By Kyle Do
Using social media as a professional tool? Sounds crazy, right?! Well in today’s day and age, social media sites, such as Instagram, might just land you that dream job one day. Likewise, the app could also do the complete opposite and steer future employers 100 miles per hour in the opposite direction of hiring you. In the end, their decision on whether or not you are deemed responsible enough for the job relies on you and the image your social media portrays. Maybe those drunk photos of yourself face-first on the sidewalk after a night of partying might not seem like a good look after all. Who knows? I guess it depends on the job you’re applying for.
In this blog, I will explain the do’s and don’ts of the beloved social media app Instagram as well as how to portray yourself in the best possible light as a talented and professional individual, ready to join the workforce. Here’s how to utilize Instagram as a professional portfolio.
What is Using Instagram as a Portfolio and Why Does it Matter?
Obviously future employers are not going to hire you solely on your social media presence. Other factors are taken into consideration such as your application, resume, personal references, etc. However, this blog explains how you can utilize Instagram as a professional tool. Instagram is a fantastic way to advertise, market and influence your audience.
Why is Instagram important? Well for one, the app has over 1 billion active users, thus allowing you to publish your creative work and share your thoughts and values with the world. With such a wide range of individuals and businesses that your portfolio could be exposed to, finding like-minded accounts and inspiration is as easy as a click or two. Second, according to oberlo.com, 71% of the 1 billion Instagram users are under age 35 (2019). With that being said, it’s evident that Instagram has taken over the younger generation by far. With more college graduates joining the tech and advertising scene, we’re seeing a growth in all types of social media usage. Another reason is that Instagram allows employers to get a better sense of who you are as an individual. Rather than just the awards, past jobs, or skills that your resume lists, Instagram is a visual app that allows employers to see your creative side. Finally, a professional and unique Instagram portfolio demonstrates that you are adequate with social media apps and that you know how to professionally manage and brand yourself.
How to Utilize Instagram as Your Portfolio
If You Don’t Want to Use Your Personal Account, Create a Public One
Often, employers implement background checks such as personal work history, credit history, criminal record, drug screenings, and even social media use. The one we will be focusing on today is the social media use. It is crucial that you create a separate account from your personal Instagram account so that employers don’t stumble onto something they wish they didn’t see. Likewise, make sure your personal account is private, otherwise that defeats the purpose.
Creating Your Username
Most of the time I would say stray away from numbers and symbols as it can look tacky and unprofessional, depending on what your profession is. For example, an efficient photographer username could be @nolansmithphotography. Simple enough, yet it’s not too complex where employers or future colleagues might forget your name. Furthermore, the username @nolansmith77photography doesn’t look as crisp and clean cut as @nolansmithphotography. It is also important to note that your username should be relevant to what you do. An aspiring dancer wouldn’t have their Instagram username as @bennycooks, right?
Your Instagram Bio is Your Cover Letter
First and foremost, you want to have your name in the bio. This allows for employers and users alike to put a name to the face. Second, you will want to include a link to your personal website or LinkedIn page. This will direct people to another source to learn more about you. Third, write a little bit about yourself and tell your overall story. Sharing how you came to be and what viewers can expect to see when stumbling upon your Instagram account is a great way to make quick connections. Finally, you might also want to include the location where you are currently based. This gives employers a quick and easy idea of where you are at the moment.
Follow the Right People
Much like LinkedIn, Instagram followers are your connections, so to speak. You may not necessarily know them, but expanding your connections (followers) allows you to widen your horizon and ultimately exposes your great work to thousands of people. Following people that have the same niche, profession, or interests as you allows for inspiration and growth as well. You never know when you might learn a thing or two!
Choosing the Right Content
When starting on this Instagram journey, it is absolutely necessary to make sure you are sharing the right content that exhibits what you and your work consists of. For example, if you are a young artist trying to get your name out there you would want to publish your best work. Publishing your best work allows you to be confident in yourself and also allows for feedback from fellow followers. As time progresses and you build up your “social media resume,” more and more people should take notice and employers will be impressed with what you have to offer. Posts of past and present artwork, creative food recipes, produced music, cinematography, are all great niches that can be uploaded via Instagram. An aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed is one of the best things to look at, especially when all the posts clearly have a set tone or vision.
Engage with Your Followers
Never be afraid to reply back to comments on your post or even comment back on others’. It shows that you value what they have to say and also gives them recognition. When employers see feedback and comments on your posts, it shows them that your work and talent is being recognized by others all over the world. Don’t be afraid to also reach out to strangers as they might have some tips and tricks regarding your profession.
That’s a Wrap!
Now that you know how to get started on building your professional Instagram portfolio, what are you waiting for? Get out there and showcase your talent for the world to see. With the ever-growing age of digitalization and social media, the world is your oyster. Future employers are bound to be impressed with your professional Instagram portfolio. All it takes is a few simple clicks, an upload here and there, and one day you might land that dream job you never thought you’d find.
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