We’ve all seen the nightmare stories and the newspaper headlines about people who’ve been fired for posting something questionable on social media.
Take for example the journalist Toby Young, who resigned from his new role at the Office of Students last year after critics picked up on comments he’d made on Twitter.
With more and more employers using the internet to give them background information on candidates, this is something job-seekers need to be aware of.
However, it’s not all bad news. If you’re wondering whether to delete all your accounts now, don’t! Read on to find out how you can build a positive presence on the web and how your social media profile can boost your job search.
Do I want to appear on social media?
The short answer is yes! If you don’t have an online presence, this can affect the way recruiters view you. It may lead to assumptions that you’re not social media savvy, you don’t care about your specialism, or even that you’re covering something up. In fact, 57 per cent of employers are less likely to see a candidate they can’t find on the internet.
As a job hunter, social media is a great tool to use – ignore it and you’re missing out. This is a great way to build your personal brand, connect with the people and companies you’re interested in, and reply to adverts quickly.
How to make a good first impression
It’s great to show your personality through your profiles, but some things are a definite turn-off for businesses. Put yourself in their shoes – what would they think about you based on your profile? Make sure you appear professional, for most roles it’s probably best to tone down politics and personal bias. It goes without saying that messages with swearing or dodgy photos need to be removed.
Use your accounts to show how you communicate with others and whether you’re a good fit for the company and its ethos. Employees are a big part of a company’s brand, if you appear friendly, enthusiastic and competent online you’ll be more hireable. Don’t be afraid to interact with recruiters, whether it’s to comment on a post you like or to ask more about a job advert. This will make you more memorable when it comes to the interview process.
Showcase your knowledge and connections
If you’re looking for a job, why not use social media to create some positive PR for yourself and show how you’re engaging within the field you’re applying for? For example, try sharing some articles and videos online. These could be something you’ve created, or you could share others’ posts and say why you like them.
Finish your profiles and update them regularly. If you’re on LinkedIn, you should optimise your profile to make it searchable: choose a good profile picture, customise your URL and think about the headline under your photo – this should include any key words recruiters may type in order to find you.
Use LinkedIn to build your professional network, reaching out to your connections for information and advice, as well as references and recommendations. You can also join groups related to your industry and contribute to conversations – all of which will make you more visible to those with the power to hire.
Are you an influencer?
Over the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of celebrity personalities who’ve shown it’s possible to build your career on social media by developing a following around your passions and interests. We know that Zoella, one of the first YouTube stars, earns around £50,000 a month from her videos, beauty tips, books and products.
You may not want to be the next internet star, but it can’t hurt to think about this while you continue with your job search. For some, becoming a desirable online brand has led to Employers getting in touch with opportunities. It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth thinking outside the box -do you have something unique to offer and is this a different way of getting your foot in the door?
What can I do to clean up online?
An easy way to start is to Google your name and see what comes up – sometimes it’s surprising how much information can be seen.
Check your privacy settings – be aware of what you’re sharing and who can see this – and decide which accounts you’d like to keep private. For instance, you may like to keep your Facebook profile private and make Twitter public.
Don’t forget posts that you’ve been tagged in by family and friends. These will be available to a wider number of people, so if there’s something you don’t like you should remove the tag – it doesn’t matter how old the photo is.
Once you’ve decided which accounts should be public, proofread them checking for spelling mistakes or obvious errors. It’s important that everything matches your paper CV as recruiters may fact check these and you need to get your story straight.
About the author
Kate Allen is the MD of Allen Associates, one of Oxfordshire’s leading independent recruitment agencies, that specialises in Marketing, Finance, PA/Admin and HR roles. In the summer of 2018, Allen Associates launched their first London office, specialising in Marketing, HR and PA/Admin roles.