It’s a Saturday evening in 2012 and you’ve just taken a picture of you and your friends, added a low-key Valencia filter, popped on a border and posted it to your Instagram feed. You don’t give much thought to how many likes you’ll get (can you imagine?) and you certainly don’t think about future bosses or clients scrolling through those pictures.
Fast forward to 2019 and gone are the days when we posted to our social platforms so freely. For some industries, Instagram has become a showcase of your best work and a way to highlight your skills. It’s pretty much your ‘best life’ – personal and professional – played out in pictures.
So, has Instagram become the new C.V.? Have we ditched the double-sided A4 page listing our employment history and GCSEs, for a more creative approach? We spoke to three professionals who have cleaved Instagram to their advantage in the name of career progression, to find out both if this is the way forward and, most importantly, how they do it.
Amplifying your business
London based artist Venetia Berry says Instagram has given art lovers an insight into the creative steps behind her work:
‘Instagram has allowed artists to show their process of creation. From my experience this encourages a vested interest in my work, as they may have been watching my progression over the last few years.
‘Some people buy directly from Instagram, but most of the time this just opens up the conversation, where I am able to show them more of what may be available, work on a commission based project, or have the buyer to the studio to see my work in the flesh. As wonderful as Instagram can be, it is no comparison to seeing work in real life.’
The social media platform, which currently has 1 billion active users every month, has also made the art world accessible to a bigger audience and Venetia thinks this is a great thing for wannabe artists, ‘I think there is no doubt that Instagram has been a brilliant tool for artists today. It has democratised the art world. Now anyone has the ability to show their work online, without having to pay anyone and without relying on the help of a gallery.’
The new portfolio
One industry that has dominated the insta-sphere in recent years is the world of beauty. From nail art, to make-up tutorials, Instagram’s format lends itself to showcasing beautiful, aspirational, yet achievable looks.
Manicurist Lauren Michelle Pires has profited from this Insta-curiosity. Michelle says a lot of clients often reference her work they’ve seen on her feed: ‘A lot of the time when I’m on set and we’re going through the creative brief for that shoot they reference specific IG posts of mine. Which is flattering and reassuring that I’m doing something right.’
Beauty has taken off so much on social platforms that Lauren’s Instagram has replaced the old school way of showing her work, ‘It’s become my main portfolio for clients. They almost don’t want to see the glossy portfolio anymore, but the instant feed of my work including behind the scenes video and a bit about the person behind the work too.’
A development for Lauren is that Instagram is now, not just her portfolio, but it has become a her new process for getting hired.
‘I get DMs from beauty editors or stylists requesting if I’m available to work with them. Word of mouth isn’t just IRL, it’s very much online now.’
Beauty brands are some of the most followed accounts on Instagram. MAC Cosmetics has nearly 23 million followers, making it the most followed beauty company. Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie Jenner’s company, launched in 2015 and has over 22 million followers, showing there’s clearly a huge market on Instagram to reach and connect with beauty lovers.
Make-up artist Bea Sweet agrees. With over 54,000 Instagram followers, Bea thinks Instagram has become the perfect platform for her industry, ‘People look for inspiration, look for inspirational people, mood boards, aesthetics, scout models and work with each other.’ Along with its many uses, Bea says Instagram’s accessibility is a big reason for it’s popularity in her industry, ‘It’s free, easy, accessible networking, that’s a huge benefit for anyone.’
The blurred line between professional and personal
Careers Expert at LinkedIn, Darain Faraz, says social media has humanised the recruitment process and there’s become an increasing cross over between personal and professional,
‘Your LinkedIn profile specifically acts as a living, breathing portfolio that really humanises the recruitment process for recruiters and hiring managers – making it easier for you to stand out from the crowd and bag that dream job.
‘Increasingly, we’re seeing people sharing updates about their professional lives in a more human way – anything from sharing their experiences of their first day at work, to the frustrations of unsuccessful job interviews.’
While there are obvious advantages to using personal social media platforms to further your career, there are still limitations and grey areas. Only this week, a Texas company shamed an interviewee for bikini pictures she shared to her Instagram page.
The organisation took to their own Instagram stories with a screenshot of her picture along the text, ‘PSA (because I know some of you applicants are looking at this): do not share your social media with a potential employer if this is the kind of content on it.’
This was met with outrage online, (because why shouldn’t a woman put up a swimsuit picture?!) but the incident isn’t a one off and shows the attitudes that some employers still have towards their potential employees’ personal profiles.
In recent years, as social media has become increasingly popular, there have been numerous incidents of people finding their jobs in question, after old tweets have been unearthed. Just ask Justin Trudeau how he feels about social media right now…
Whether or not you want to use your personal social media pages in your professional life, in 2019 there’s no escaping it.
So how do you make sure your instagram is being the best representation of yourself? Or how do you make your profile work to your advantage?
Our experts have some answers…
Top tips for making sure your Instagram grid shows off your best work:
- Venetia recommends staying true to your values, ‘Always stick to your guns – passion and genuine interest will shine through so much brighter than following a trend. Remember why you are doing it and don’t make work for an Instagram post – that should not be a reason for making work.’
- Lauren says make sure you always document your work, ‘If it’s a project or shoot you’re working on – don’t just rely on the final outcome. In my case, if I’m doing the nails on a shoot – I never know if all the nails will make it into shot, or just one tiny pinky! So I always take a quick behind the scene shot just incase.’
- ‘Show your own identity & your flaws are your biggest strengths,’ says Bea Sweet. ‘Use it to work with people who are likeminded, be respectful in other people’s DM’s especially if you’re looking to work with them and try to keep a level of professionality when reaching out for the first time.’
- Jodie believes attention to detail is key, ‘Double and triple check for errors in everything you share – spelling and grammar mistakes can put potential employers or clients off you immediately! Even if it’s just on Instagram.’
This article first appeared on ELLE UK.