TAO Self-help

Title:How social media can break your job search


Date:June 2013

Source:reprinted with permission HRNASTY.com

Social media deserves respect

Think about your potential reader before you tweet or post a rant or negative content on your social stream. You never know who is looking. Social media gives the world access to your life. You are living in the proverbial glass house, and if you keep a messy house, everyone has access. If you do not want the public to judge you then don't give them the opportunity. We all wonder if Lindsey Lohan understands how public her life really is because if she did realize how many people were watching, you would think that she would slow her roll.

I look at social media in a very similar way. Social media doesn't just give your social network insight to your life, but the entire internet-connected world is granted access to your life. My friend, your life isn't as private as you may think.

According to this CareerBuilder article last year, 37% of companies use Social Media to research job candidates.

Lets breakdown the listed statistics:

  • 37% of companies use Social Media to research job candidates

    I say the number is higher; much higher. In a technology company, I would venture that the number is closer to 90-plus %. I just blogged about a company that took the use of Social Media to the next level by asking for a candidates Facebook login during an interview. I am confident that just about every company out there is using LinkedIn.

  • 34% of hiring managers that use Social Media say they have found a reason to decline a candidate via Social Media

    Again, I would say the number is higher because I believe that most hiring managers just don't want to admit to these tactics. There is only a downside in this confession. In the least, what they may not have found may not have caused them to decline a candidate, but it didn't help your case toward a job offer.

  • 29% of hiring managers say they have FOUND something that caused them to hire a candidate

    I completely agree with this statement and I believe the number SHOULD be much higher. This is a huge opportunity for the candidate that is usually NOT being leveraged. Writing style, how someone presents themselves, opinions they voice or the help they to a forum are all actions that reinforce the idea of a greater potential employee.

Some other states mentioned in the survey:

  • Employers primarily use Facebook (65%), LinkedIn (63%) and Twitter (16%)
  • 15% of employers surveyed DO NOT allow Facebook in the workplace
  • Any recruiter of hiring manager worth their salt will check for personal blogs, comments on forums, a candidates name on a program of an industry related conference as a guest speaker. All of these are outside of the Big 3 in the social media sphere and SHOULD be leveraged

Regardless of what you think is happening, or what empirical data is suggesting, I want to leave you with three thoughts:

  1. The use of social media in the interview process is only going to become MORE prevalent in time as companies move into the future. Resistance really is futile.
  2. Even if a company doesn't allow employees to view social media sites at work, too many people have smart-phones that CAN access these sites from work and everyone has access at home.
  3. If there is even a chance your profile is being looked at, don't just clean it up, LEVERSAGE YOUR PROFILE and online presence to help you land the job.

Don't be afraid of Social Media. To most recruiters, Social Media is an eye-catcher and it will only become more prevalent in the workplace. Here are some ideas on how you can leverage the above stats to YOUR advantage:

If you don't have a profile, start one now. LinkedIn tells us who is checking you out and how many times you were checked out. If we know that our profiles are going to be checked, use this information to your advantage. Don't cower, don't hide. The best defense is a strong offense.

Ask a (conservative) friend to look at your profile and if they even HINT that something is in poor taste, remove it. The hiring manager may be just as conservative as your friend. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Even if the company doesn't allow social media in the workplace, I can still check your profile from my desk via my smart-phone. It is not a matter of if someone will check your profile; it is a matter of WHEN your profile will be checked. The bottom line is that you really should clean up your online social profile.

Other things to think about and leverage:

  • Blogs! Because so few people have them, they REALLY stand out. You can be a sub par writer, but the very fact that you have a blog that is consistently updated will go FARRRRRR. The topic doesn't even have to be related to the industry you are applying for but it won't hurt if it is. If you are a sub par writer, a blog will improve your writing.
  • Forums: Providing advice, opinions and help in general is always a good thing.
  • Rapportive: I have Rapportative installed, and with this app, I can see your social stream via my inbox.
  • Make sure your profile picture is current and ONLY portrays you. Pictures with two or more people in the profile suck because I cannot figure out which person is applying and which person is the frick'n BFF.
  • To leverage more facets of your personality, use a casual picture that shows some personality on Facebook and a professional picture suitable for a company website on LinkedIn. Mountain climbing on FB and corporate headshot'esque picture on LinkedIn.
  • The absence of a picture this day and age is interpreted as "must look like Quasimodo and the Hunchback of Notre Dame combined". There must be something to hide or be embarrassed about. If you are looking for a job, you ABSOLUTELY need a picture.
  • Type in the word "job search" or "interview tomorrow" and you will be amazed at the tweets that candidates post. Swearing, bitching, complaining. Companies want to hire employees that they can trust will represent them professionally with customers, at conferences, and online.

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