Three months out of college, having turned down various employment opportunities that weren’t quite right, I took the next big step to launch my career: I got serious about Instagram.
Goodbye were the days of random photos with friends and badly lit cups of joe. I was on a mission to showcase my creative vision and colorful dreams. I was looking to secure a job on the creative side of the advertising industry and my current portfolio just wasn’t cutting it. My new project, supported entirely by Instagram, and born from my obsession with cupcakes and sweet treats, launched shortly thereafter.
The lishylishy Etsy shop was a collection of whimsical art prints and home décor items, all hand painted in between online applications and phone interviews. I built a website, crafted copy, styled photography and came up with a social strategy. It was a way for me to be creative while adding a great case in my portfolio. And guess what: it worked.
My new portfolio pieces and some good old-fashioned networking led to an interview with my current agency. They were originally seeking an account executive, but upon seeing my Instagram and Etsy shop styling, I was offered a role as an Associate Creative Strategist. I now work on content and social media strategies, write commercial scripts, and handle wardrobe and prop styling for clients including Transitions Lenses, Dolby, and Coca-Cola.
I haven’t left Instagram or lishylishy behind. I am now advertising creative by day, creative entrepreneur and freelancer by night. In one year, I was able to grow my Instagram following from 200 to 2,000+. I’m working hard to make it happen, but loving the ability to have multiple creative outlets.
If you’re out there searching for more experience or trying to find a way to make things happen: you may already have all the tools you need right in front of you. Grab your smartphone and get to work, here are my top 5 tips for leveraging your Instagram in a job search:
1. Have a Strategy
Focus your content strategy to emphasize your personal brand. Think about subject matters that support your overall mission & values and find ways to express a personality. If you’re looking to get a career in fashion for example, content should exemplify and support that industry. Come up with the perfect elevator pitch that describes who you are and what you do and use that as your profile description
2. Take great pictures
This one may seem obvious – but the subject matter and messaging is worthless if there aren’t great visuals to draw people in. Consider lighting, composition, backgrounds, and think about your entire feed as a gallery instead of individual pictures. Look to top IG’ers for inspiration but try to make your feed your own.
3. Create a consistent look & feel
Once you’re taking great pictures, editing also becomes a vital component. Every IG’er should have a “secret sauce” method of editing tips and tricks they use on each photo to create a consistent look and feel throughout the feed. Maybe you love the light and airy look, or maybe dark and moody is your thing. Whatever it is, apps like VSCO, or even Instagram’s newer built-in editing apps can help to make it happen. Comments can also help to build consistency. Utilize your favorite phrases, and go-to emoji’s to further develop your brand identity.
4. Build a Community
Amazing content starts the conversation, but having a community to champion your content is a way to really grab the attention of hiring managers. Find like-minded users through popular hashtags or other accounts and start engaging. Like their photos and leave comments on their pages and you just may make some new friends (and followers!).
5. Share, Share, Share
Include your IG handle in email signatures to hiring managers, add it to your portfolio, bring an iPad to your interview, and prove that you have the skill set to do big things! Building a social presence is hard work and takes commitment, but hiring managers will love to see that you took the initiative to explore your creativity.