In today’s day and age, social media websites have become an integral part of the job search for both job seekers and employers. Job seekers use social media to identify job openings now more than ever before (it’s all about networking, after all) and companies, like it or not, have started using social media profiles to vet potential candidates for job openings. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder.com survey indicated that 37% of employers use social media profiles as a part of their screening process (http://goo.gl/mkSGu).
It might sound a bit disconcerting that companies actually sift through your “digital footprint” as a part of their evaluation process, especially if some of the content on your Facebook or Twitter profile is not particularly flattering. Instead of destroying your prospects of getting a job, though, you (the job seeker) can easily flip this to your advantage – but how?
Keep private interactions, well, private…
There are numerous “red flags” that companies look for when perusing your various social media profiles. Profanity, pictures of you having a little too much fun, and/or poor grammar are all examples. Check your privacy settings and make sure that these more “personal” items are not public. Or even better, don’t post these things at all! All they can do is hurt your prospects of getting and job, fair or unfair. There is nothing wrong with leaving some of your profile viewable to the public – just be smart about that content.
Present yourself in a professional manner
As you probably know, first impressions are absolutely critical. They are equally critical when companies take a look at your social media profiles. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, or any other site, make sure that your profile picture communicates an aura of professionalism. This is obviously somewhat subjective, but you can’t go wrong with warm smile and professional attire. Your social media profiles are a great opportunity to market yourself to potential employers, so take advantage! On a site like LinkedIn, where job seekers and employers are the priority, this is especially important. Ensure that your resume is easily viewable/accessible and that your grammar and spelling are top-notch.
Engage in discussion
While certainly not essential, engaging in a larger community discussion relating to your field of work can’t hurt. If anything, it shows that you are actively involved and interested in today’s topics of discussion in your industry. Plus, you might learn a thing or two from these online conversations. Twitter is a great place to find these discussions, which are often identified by hashtags. Sites like Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn also offer separate communities where people in the same industry can exchange ideas.
With the relatively recent emergence of social media, job seekers and employers alike are still trying to determine the best way to put these websites to use. For job seekers, the idea that potential employers can do a quick Google search and pull up a wealth of information in the form of Facebook/Twitter profiles is daunting – but it doesn’t have to be.
Just use good judgment when posting updates and pictures that are more personal, and try to create a positive, professional image with the information that is publicly viewable. The good news is that (for the most part) this information is all within your control.
Once you have established a professional image, go ahead and unleash the power of social media: network and engage. You will be glad you did.
- Cobey Culton, Digital Marketing Intern