An astounding 92% of employers will look at your social media pages before they consider hiring you! This means your hilarious cat meme, that drunken selfie or an ill-judged political rant might cost you your dream job. So now is probably a good time to give your social accounts a bit of a clean-up. Here’s how...
To use your social media profile to help secure a job, start by spring-cleaning your accounts. Do an audit, going through recent posts to make sure everything is professional, appropriate and well written. Take down anything that doesn’t cast you in a positive light, including retweets and shared Facebook posts.
From now on, aim for thoughtful, balanced posts. You can still chat and have fun – just remember 87% of potential employers are using Linkedin, 55% are using Facebook, and 47% are using Twitter to find employees. So, foul-mouthed rants, ill-informed opinions and reposting ‘fake news’ could put them off.
A positive profile full of witty banter, friendly exchanges and genuinely interesting shares tells the world you’re a reliable, sensible and employable person.
Currently there are no regulations to stop employers using what they find on social media to decide whether or not to employ you. Guidelines are expected to be introduced in 2018 which will force potential employers to make it clear in the initial job description whether they intend to do this.
If you want to get serious on social media, be consistent and professional, creating a personal image across your profiles.
Choose a snappy, easy to read ‘about me’ statement, using similar text on every account, and the same carefully styled profile picture. You may look cute raising a shot glass, or posing on the beach, but think about projecting your employability. A headshot works well (choose clothes, hairstyle and - if appropriate - make-up wisely). Avoid handheld selfies as they look amateurish; a good camera with a tripod and a self-timer is great if there’s no one available to take photos for you.
When you post on more than one social media account, there’s no point repeating yourself. Imagine you’re the editor of a media portfolio and match appropriate aspects of your personal image (it might help to write a list) to each platform. Facebook might be your personal, relaxed outlet where you share hobbies and connect with friends; Twitter could host your most insightful and engaging commentary; Instagram brings your images to life with sharp storytelling; and LinkedIn lists your skills and experience, and is the place you publish your portfolio and work-related thoughts. Getting the best out of multi-platforms, using each one to ‘sell’ different elements of your personal image, creates an amazing impression.
If you have a specific career in mind, your social media profile can showcase your commitment to that field. A blog could be the ideal outlet. Engaging posts showing off your expertise, knowledge and dedication will always impress a prospective employer.
Aim to write upbeat posts with lots of clear images. Being too formal can make a blog a bit boring, so let your personality come through in your posts. Well-composed photos, accuracy, close attention to detail and writing that flows well, is grammatically correct and typo-free makes a great first impression and an excellent case for your professionalism.
In today’s competitive market, where recruiters can get a measure of your authenticity with a quick search on social, you can’t simply pretend to have a hobby or interest. Imagine you go for an interview with a company that manufactures walking boots, and you tell them you’re a keen walker. But, when they check out your Instagram, they find countless images of you in bars with your friends, without a single hike or ramble in sight. The last thing you want is to be embarrassed by social media – or get caught out by it.
Honesty is the best policy and, if you’re casting the net wide and applying for random jobs, showing willingness to learn, and having a professional social media profile including a variety of interests and experiences, can still help you clinch the job.
Once your profile is looking snazzy, it’s time to connect with people who can help you find the job of your dreams. First stop: recruiters.
The vast majority of professional recruiters network on social media, so make sure you’re following agencies in your chosen field, particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn. As well as official agency accounts, follow individual recruiters who tend to share the kind of jobs you’re interested in. Huge job sites, including Indeed and Monster are active on Twitter, sharing tips and advice for job hunters, as well as courses and leads.
If you’re targeting specific companies, link with/follow their HR departments to get the latest news on jobs and training schemes.
If you follow key people at a company you’d like to work for (or have an interview with) you’ll find lots out about them. As well as providing conversation points for your interview (you’ll get a handle on their likes and dislikes, their passions and their politics), their profiles give you a sense of the personalities you’ll need to impress.
If you don’t have an interview lined up, but you have a shortlist of brands or companies you’d love to work for, start following the key people at those organisations, including HR professionals. By keeping track of them, you may catch sight of job opportunities before anyone else.
You could also respond to their tweets and posts to strike up a relationship: if you become social media buddies, they may even give you insider information regarding jobs and training schemes when they become available. As long as you’re genuine and building solid online relationships with people you like and have something in common with, there’s no reason why your social media connections can’t eventually become work colleagues.
Do your research
Once you’ve secured a job interview, social media provides an excellent opportunity for research. A company’s blog or active Facebook/Instagram account gives you access to bite-size information about a company’s campaigns, products and recruitment strategy.
If your interview is at short notice, even spending an hour or two on the firm’s social accounts can give you an edge in an interview. If you have more time to prepare, read as much as you possibly can. Looking at how the company’s social media has evolved will give you a great insight into its story and ethos.
As well as reading, your social media research could also include reaching out to the company’s employees, past and present. Try sending them a polite email or DM, asking if they have time to share any tips or information that might be helpful for your interview.
The automatic notification you get when someone visits your LinkedIn profile can be used to your advantage if you know the names of the people who are interviewing you. Follow these simple steps:
- The day before your interview, visit your interviewers’ LinkedIn profiles
- They will then be notified that someone has visited their LinkedIn profile
- They check to see who it is and see your name and your profile photo
- When they meet you the next day, they’ll recognise you!
This trick will not only familiarise you with interviewers but also demonstrate that you are the kind of person who plans ahead and does their research. That little detail could be all it takes for you to stand out from the other candidates being interviewed and secure the job!
You can still be professional while being honest and being yourself: get the balance right to create a positive, employable presence online.
Don’t be afraid to say you’re looking for work. Reach out to others in the same boat, sharing tips, advice and support, and use social media to let friends and family know you’re in the midst of a job hunt: if people don’t know, they can’t help you.
If ‘being yourself’ sometimes means sharing bad jokes, ranting and posting pictures you regret the morning after, consider separate social media accounts. Use your real name for the professional accounts and a pseudonym for your sillier shares.
If you enjoyed this article feel free to share, like and retweet when it lands you your dream job.