Only a handful of photos, definitely no video. By today’s standards, my college years were poorly documented.
Probably a good thing.
I started my career before smartphones and social media, and as I flip through the photo album of memories in my mind, I’m thankful I grew up when I did.
Today’s young professional, however, lives in a different world. So much of our personal life is now immortal online and – despite our best efforts – easily available to anyone who might peek—including potential employers.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use social media in a smart way, and to your advantage. In fact, a strong social presence and brand identity can be a powerful tool in your job search.
Yes, your social will be checked
We’d all like to think hiring managers are only reviewing those materials we’ve so carefully crafted and checked – a well-designed resume, reference letters, copies of certifications, work samples, etc. – and stop there. Not the case. In fact, Glassdoor reports that 80% of employers look at social media profiles in the candidate screening process, and a CareerBuilder survey reports 54% of employers have passed on candidates based on what they found on social media.
The top reasons candidates were eliminated? The survey includes these top offenses:
- Inappropriate photos or information (39%)
- Information about drinking or drugs (38%)
- Discriminatory comments about gender, race or religion (32%)
- Disparaging comments about a previous company (30%)
- Lies or misleading statements about qualifications (27%)
Beyond your credentials on LinkedIn, what are employers actually looking for on social media? Hallie Crawford explains to Glassdoor:
“It can help them get a more accurate idea about who you are outside of your resume—a more personal view into your life. A resume can tell them your qualifications, but your social media profile can help them determine your personality type and if you would be a good fit for company culture.”
So, before you get too far in your job search, take time for a little cleanup on all your social channels – including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and anywhere else – to make sure the person you see matches the person on your resume.
Share without over-sharing
The easiest solution, of course, is to go through any platform and change your privacy settings so only your friends and personal network can see your photos and posts. Definitely make sure your public content doesn’t contain any political comments or inflammatory messages. (And it might be time to get rid of those old party pics while you’re at it.)
But don’t go too far. It turns out that making yourself hard to find on social media is also a negative. CareerBuilder reports that a majority of employers don’t like candidates who ghost themselves online, as Melanie Curtin writes in Inc.:
“If you can’t be found online, you’re seen as shady. So it’s not about deleting unflattering profiles; it’s about cleaning up your feed.”
Finding a balance may seem tricky, but a well-maintained and professional social media presence – one that keeps your private life private while still revealing the appropriate amount – shows employers a little of your personality and creativity. Plus, demonstrating to a hiring manager or staffing firm that you’re also somewhat tech-savvy and can navigate the latest social channels is always a good thing.
Find recruiters where they already are
Social media has drastically changed the recruiting world in recent years, and employers and staffing agencies are increasingly logging in to find candidates who match the job they’re seeking to fill. Savvy recruiters also know that’s where they’ll find the Millennials and Gen Z digital natives who are on the market, and 90% of brands today are already using social media to attract and source candidates.
To use this to your advantage, make sure you prioritize your social media efforts to position yourself in front of the recruiters looking for you. While Facebook is the most popular social network for job seekers, LinkedIn is the channel of choice for recruiters, with 94% using it regularly to source. Yet, only 36% of candidates are active there.
This is a perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd with a well-designed and professional LinkedIn profile created specifically to get the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager. Make sure your profile photo is approachable and professional (no group shots); add a cover photo that’s relevant to the industry you’re seeking to join; and write a headline that incorporates keywords a recruiter in your field might use to find you. Finally, craft a concise summary that highlights your achievements or aspirations, while providing a subtle glimpse into your personality and what makes you tick. After all, 89% of recruiters report they’ve hired someone from a LinkedIn profile, so don’t underestimate the power of your page!
Get social, then get the job
Social media has become such an integral part of our lives, so it’s no surprise it’s playing a much larger role in the job search process. With a little attention and fine-tuning, you can use your social media presence as a powerful asset.
Employers are definitely looking, so give them something great to look at.
Adam Loewen is director of the Information Technology Team at Morgan Hunter, serving Kansas City-area employers to help them meet a range of hiring needs, from temporary staffing to direct-hire placements. Share your thoughts on Facebook, LinkedIn or on Twitter @MorganHunterCo.