The Gen X Jobseeker’s Guide to Social Media

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A lot of air time is spent discussing generational workplace culture clashes involving Millennials x Boomers, yet very little focus is given to the work-hard, play-hard Generation X. Yes, that ratty bunch of rascals that was breastfed punk and indie music wasn’t just born into a cyber-world like Millennials. No, Gen X gave birth to it.

Interestingly enough, though, I have found that once they’ve been discharged from a company (often one they’ve been in for decades), a rather hefty portion of my Gen X clients’s characteristic grittiness turns into brittleness. I see this very clearly when start out their job search projects by relying on more traditional tactics for finding a new job, such as job postings on news outlets, or “I know a guy who knows a guy,” rather than on more current, clever tactics in Career Transition, such as Social Media. It seems that, in spite of having birthed their cyber-baby, once it grew up into an interesting yet somewhat challenging cyber-teenager, it made some Gen X-ers cross their arms, dig their heels in, and turn back towards the weapons of ages past.

My dearest Gen X-er: if this sounds like you, hold my hand, look me in the eye, and repeat after me: “It doesn’t have to be that hard.” To that end, I’d like to offer you a few pointers to help get you started, OK?

Should you or shouldn’t you?

  1. First of all, let’s look at YOU. Millennials? The world is awash in them. But Generation X is independent, resourceful, self-managing, skeptical, cynical, pragmatic, and most of all adaptable. These are valuable, transferrable skills you can successfully apply in your job hunt. Be proud of your Generation, and wield your unique weapons!
  2. Social Media is easier than it looks. Seriously. These sites have evolved beautifully to make your experience as fun and painless as possible. There are prompts that tell you what you can do next, and you can advance as far as you’re comfortable with: from an easy everyday chat to the dark and murky corners of their account analytics. It’s up to you. And, of course, the more you play, the better you get at it. Tap into your resourcefulness and your adaptability powers.
  3. You have a choice. You always do. You can chose to opt out of Social Media. If you do, though, you have to own the fact that you’re going to be missing out on a colossal share of services, trends, relevant news, and most of all: work opportunities.
  4. Nowadays, privacy is about what you do, not what you post. The biggest change brought about by Social Media, and perhaps the hardest to assimilate, is that all lives are now public, whether you’re active about your online presence or not. So take care of how people perceive you in real life, first and foremost. Every regular Joe has a camera in their pocket nowadays. And you can always adjust your privacy settings on most sites!
  5. Own your own Social Media profiles, or someone else will (whoops!). I’ve seen it happen more than once, and the time and money spent repairing the damage far outweigh the 5 minutes spent in registering at a signup page.

Where to start? The essential, bare-bones basics:

Ideally, you should at least have an account set up for what I call the Basic Trio: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you work with products or services that people can see, Instagram is also very helpful, and increasingly popular. There’s a ton of others, of course, but I’ll stick to these four for now.

  • Think of LinkedIn as a corporate event, where you meet and greet colleagues and recruiters from fields that interest you. Keep things clean, polished and (very important!) updated there. You can use LinkedIn to actively search for jobs, stakeholders in your companies of interest, to post articles like this one, as well as to get informed on the latest trends in your industry. Make sure you refer to your own work in all sorts of terminology which recruiters might be looking for. An example: Human Resources can be referred to as HR, People Operations, Talent Department, and so on.

  • Facebook, on the other hand, is more like that restaurant where you order your favourite foods and meet your friends to talk at length about all sorts of topics you’re interested in. Don’t be fooled: recruiters and hiring managers will look at your Facebook page a) to make sure you have one and are not a dinosaur, and b) to check for cultural fit. You can be as open and frank about your opinions on politics, or coriander, for example (me, I love it to bits!) but if the sector you’re interested in working in frowns on coriander, your chances of landing that dream job are diminished. Curate your content a bit, tweak your privacy settings, and you’ll be OK. And experiment as much as possible: Facebook is the fastest-growing platform today, and is coming up with thrilling new features on a daily basis, which you can use to your career advantage!

  • If Facebook is a restaurant, Twitter is a cocktail party, where you get to meet a ton of new people for short, focused conversations, which you can easily slip into by searching for keywords or #hashtags. On Twitter, people love to be interacted with through replies, retweets (your way of telling the Twitter world, “Hey, look at what this person said here!”), and group chats on industry-specific topics. As your number of (preferably organic) followers grows, Twitter’s benefits become increasingly robust: your brand as a Subject Matter Expert, your influence, your networking and your visibility skyrocket, and this strengthens your job search strength tenfold.

  • Instagram is your shop window, your mood board. It showcases your crafts, your products, the day-to-day life that makes you interesting and unique. Instagram resonates with an increasingly strong trend to use images instead of words to convey who you are, what you think and what you do. Again, curate your posts. Make sure the images aren’t risqué (or they WILL come back to haunt you, if that’s not your thing) and that you’ve given some thought to image quality (try their nifty filters!). Their live video feature is also soaring and has other video streaming apps (***cough cough Snapchat) on its knees. What’s very popular is very visible, so make sure to try this to showcase what you’re about.

I have found that my clients greatly benefitted from the enhanced personal branding, networking, and updated digital skills, all of which cut their time to find a fulfilling, meaningful job by up to 50%. If you have any questions as to how Social Media can help you in your next career move, you can reach me on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn. (See what I did there? There you go, you’re getting it!)

See you there!


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