Social media offers tangible ways of boosting your engineering career, whether you are looking for your first role or you’ve been in the industry for years.

Role of social media in engineering.

These networks provide a real opportunity to find and begin interacting with the sorts of people who can offer you ways of advancing in your career as well as helping to raising your profile within the engineering industry.

It becomes possible to start conversations with people from around the world, which then leads to the potential for expanding your opportunities you might not have considered previously.

Your social media profile.

LinkedIn is the biggest social networking site dedicated to professionals and improving your work prospects, and can be considered one of the most important networks to use for expanding your career.

When you initially set up a LinkedIn profile, you need to put a significant amount of time into ensuring it will look attractive to potential employers and colleagues. You should use it as chance to market yourself. It gives you the opportunity to show off about your qualifications and achievements, showcasing yourself as the best candidate for the engineering roles you’re looking for.

While engineering is a traditional field, it sits on the cusp of technological evolution. It is important to portray yourself as a professional in the now. A proper headshot for your profile will lead you to be taken seriously, rather than a selfie taken on your smartphone at a party. Make the investment to have your photo taken by a real photographer, and update it regularly. First impressions do count and you want to be taken seriously.

Because employers are increasingly searching your name before inviting you for an interview, it is essential that your online presence portrays you as you want to be seen for the career path you are on..

Melanie Pinola, author of LinkedIn In 30 Minutes: How to create a rock-solid LinkedIn profile and build connections that matter, explains: “How do you want the world to see you professionally? What kinds of work do you enjoy doing? Why are you on LinkedIn? Those are the questions you should think about when creating your LinkedIn profile, so it’s aligned with your personal brand.”

There are plenty of relevant groups on LinkedIn where recruiters gather to find qualified candidates. It will pay to get yourself noticed in these groups so make sure you’re staying active. Find quality information worth sharing and post links to it, ideally with your own comments and thoughts on the matter. Ask relevant questions that others haven’t yet asked. If you notice something about a new device, bring it up.

The engineering industry’s key influencers and leaders can also be found on LinkedIn. Look to popular authors, engineering firm owners, association presidents and professors at world-renowned universities (Harvard, Oxford and McGill, for example) for the kinds of people you should be following. Doing so offers endless learning and self-development opportunities.

The social side

Although it may be seen as a network focused on social elements, there are also ways to find other engineers and opportunities on Twitter. Major engineering associations, companies and networks tend to have Twitter accounts, where they share important developments, industry trends, upcoming networking events and job vacancies.

As with many sectors, if something is happening in the engineering industry, Twitter is often the first place you’ll hear about it. Publications and companies often post information on employment trends, the latest developments in specific sectors and upcoming events where you could meet valuable contacts in the industry.

Trending topics are a good way of getting your ideas noticed. Engineers can use recurring trends like #MondayMotivation to discuss their favorite parts of their jobs, for example. If a new vehicle or aircraft has been launched, it is likely that it will appear on the trending topic list, giving you the opportunity to get your thoughts out there.

One of the most important aspects of social media networking is to keep your profiles updated. Make sure you’re accessing your Twitter account at least every couple of days, while you could post an update to your LinkedIn status every week.

Look into engineering forums, where people are talking about your field and potential job opportunities. In much the same way as LinkedIn groups, it’s important to remember that you should be showing your knowledge to these people by using forums.

It is advisable to comment on different threads reinforce your presence on the forums. Be wary of only interacting with the people who you think might help your career since it may give the impression that that’s all you’re concerned with. You should rather view it as a chance to speak to other engineers about the field you love. It is also a fantastic way of demonstrating your passion and interest for the industry by discussing industry news and opinion with others.

Blogging for engineers.

Some might be surprised to find that blogging can present a great opportunity for engineers. Engineers are typically viewed as technical and scientific, characteristics that may not be top of the list for writers, but there are certainly advantages to writing about your industry.

First, you can position yourself as an industry expert, where you share important information about what’s going on in engineering. For example, if a new product has been developed, explain how it is going to benefit society. You can also delve into explaining high-tech concepts to a lay audience, which will reflect your understanding and communication abilities.

Furthermore, you will likely be seen as dedicated and enthusiastic about your chosen field as you will be writing about your industry in your spare time. This will let recruiters and potential employers know that you would be an asset to their company.

When naming your blog, you should try to include your own name in order to increase the  awareness of your personal brand through quick search.

If you can successfully manage your engineering blog, you could be raising your chances of getting invited to certain events, where you could boost your profile within your industry. This will serve to gear up your career.

As with social media updates, regular blogging is advizable. Neil Patel, co-founder of analytics site Crazy Egg, has confirmed this, saying that “if you want to continually grow your blog, you need to learn to blog on a consistent basis”.

You should also be promoting your blog entries on your work-related accounts, particularly LinkedIn, where you could post links in relevant groups that you belong to.

Online publications.

Engineering-focused publications offer you a way of keeping up to date with the latest industry news - who’s being hired, which companies are expanding, and advancements in technology that you might need to be aware of.

Different countries will have their own top publications. For example, EngineeringUK is one of the top British resources, while covers North America.

These publications can provide you with the inspiration to discuss your own thoughts about new developments in engineering using your blog or social media accounts. It is also a good idea to link to these pages through LinkedIn, where other relevant people will benefit from seeing them.

What it comes down to is ensuring that you have the right online presence for your professional profile. If you want to portray yourself as exactly the candidate that the best firms are looking for, then keep your profiles professional and your updates on-message.

There are privacy settings that can be used to ensure that potential employers don’t see things meant only for family and friends. Keep your public persona professional and knowledgable and you will be using social media in the right way.

Randstad has been the official partner of the Williams Martini Racing Team since 2006. The expertise, spirit of excellence and trust on which we base our relationships with clients and candidates are illustrated within the Williams Martini Racing team every day.

What is driving your engineering career?