Before we begin, take a look at your social media platforms. All of them. As best you can, view your profiles through the eyes of the recruiting professionals searching for the next occupant of your dream job. What do you see? What picture is painted by your personal info, posts, likes and photos? Would you hire you?
Social media image from Shutterstock
The game has changed
Chances are you’ve heard a story about an employee being fired in the wake of a lewd or otherwise offensive Facebook post. If that doesn’t tip you off, consider this a warning. When reviewing your job applications, recruiters are more than likely looking at your social media profiles to find out more about you.
In recent years, HR managers have discovered that an individual’s behaviour on social media platforms provides deeper insight into their character than a polished resume ever will. It’s an easy and effective method of eliminating applicants whose online footprint is not in line with the values of the organisation. Additionally, certain content on social media profiles can support (or undermine) claims made in job applications and interviews.
A recent study by CareerBuilder found that over 40% of recruiting managers who currently use social media to screen applicants had made rejections based on candidates’ social profiles.
Before you lament the erosion of privacy in the modern world, consider the benefits of this development. Social media offers numerous avenues through which you can actively improve your employability. The same CareerBuilder study referenced above found that 20% of recruiting managers had actually hired candidates based on information found on social media. The virtues cited were professional image, communication skills and creativity.
Some tips to get on the front foot with your social profiles
1. Screen: make use of privacy settings that require your permission before photos and other posts appear on your wall. That photo of you drinking straight from a box of Fruity Lexia doesn’t exactly scream professional. Equally, you don’t want to make a poor impression just because a friend hijacked your account and so graciously aired all your dirty laundry.
2. Share: include information about current and past employment across all profiles, not just LinkedIn. This ensures consistency and communicates pride in your occupation. And add your hobbies, these can give employers an indication of how neatly you might fit within the organisational culture.
3. Connect: follow (Twitter and LinkedIn) and Like (Facebook) companies in your field. It’s a great way to keep abreast of news and connect with other professionals. Show initiative and arrange catch-ups with these connections. Expand your network and new prospects will become available to you. As Chinese Philosopher Sun Tzu once said, ‘Opportunities multiply as they are seized.’
4. Engage: build social capital by sharing interesting content and answering other users’ questions. The goal is to become known as source of information. This will go a long way to establishing your expertise and bolstering your value to employers.
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