Social Media: Best Friend or Worst Enemy?
So as always, but even more so when you are in job search mode, social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on how it is used or abused!
I’ll go through a few a few tools/technologies and specific advice, however the over-arching theme here will be to ‘control your online brand’. In the employment market you are the product/solution and you are also the Marketing Manager for said product. You’re going to want to ensure that ‘product you’ has a high perceived market value and is widely known as effective, reliable and in line with a potential customers own values and culture. I would say most companies check out social media for their prospective hires and most forward thinking companies will conduct more rigorous checks of your ‘digital footprint’.
What do you find when you google yourself for example? Don’t tell me you haven’t tried this? (I don’t believe you). Furthermore, there are sites where you can review a consolidated summary of an individual online memberships and activities. If you are applying for a job as a school bus driver, they may not be impressed with your street-racing club credentials, and so on and so forth!
So what are some simple things that you can do to ensure that your online presence is working for you not against you?
Be consistent: It’s worth cross-checking that you have a good level of consistency across the main channels you use. I will focus on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook however you may want to consider snapchat, Pinterest or others. Although as I will go into further below, each channel has its own vibe and norms, you can still ensure that there is commonality or at least no contradictions. E.g same photo or photo theme/type, accurate current location and employer, up-to-date contact information, and ‘vetted’ interests showing a common theme etc.
As mentioned, each channel has its own nuances but here’s some bite-size advice for the big 3:
A professional networking site, keep thing’s professional to respect the medium. That said, the so called ‘LinkedIn Police’ shouting down people’s posts with “This isn’t Facebook” are taking things too seriously and unintentionally are quite funny! I suggest a business like photo ideally professionally taken and complimentary bespoke or standard background. Ensure employment history is up-to-date and accurate/complete for 5 or if applicable 10 years. Add a summary which bottom-lines your skills/experience and crucially differentiates you. Add relevant skills to your profile which can be searched on and you can be endorsed for. Ask for recommendations which can build credibility and act as an ‘up-front’ reference. Aim to get 500 connections (especially if you are in sales/marketing/recruitment etc.) as then your connections display as 500+ rather than a discrete number to 499; essentially this says that you are relatively well connected and actually use LinkedIn! Join groups of relevance to you professionally, which showcase your interests and increase your exposure to potential employers and specialist recruiters. Follow your target companies to keep abreast of their news and potentially career opportunities. Read articles on interest subjects from ‘Thought Leaders’ in the industry. Like and share items from these companies and bloggers to get yourself visibility and to be associated with them. Better still, promote yourself as an SME (Subject Matter Expert) by writing blogs, articles or commentary. Its better they find these than your speed-drinking awards when they search for you online! I’m at http://tinyurl.com/jgrqh8m
A communications site based around ‘tweets’ of 140 characters or less and deliberately mixes business with pleasure. The key is to engage, engage, engage! There’s nothing worse than looking up an interesting prospect on Twitter just to see the ‘no-photo egg’, 17 followers (mostly escorts) and last tweet in 2013! I suggest to use a decent photo, which doesn’t have to be formal but does have to be ‘acceptable’. Then write a decent bio within the word limit which encapsulates your talents, your interests and your vibe. Humour is good and allowing people a glimpse into your personal life increases interest and engagement with you as an individual vs a representative of your company. In fact with that in mind, many people state views are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of XXX employer to avoid getting in trouble! Again similar advice applies in terms of following target or related people/companies, like, share, comment and this will raise your visibility and if done properly your credibility. I’m at @MacstaffUK
The Social Network! This is the one that may well trip people up in terms of content. Most people likely consider this as for their own private/personal network, primarily of family and friends and as such post pictures and express opinions more freely than on other sites. However I’m sure everyone has noticed that it’s increasingly a sales site with everyone from your friend Rachel and her jewellery line to FTSE 100 companies peddling their wares to you! Anyway mini-rant over, the point being that FB is increasingly of company and commercial interest and don’t display anything on there that you wouldn’t want to A) Go viral B) Be on the front page of tomorrows newspaper or C) Be dug up by a current or future employer. So as a minimum, pursue a defensive strategy with FB - i.e it may not be your first tool to impress a prospective employer but make sure your profile/history doesn’t put them off. However, going forward, companies will be increasingly utilising FB for job postings and targeted approaches so you may also want to consider an ‘offensive’ strategy of showcasing your work as well as personal talents. Facebook live is the new thing where you show your thing for example, let me know how you get along! I’m at http://tinyurl.com/z29c8pt
I’ve touched on a few hopefully helpful pointers here, however to get a deeper dive you should look into some of the recognised experts in the social media field. I recommend @juliadoherty from @GreenUmbr3lla and @KatrinaMCollier of ‘The Searchologist’ fame!
So in summary, be conscious of your online brand when utilising social media, maybe do a ‘clean up’ by deleting anything you don’t want to put your name to, and be proactive in raising your profile and networking in order to increase the quantity and quality of your options when you are in job search or career advancement mode!
If I can be of service in respect to social media and/or on hiring and job search issues across the recruitment spectrum, myself and Macstaff will be happy to hear from you.
All the best