This week’s tip is one of the “secret sauces” of job hunting – every job seeker has the ingredients but many won’t cook up a batch (to your advantage).
Specifically, we’re talking about things potential employers and co-workers see you do and/or say in non-interview settings that make them trust or believe in you. Hopefully, what they see, read and hear will speak volumes about your competence and love for the profession.
Last week we talked about websites, but the technology we speak of this week is even easier to jump into and start using, some of you may already be doing it and not even realize it.
1. Social Media (your own site and others)
There are several platforms you can use to build professional credibility using social media. The trick is to figure out which ones to use. Consider two criteria when deciding this.
First, choose a platform you enjoy or are interested in. Like exercise and other things, you won’t keep it up for very long if it’s boring, too hard, or too much of a burden on your time.
Second, figure out where your audience is – the potential employers and peers you hope to impress. In most cases that would be local professionals, but don’t completely discount those on a regional or national level. You are in this career for a long time, people move around, and professional colleagues are connected all over the country. So it’s not impossible that someone from Maine could learn about someone from California and eventually hire them. Or that someone from Arkansas could be so impressed with someone from Montana, that they offer them a job down the road.
So, get a social profile or two set up and use them. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, even Pinterest and Instagram are places you should share, comment and/or like on. If you like one of those platforms but like sharing non-dental stuff too that’s okay so long as it doesn’t undermine you as a dental professional – you’ll have to determine what posts may potentially harm your career so be mindful of that.
Rather than go into all the ways you can use all three, we’ll give you a few ideas within Facebook since it’s the largest and one of the best. Here are three ways you can build professional credibility within Facebook:
- On your timeline post dental articles and memes. If you don’t want to mix business with pleasure, then create a separate page for your hygiene self. A professional page (which is basically a business page) and your main profile page are fairly easy to toggle between in Facebook .
- Search for and join nearby group pages where other dental professionals are or might be – maybe your former college DH program has a page for alumni or maybe your professional associations have one. Maybe it’s a local businesses page, where lots of different kinds of professionals are a part of. Find them, join them and begin sharing, commenting, and liking posts so others can learn about YOU.
- See #2 above and do the same thing for local business-type pages. The difference between these and group pages has to do with what you as a follower can do. With group pages you are usually allowed to post things everyone can view, but with business-type pages you can only comment on posts the business makes. It’s still effective though for you to make comments and likes on those pages as it creates potential links between you and those you want/need to impress professionally.
Last week we shared with you how to build your own website using WordPress.com. One of the benefits of using WordPress is it has blog functionality built in to it, so it’s very easy to start sharing things there.
The strength of blogging is that you can offer up more complete thoughts. Social media tends to limit your ability to share bigger chunks of ideas and opinions you have. But with blogs the field is wide open. The disadvantage of blogs is your audience size is much smaller (at least to begin with). There are bloggers who gain millions of followers so you can build yours up, but it takes some time and some promotion on your part.
To begin with, simply promote it on your resume or postcards you send out – provide a link and encourage your fellow professionals to check it out.
Another way to help promote your blog is to “guest blog” on someone else’s blog. The idea here is to find a blog that has lots of followers and ask the writer if you can contribute a guest blog post. Often they will agree and it will expose you to a larger audience of professionals and even allow you to plug YOUR blog. Posts that get published are for sure the type of thing to include on your resume.
3. Trade Publications
There are numerous dental hygiene trade publications you may already be a subscriber to. Not only should you consume their information/articles you should participate in their comment section (assuming their publication is offered online). This too can offer you some big-time professional exposure.
And, similar to guest blog posting, you can also approach trade publication editors about writing a guest article or editorial. And, again, a great resume item to show your credibility.
A Final Note
I hope it goes without saying that your participation in these online platforms should be carefully thought through. It’s just as easy to destroy your credibility by becoming too controversial or confrontational with people. Keep your participation polite, respectful, and thoughtful. Don’t worry if it isn’t a new idea or if it’s nothing earth-shattering to the profession. The point is, they are YOUR thoughts and they help extend your professional credibility
And finally, make sure you leave what I call “bread crumbs”. Those are a trail back to you so that people can see who you are and learn more about you after they read your comments and thoughts. Upload your profile picture and name and include links where people can find you on other platforms.
Bonus Tip: Here are a few dental hygienists who do a nice job on their blogs that I thought you might want to see.