Life as a military spouse is rewarding and challenging. Unemployment and underemployment are faced by many. Applying online for a job and waiting to be contacted doesn’t work. I used social media to establish my personal brand, bypass job applications, get noticed and hired twice.
I have a Chemistry degree. I worked for several years in Research & Development.
In 2011, I left my position and the only place I ever knew to be home, Philadelphia, PA. I moved to Orlando, FL to follow my heart. My wife, girlfriend at that time, was in Florida. I dropped everything and took a chance on love. Looking back, I’d do it all over again.
Mikala and I were best friends growing up. As teenagers, we would be on the phone until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. My father would pick up the phone and say, “Sam!?, do you know what time it is? Say goodbye to your friend and get off the phone!” I’d say goodnight, hang up, wait 10 minutes, and call her right back. This process happened too many times to count.
A few years after graduating high school, Mikala joined the United States Air Force. We lost contact until her crafty brother told me she was asking about me. She hadn’t said one word about me. To this day, we blame her brother for our successful loving marriage.
On May 8, 2011, we reconnected. It was like old times. We spent several hours on the phone that night. On the next day, I called her early in the morning on my way to work. I expressed I didn’t want to waste any more time. We lost 10 years and I was determined to not allow this opportunity to slip through my fingers. I wanted to start dating. She said yes! When Mikala shares this part, she says she was thinking, “Sure! We can date. I’m not doing anything right now.” She didn’t take it seriously! At the time, she was in Florida and I was in Pennsylvania. Little did she know, I was a man on a mission. One year to the day that we started dating, we got married on May 9, 2012.
Several months after we started dating, I moved to Florida. The economy was tough. After struggling for 3 years, we took a chance on Mikala getting into Workforce Opportunity Services’ (WOS) program designed to get veterans careers in the corporate world. We moved to New Jersey for this program.
In the beginning of 2015, I attended a job fair for veterans and military spouses. I met a regional manager of Orkin Pest Control. We exchanged information and connected on LinkedIn. At the time, I was working as a telemarketer. Some would say this role didn’t use the full potential of my degree. However, I decided to turn those “lemons” into lemonade. On April 2, 2015, I wrote an article on LinkedIn, “Why You Should Value Your Job As A Telemarketer.”
No more than 12 hours after publishing, the regional manager I met at the job fair several months prior, sent me a message on LinkedIn. He said a role became available and invited me in for an interview.
I got the job. If he and I weren’t connected on LinkedIn, he wouldn’t have gotten the notification about my article and may not have thought about me for the role.
After nearly a year of working as a contractor in the WOS program, Mikala was offered a full-time role! We had to move from New Jersey to Texas. When we arrived, I applied for a role at Main Street Hub.
I didn’t rely solely on the job application. I used LinkedIn to make connections with employees holding the same role for which I applied, managers, and the Co-CEOs/Founders of the company. I had ongoing Twitter conversations with my future manager about his favorite college football team and love for his family. I created a Twitter list with current employees, managers, and the company account.
I watched what was shared to learn more about the company culture and current projects. I shared the company’s content and gave thoughtful replies. The above activities put me on their radar. Several weeks after submitting my application, their recruiter reached out to me for an interview. I became their first-ever hire from Twitter. They featured my story in the company’s blog.
As a military spouse, veteran, student, professional, you can use various social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to stand out when applying for jobs. Social media will allow you to build your personal brand, frame your story how you’d like to be perceived and connect with people who can get you an “in” within companies. As you interact on social media, it’s important to approach networking by seeking to provide value rather than only asking for things.
When companies are hiring, they aren’t only looking for candidates to meet the technical qualifications of the role. Social media provides you a platform for companies to get to know you.
Whenever sharing content on social media, ask a few questions before posting:
1. “If a potential employer saw this, would it skew their view of me?”
2. “Does this enhance the message I’m relaying with my personal brand?”
3. “Is this a political, religious or controversial topic?”
Sharing what you want people to see on social media, you control the narrative and determine how people see you.
About the author
Sam P Lark, Jr is a military spouse, speaker, and social media relationship strategist. He’s passionate about helping others achieve their goals. As he networks, his question is, “how can I help your vision come to fruition?” Networking to help others first, has earned him a place of high esteem among his colleagues. Utilizing his technical & public speaking background, Sam shares innovative ways of using social media to enhance one’s personal brand. To connect with him, click here.
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