This week, we turn to a social media platform you may not have considered in your job search: Instagram.

The photo and video sharing tool may not be everyone’s first thought when trying to harness social media for their graduate job hunt, but trust us – there’s method to our madness! Here are our top pieces of advice on how to use Instagram to help you build your career.

1. Identify yourself

Instagram is most useful as a tool for building and cultivating your personal brand. As such, you should consider carefully what you post on your account. You may want to set up a separate professional account with a collection of approved and APPropriate* images that you would be okay with an employer seeing.

Take advantage of Instagram and create an identity focused on what you want to do. Make your username distinctive and memorable: @VivsFashionDesigns, @Brunel_Builds_Bridges, or @StevieHawking_ThePhysicsGuy. Make use of your Bio to show other users and potential employers what you do and who you are—150 characters isn’t much, but by being succinct and clear you can convey a surprising amount of relevant information.

You may also want to consider signing up under your real name. You don’t have to use the account actively, but laying claim to your name by setting up an account under @yourname will keep anyone else from using it.

And while it might not be considered “traditional” to include your Instagram feed on your CV, that’s the way graduate recruitment is heading – so don’t be afraid to be ahead of the curve.

2. It's all about the network

Follow the kinds of companies you'd like to work for. Find individuals who have the kind of job you want. Comment on their feeds, like their photos, build a network. Being active in the online community will help you stay ahead of the curve.

You can learn a lot about a company by what they post to their social media accounts, and you never know when that knowledge might come in handy—particularly if you are approaching an interview with a specific organisation. The most important thing to take way from your Insta-network is an understanding of how companies and successful individuals use Instagram as a tool for branding—which leads us nicely into our next pointer.

3. Show your skills <3

There’s a lot of content out there in the world of Instagram. To make your account stand out, you need to give people a reason to pause. Find a way to catch their eye, and then keep them interested. Whatever it is that you do, Instagram can help you show it off.

Take Daniel O’Donnell for example (no, not that one) – his account showcases his life as a journalist and coffee connoisseur. The illustrators behind HiremeTiger use their Instagram feed to demonstrate excellent design skills in a fun and eye-catching way. Even intern Mary Joyce documents her experiences through her well-curated feed.

The key is to be consistent with your visual aesthetic and the tone of your posts. Look at how the celebrities of Instagram do it, and make the most of all the free photo editing apps out there to create your own visually distinctive look.

Don’t be shy to tag people or companies in your posts, either! The point is to get noticed. And along with tagging comes…

4. The #Hashtag

Hashtags offer a means of grouping posts or tweets together in way which creates a conversation. They can be especially useful in building your personal brand because they allow you to create a narrative around your image and you as an Instagrammer.

Using well-known hashtags gives you the chance to join an existing conversation and get yourself heard, while creating your own hashtag can go a long way to building consistency in your feed.

For example, say Nicole is looking for a job in Sales. She may want to post pictures of herself being socially active and hashtag them #NicoleMakesFriends in order to give a picture of her people skills. Or say she wants to work in Merchandising or Fashion, she might use #WhatNicoleWoreToday or #NicoleBoughtThis. Or if Nicole wants to build up her image as a Designer, maybe she would use #DesignerLife or #DesignGoals. The idea is to create a story around your skills that is more engaging than what gets listed on your CV.

5. Tools

There are a couple of tools that can help you make the most of your Instagram feed to really seal the deal with employers.

Recite.com – Recite This is a tool used to create Instagrammable images out of text. It can help you show employers what you’re looking for and what you have to offer in a way that’s still visually engaging.

Hastagify.me – Use this great tool to learn more about the hashtags floating around your industry and stay on top of developments and trends.

Iconosquare – Iconosquare is an analytics tool that lets you track the successes of your Instagram posts and learn ways to improve and optimise for the future.

Hopefully you are now beginning to understand the scope and scale of what Instagram can offer your graduate job hunt. It’s not just pictures of baking and BBQs, but can be a strong addition to your personal brand and give employers something to get excited about.

Image credit: Tamisclao / Shutterstock.com