Since it burst onto the social media scene in 2011, Pinterest has developed a reputation for being the go-to site for women planning imaginary weddings, having imaginary babies and decorating imaginary dream houses. While it’s true that the vast majority of pins have to do with cooking, crafts, decorating and fashion, and that the site users skew heavily toward women (almost 80 percent of all users are female), Pinterest is more than just a place to find the perfect dessert recipe or 1,001 ways to wear a scarf.
Case in point: Pinterest can actually be an important tool for jobseekers, as it can be invaluable for building a personal brand. In short, what appears to be a collection of beautiful images could in fact be your ticket to your dream job.
Start at the Beginning: All About You
Have you ever looked at your Pinterest profile page? If not, you may not realize that every Pinterest user can add a photo, short personal description, and links to their personal blog or website, and Facebook and Twitter profiles. When someone clicks on your profile, he or she can see all of this information and connect with you outside of Pinterest.
Why would you want to do this? Because Pinterest profiles are searchable, and potential employers will most likely find your profile when (not if, when) they search for you online before making a hiring decision. You can change your profile settings so that search engine like Google will ignore it when returning search results, but why not take the opportunity to enhance your personal brand? When your Pinterest profile is in line with the image that you’ve presented elsewhere and shows your commitment to your career and your brand, it can only help you.
It’s All In What You Pin
Chances are an employer isn’t going to care too much about the slow cooker recipes you want to try or how you want to arrange your living room furniture. Still, they may scan the boards you’ve created to get a better idea of your personality and how you will fit within the organization.
For that reason, create a few boards that demonstrate your commitment to your career. A few ideas:
A credentials board. Consider turning your standard narrative resume into a visually appealing infographic, and pinning it with a link to your LinkedIn profile. Highlight your degrees by posting a link to your school or a news article announcing your graduation. Pin photos of events you participated in, links to awards you’ve won and anything else that highlights your accomplishments.
An educational board. Show off your knowledge and pride in your school. Pin a link to your graduate program, as well as the conferences, events or lectures that you attended that expanded your mind. Consider adding a board containing the career-related books that you read or infographics related to your career.
A goals board. What do you hope to accomplish in your life? If you want to earn a MSCRIM degree, pin images from the program you want to attend. If you want to reach a certain position, post the job description. Don’t be afraid to include goals that aren’t necessarily career-related, such as running a marathon, but that require some hard work and dedication. Employers want well-rounded individuals, so use your Pinterest boards as a means to share your interests as well as your career accomplishments.
A Few Warnings
As helpful as Pinterest can be in building a positive personal brand, it can also detract from it. If an employer visits your profile and sees nothing but posts containing profanity, controversial political or religious statements, or potentially offensive images, your application could be tossed in the trash before you’ve even had an interview.
To prevent creating a negative impression:
- Take advantage of Pinterest’s secret boards. If you want to pin images or links that could be possibly offensive, like that e-card peppered with profanity, pin it to a secret board that only you and the users you select can see.
- Check your links. While Pinterest does an admirable job keeping the site free of spam or potentially harmful links, sometimes things slip through the cracks. Before repinning any content, check the destination link to ensure it doesn’t actually lead to something harmful or offensive.
- Think before you pin. Ask yourself whether you would want to have a conversation about the pin in a job interview. If the answer is no, use a secret board or keep scrolling.
Pinterest may not be the most obvious choice for jobseekers looking to build a personal brand, but it can be a useful tool to augment your efforts in other areas. Take some time to develop a profile and presence on the site, and give potential employers greater insight into who you are and what makes you tick.