Social media can boost women’s careers
‘Escap[ing] traditional barriers to advancement’
The number of people connected on social media has grown to roughly 2.2 billion worldwide. In the U.S., 78% of Americans have at least one social media profile. Needless to say, a significant portion of the population uses it on a regular basis.
Because of this, each one of us now has the power to build our own public platform and have a greater impact than ever before.
For women, this new reality provides the opportunity to bypass traditional power structures that have often held women back from reaching the upper levels of leadership. Men still largely dominate positions of power in traditional business settings. Only 8% of top earners and 15% of C-suite executives in the U.S. are women.
The online landscape offers a perfect space for women to make progress and escape traditional barriers to advancement. It can provide women with the opportunity to break through established hierarchical career paths and get noticed for their talents.
To understand how this works, let’s take a look at how and why companies hire the people they do.
We’ll start with the how. Most employers will attempt to find talent through two main avenues –job postings and referrals.
Job postings may give all people, including women, an equal opportunity to apply for a position. However, simply applying to a posting has its problems and rarely leads to an offer. In fact, only 12% of hires are made through job boards. Many job ads receive huge responses – on average, 250 resumes per posting – mostly submitted by completely unqualified people. Competing for attention is hard when there is a giant stack of resumes of subpar or mediocre professionals, especially when you consider that the typical recruiter spends an average of six seconds reviewing a resume.
That is not much time to get your story across.
The other most common way employers hire is through networking and referrals. Referrals make up 22% of all hires, but there is a gender bias with this method. Men are typically more often hired through referrals. While 46% of men find their jobs through networking, only 39% of women do.
Women need to work their network better, and we will review how social media can help you do that. Before we do that, we must also understand why companies hire particular candidates.
It isn’t always the case that companies hire the most skilled and credentialed candidate. Instead, it is all about one thing – “fit.” When I say fit, I am referring not only to the employer’s focus on the candidate’s skills, experience and credentials. More important, fit is about the candidate’s emotional intelligence and personality. Companies want a professional who will mesh with their culture, won’t embarrass or offend others, and will get along with and contribute to the team.
My point is that employers want the whole package. Communicating how you are that is difficult to do during the average recruitment process. Because of this, most companies are more likely to hire a candidate that comes from an employee, vendor or client referral who can vouch for the candidate. Without a person to attest to your appropriateness for a position, you must demonstrate that the wants and needs of the employer match what you can bring to the table.
Unfortunately, the recruitment process doesn’t allow much time for that.
A much more powerful way to communicate the match is to have, over time, built a public personal brand. Your personal brand should illustrate your skills, abilities and passions, and prove your value. Women, in particular, can benefit from such personal branding, as it helps grow visibility and a network of contacts and supporters. In today’s business world, there is no better way to build your brand than through social media.
By engaging with and publicly supporting others on social media, especially other female business connections, you can call attention to the accomplishments of other women in business. This has several positive side-effects, including increased credibility for yourself and others; reduced friction with other women; and more visibility among your industry professionals and companies.
Such support for others establishes goodwill and stronger relationships that will almost certainly reap benefits down the road. Because of this, online personal branding through social media can be a “female frontier” that more women should join.
Kathleen Laney, President and Executive Search Consultant at Laney Solutions, is a Contributing Writer for Parking Today. Contact her at email@example.com.