Using social media to get ahead

Ashley Houston is an Academic Advisor specialising in online education and she's also got a passion for using social media to market yourself to employers. 

1. Your Pinterest boards are great. What tips do you have for posting portfolios or resumes on Pinterest?Pinterest has become a new venue for me when looking to market myself to potential employers. I first became aware of the Pinterest resume phenomenon through a seminar with Mandy Reinig. My resume board is very much a work in progress as I haven’t had as much time to devote to it as I would like!


“...the Pinterest resume phenomenon...”

You have to be careful when creating a resume board on Pinterest because if you are directing individuals there for professional purposes the rest of your Pinterest boards may need some cleaning up. Make sure to review other boards for your account and de-clutter what is not professional. Are there things you would not want a potential employer to see? This is true for any social media usage. I’m not saying you have to delete your recipe or fashion boards, but don’t put them front and centre.

Rearranging your resume board and other pertinent boards to the top of your page is helpful for others to easily access. It can be anything from a board on organizations you support, to advice links. Know your audience and the field you are in! 

Another key element is making sure to use your image description area wisely. What does the image represent and do you have examples? There’s a fine line between being too wordy and too brief.

2. And how about video resumes on YouTube?Using YouTube for video resumes is another great forum to expose yourself in today’s competitive marketplace. Video resumes are innovative and can present new options for showcasing your personality and standing out. I cannot say I know very much about video resumes though as it’s something I haven’t investigated as thoroughly as I would like. I think it may be appropriate for some fields and not others. A general tip: never create something just to create it-be that a Pinterest board or a video resume. Be authentic to you.

If you do feel a video resume is something you’re interested in it’s important to think about what more you can convey to a potential employer via video rather than a typical resume. Also, basic filming elements like lighting, sound, physical appearance and being well rehearsed are all key to creating a professional representation of yourself. It’s important to be creative and concise, but have a friend or colleague take a look and give feedback before putting it out there.

3. What advice do you have for students using LinkedIn?LinkedIn is essential for anyone who works or is looking to work. Even if you’re in a niche area or working for a 5-person nonprofit, LinkedIn is crucial for professional networking, staying abreast to trends in the field, and marketing yourself. 

Students can benefit too. By searching for job titles in fields you are interested in you can see what the typical skills and competencies are for others who possess the title. Do you need a certain degree or experience? The same goes for joining LinkedIn groups. They’re a fantastic way to network yourself like crazy. You also become more educated on hot topics and current events by reading what is shared or participating in communications and questions posed. Make sure to connect with alumni from your institution, you never know what those kind of connections can lead to. Someone might know someone who…(fill in the blank).

Your LinkedIn profile is the first thing that will come up when employers Google your name, so make it stand out. I am currently taking this course on bettering my LinkedIn profile by the amazing Cate Brubaker.

I could go on and on about the benefits of LinkedIn - get yourself on there if you’re not! For more information on LinkedIn and job resources/articles check out my Job board on Pinterest or connect with me on LinkedIn (mention how you heard of me to clarify if we haven’t connected before).

4. Any other advice for students on using social media to leverage career enhancement?Social media is a huge platform for networking, news, learning, and general communication. To leverage further opportunities for career advancement I recommend getting educated and involved with Twitter


“Twitter is an exemplar for connecting to those who matter”

Twitter is an exemplar for connecting to those who matter in the field or are of personal interest to you.  You aren’t going to necessarily add someone as a connection on LinkedIn that is an authority in the field unless you know them or have a reason to request that. Twitter allows you to follow people and see what they are thinking about or advocating. Observing their tweets can give you an edge to reach out to them and create a link (consider asking a follow-up question via the reply link, or show similar interest in a topic by using the retweet function).

Once you are connected to those who matter in the field the possibilities are endless. But, finding who to follow is the first step. Do your research. Search for key terms or hashtags and see who is using them. Easier yet, search for names of well-known experts who stand out in your field. I would also recommend organizing your account into lists if you are using Twitter for personal and professional reasons. This helps you sort more effectively and categorize followers. Again, make sure your tweets appeal to your whole audience, not just friends, especially if you are looking for professional opportunities.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter for further tips and other travel or education-related news.

5. You work for a university that specialises in online degrees. Is this a growing field?Online education is a growing (and changing) field. Extending access to higher education for adults is in demand, especially in this economy. At Capella, we cater to the working professional who is trying to balance working full or part-time and furthering their education. Many times it is with the goal of career advancement or to fulfill a requirement and change careers. At Capella we offer a wide range of programs at varying degree levels. 

Each programme has its own distinct structure and requirements. Online programmes are very writing driven. Our adult learners are active in courseroom discussions, research, field work, and even residential colloquia.

Their locations span worldwide. Capella learners can login at any time anywhere. This opens up learning to a broader range of people who are now able to fit further education into their busy lives. Capella is focused on skills outcomes and helping our learners move toward their purpose. Using a scholar-practitioner model our learners are able to relate courseroom learning to real life work scenarios. We build our programmes based on professional standards and employer insights.

6. Describe your role of Academic Advisor and what it entails.My role as an academic advisor at Capella University is multifaceted. Due to the fact that we are an online institution of higher education most of the communication that occurs is via phone or e-mail. As such, my job entails actively listening for conversation cues, empathizing, coaching, and basic policy and procedure advisement. 

Day-to-day this comes as answering calls and e-mails from adult learners who have questions, concerns, or complaints about their educational experience.  It ranges from academic planning and course registration to facilitating relationships with faculty to discussing writing resources and career preparation.

Ashley Houston is an Academic Advisor at Capella University with a passion for social media and international education. She has a BA in Japanese Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and is working towards her Master’s degree in Education.