Social media has become both a blessing and a curse when it comes to applying for a job. On one hand, it has made it infinitely easier to connect with people that you had no way of reaching previously. On the other hand, a mistake in social media can cost you the interview you wanted or even cause you to lose your job.
Social media has integrated itself into our everyday lives, and while this isn’t bad we need to be aware that what we put out there is visible to all.
Opening up the job market
Companies now have the ability to post jobs through their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ pages, and traditional recruitment websites. Never before have prospective employees had a greater chance of seeing a job posted, or even having a job shared with them through their social network. The process of applying has also become faster, with all the portals available that direct applications to an internal system. Gone are the days of searching the newspaper before calling or faxing your details in.
LinkedIn has become the go-to for both Companies and prospective job seekers. When you apply for a role, employers are able to look you up and see a number of details about you before a conversation even occurs. They can see if your work experience online matches your application, view your connections, review recommendations from previous Managers and colleagues, and even see which Groups you are a part of.
This street goes both ways; you also have the ability to find out details about a company before you interview with them. Not only can you look at the employees a prospective company has working for them, but your Managers’ previous experience is also open for you to view. This gives you precious information that you had no access to previously, unless you personally knew the Managers right-hand person.
If you applied to a job assume your social media profiles are being looked at
Now, more than ever before, we need to be conscious of how we represent ourselves online. We all do a little investigating before interviewing/being interviewed, or even before meeting someone for the first time. Even though most people won’t admit to doing it, you know it is happening. And the truth is, even when trying to suspend personal bias, what you see about that person online will immediately start shaping your impression of that person, whether positive or negative.
Employers have said that, in the past, they have passed on a candidate based on provocative or inappropriate photos and information posted on their profile. Bear in mind that there are diverse ways in which a profile could cause unease for a possible employer. A profile could display poor communication skills, evidence of illegal activity, discriminatory comments, lies about work experience, or even bad mouthing previous employees. And bear in mind that this is all subjective; different people will even have different reactions to your political stances/opinions.
If you are sharing content on social media, make sure it is working for you and not against you. Share content that paints you in a professional and positive light. Remove any content that can be viewed as unprofessional. And always remember that even if something is deleted, it still exists somewhere. We have all heard the stories of unsavoury social media postings coming to light years later and damaging that persons’ career in the process. We recommend taking any and all steps you can to prevent that from happening to you.
In addition to making sure that your content is employer-safe, you should also ensure that all your employment information is consistent. Does your experience on paper match all the experiences you post on social media? Be aware that dates and positions are checked more often than you realise. Make sure you are telling the same story everywhere. Do not lie. In this digital age, the chances of getting caught increase exponentially.
Your social media postings can secure your job too
It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to posting content on social media content. Your profile isn’t just being screened for the bad; people are also looking for the good.
Your content can give hiring managers an idea of your personality, what you are passionate about, how you interact with people in group discussions, and how previous colleagues feel about you through recommendations. All of these give you an advantage. It gives employers an opportunity to get a good idea who you are before meeting you: creating a good impression in advance is always an advantage.
You shouldn’t just focus on hiding things, but rather on building a great social media presence and strong social networks. Let these represent your skill sets and work experience. By participating, professionally, in group discussions and adding relevant information to these discussions you are creating an idea of how you would engage with future colleges. You never know who will see something you have posted, follow the discussion, and think “Maybe this person would be a good fit” for a role they are hiring for.
Do you need some privacy?
Leaving your social media open to all is not always the best idea. All social media sites come with privacy settings. Enable them to reflect the level of privacy you would like to have. By keeping your social content to a select group you are making sure that all past and future updates are only viewed by them. It also ensures that hiring managers aren’t privy to all your personal details.
There is no need to start worrying about employers looking through years of your blog posts, but realistically you need to remember that if it is out there, people can find it. Always err on the side of caution. This may seem like very practical advice but research has shown that not enough people are paying attention to this fact. You have worked very hard to get where you are, don’t let something like privacy settings hold you back.
The social media landscape is changing on a daily basis. Be mindful of your presence online at all times. Set yourself up for success with every post and comment you make online. If you are ever in doubt, take a moment before posting to ask yourself – would your Mom be ok with it.