code challenges, and tips from tech recruiters. Once you get in the door and start the formal application process, be sure to check out our Interview Prep courses that will help you master the technical interview.