We don’t know about you, but we have a lot of friends who owe their newfound professional photography careers to Instagram. These days, however, it’s not just photographers who get hired based on their “work” on social media: Recruiters in various fields now troll Instagram in search of candidates who haven’t so much as submitted a resume (and if you have submitted your resume, you’d better believe a quick Instagram search is first on the to-do list for your potential employer in advance of your interview). This puts a lot of pressure on what was once meant to be a tool for simple socializing: Your feed is now likely to be a calling card for business—whether you like it or not—so it’s important to treat it as such. Here, 5 tips for leveraging Instagram as your new resume.
Landing a dream job these days can be less about your credentials (ahem, random undergrad degree) and more about who you are as a person—or rather, who you’re perceived to be. Tailor your Instagram content to the field or position you endeavor to enter or obtain. If you’re looking to work in PR, for example, your shots should feature social activity involving people, places and things that affirm your "in-the-know" status. If you’re a comedy writer, funny captions are probably a priority. It can be helpful to weed out content that doesn’t make sense for whatever image you’re trying to present by starting a second, private account just for friends and family.
Follow people in your field, just so long as it’s not creepy. We don’t advise requesting the private account belonging to the person for whom you most want to work, for example, but you should follow public accounts belonging to professionals you admire in your chosen field, and like or comment on their posts when appropriate and authentic. Also, when you meet people in real life who you’d like to notice and remember you for potential career opportunities, give them your Instagram handle in addition to your email address. Add it to your email signature as well.
Know Your Audience
You can have great content, but it might not matter as much if it’s not getting enough interaction. To increase yours, pay attention to what your followers are posting and liking to inspire your own posts, and be sure to engage with their content, too. Post often enough so as to not be forgotten, but not so often that you fatigue your followers (once a day is good). Also, solicit new followers in person if you think they’ll actively engage with you on Instagram.
Pepper In Your Past Work
If you’re a model, slip the occasional #tbt modeling photo into your feed. If you’re an executive in the movie business, add in a creative photo of all the premiere passes for films you’ve worked on. If you’re a musician, post the occasional live performance video. These posts shouldn’t make up the bulk of your feed—unless, of course, you’re a photographer—but they should be a common thread throughout. Use your feed to promote current projects or to present ideas for new projects as well.
There are always going to be several candidates suited for any one position. Often, the hiring decision comes down to whether or not the candidate is a good cultural fit, which just means that your boss and colleagues want to hang out with you. Make sure your feed feels approachable (for your particular audience), is well-rounded and has a (curated) authenticity. It’s important to be yourself because ultimately, if someone doesn’t want to follow you, they probably don’t want to work with you on a daily basis, either—and you’re likely to feel the same way about them.