How Social Media Can Make (or Break) You When Job Searching
Probably, your parents or another family member has told you in the past how important it is to make a good first impression. Now think about all the times you were introduced to someone who left you with an unfavorable impression — even though you (like the rest of us) were taught not to “judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately, though many of us really try to avoid making assumptions about the character, lifestyle, hygiene (or even perhaps) moral values of others, WE STILL DO IT! And once we make that all important first impression on someone, it can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo.
Because of the internet, first impressions with employers are happening earlier and earlier in the interview process. Complicating matters even more, the average job interview may now take on an assortment of shapes and forms. For example, your first interview with a company could be with:
- The Owner or CEO
- A panel of managers departments across the company
- A phone or online interview
- The receptionist / front desk
- None of the above
Anything can happen during the interview process. But though you can’t control what questions an interviewer may ask, you can control how you respond to them. Make a great first impression by showing (and telling) them what the best possible version of “you” looks and sounds like.
Often, we forget we can be displayed and screened 24/7 — without our consent or knowledge by potential employers. Our private lives can be exposed and put under the magnifying glass, stopping potential interviews before they even begin. How does this happen? If you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media platforms, you may be unwittingly exposing your private life to the scrutiny of potential employers each and every day.
To put that statement into context, let’s look at some pretty interesting statistics from the Recruiting platform Jobvite’s 2014 Annual Social Recruiting Survey:
- Data shows that 93% of hiring managers will review a candidates social profile before making a hiring decision
- Of that 93%, 55% have reconsidered a candidate based on what they find, with most of the double takes being negative
- 83% of recruiters say that making references to illegal drugs on social media profiles is a huge turn off
- 70% of recruiters say that sexually suggestive photos or posts can count against you
- Over 66% of recruiters told Jobvite that posts that include profanity reflected poorly on the candidate
- Over 50% of recruiters didn’t like posts of guns
- 44% of recruiters say posts about alcohol are concerning
- 66% of hiring managers said they would hold poor spelling and grammar against candidates. (Please take the time to go over any potential spelling or grammatical errors on your profile)
These statistics should be taken as a wake-up call, telling many of us that we may need to changes to portions our online profiles. Don’t wait until that great job passes you by because of something HR saw online. Reevaluate (and if necessary readjust) your social media accounts today.
Now that you’ve removed all outdated or potentially embarrassing items on your social media profiles, let’s discuss what steps you can take to use social media to strengthen and promote your job search more effectively.
First, I want you to imagine that you’re the Number One Person you most admire professionally. Choose a person who is at the top of their game. Someone you respect who works in your profession or in an industry you aspire to work in.
If you like tech, this could be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. If you’re interested in business, this could be Warren Buffet. Or it can even be on a local level — say if you work in nursing this could be a popular and well known nurse with lots of experience and influence.
Now, while still imagining yourself to be this person, think about how many people you influence and how. Then consider how the following actions would affect your image.
- Posting pictures of yourself with illegal drugs and paraphernalia
- Uploading profiles of yourself with numerous misspellings and grammatical errors
- Posting sexually suggestive pictures
Would the above kinds of actions taint your image, eroding the respect you’ve worked so hard to gain? Probably. Now, think of ways you can improve your now shattered image and rebuild your reputation. You can start by pretending you’re your own publicist; you want to make sure that your social media image is in alignment with how you want people to think of you in your professional life.
Try to think of 5 positive words you want other people to say about you professionally. Words like agreeable, outgoing, cordial, team leader, trustworthy and selfless. Find ways to verbally or visually reflect these words on your social media profile.
- Selfless, Benevolent, Charitable – Show photos or write blogs of you doing community service
- Team Leader – Display pictures of yourself with family and friends
- Outgoing, Pro-New Experiences – Post pictures of you while engaging in outdoor activities
- Inspirational – Write posts that are inspiring and have a positive message (try using a famous quote or news article)
The bottom line is that everything — and I mean everything — counts! So you want your internet presence to speak volumes about who you are as a person. MAKE A PERSONAL STATEMENT. Let the world know how phenomenal and invaluable you are and how with you as a team member they can expect positive results.
Remember, if the content you create on social media isn’t helping you, then it’s hurting you. Be courageous and strategic about your online presence and benefits will follow shortly thereafter.
By Rey LaChaux