March 24, 2017
It is a known fact that social media has become a big part of our lives. Some studies suggest that we spend up to five hours a day on social media! Because of this, there’s a very good chance some recruiters will look, or come across your social media presence in the application process. What could be on your feeds that could hurt your chances?
The way you present yourself online can affect your first impression on a potential employer. But there are ways social media could possibly help you and be a useful tool in your job hunt. We asked our experts what they look for on social media accounts when considering a candidate.
What to Avoid
Be aware that you are able to change your privacy settings on all your social accounts. It is perfectly acceptable and normal to have private Twitter and Instagram accounts. On Facebook you are able to change the intensity of your security settings so that people are only allowed to see your profile picture and your cover photo.
If you chose to keep some of your accounts public, be conscious of what you are posting, sharing, and saying in comments. It’s also wise to monitor what photos you are tagged in. You may want to change your account settings to require your approval before being tagged in a photo or on certain content. Your feed doesn’t need to be immaculate, but be mindful of what you’re posting and saying. Steve at Caterpillar Inc. explains more:
“If a recruiter or hiring manager does, on their own, check out your personal social media sites, they are typically scanning for anything that would speak to your character like inappropriate behavior or posting negative things about previous employers and co-workers. As long as your social media profile does not contradict the way you present yourself to a potential employer, you should have no worries.” 1
Updating your profile pictures is wise if you’re looking for a job. A good profile picture makes you identifiable because it will show up in searches, regardless of your privacy settings. That doesn’t mean it needs to be a professional headshot, but it should be a photo of you that is simple and clean.
What to Show
Your social media accounts don’t have to be squeaky clean, but you should follow these best practices to avoid giving off a negative impression. So, how can social media help make a positive impression?
Stephanie, a hiring expert at AT&T gives this insight: “I like to use the news test...would I be badly represented if this was the front page story on the news? If that would be bad for me, why is it splashed all over my social media identity? And vice versa, are the awesome things about me represented in my social spaces? My interests, volunteerism, community and uniqueness well represented?” 2
Many recruiters are looking to see if you’re a good person in general. This is where social media can get you bonus points. Perhaps your interests or activities are something that resonate with the recruiter. If you and the recruiter are both active in your community, you could likely share some connections as well.
Cory, at Cigna, added, “Recruiters are also looking for professionalism, community involvement, possible other activities that you participate in outside of the ones listed on your resume. For example, past jobs, clubs, sports, etc. On LinkedIn, they can see who you are connected to, endorsements, and recommendations which can help them learn more about you.” 3
The best social media network to promote yourself professionally is LinkedIn. You can highlight skills that you’ve obtained and reach out to those who can speak to your work ethic. Past co-workers, employers and even professors can write a recommendation for you.
Social media isn’t something that should be giving you anxiety during the job search. Just be smart about the content of your feeds, and make sure not to share anything inappropriate. Take advantage of it and use your accounts to showcase your personality, your interests, and past projects or activities.