Reputation Management: Getting Social Media Pages Ready For Prospective Employers’ Eyes
When starting a job search, there’s some due diligence you need to conduct before sending out the first cover letter. Dusting off and updating your resume is one important task. Another is researching the companies you’d like to target. To really ensure your job search gets off on the right foot, you also need to review your social media pages to make sure they present you in the best possible light.
There is a growing trend for hiring managers to do more than call your past employers and references to see if you would be a good fit. As they sort through the flood of resumes received for a position, they want to find out as much as possible about each candidate --- habits, personality, attitude, integrity, etc. --- and will use the Internet as a tool to see what they can learn.
While your social media profiles may reveal things that employers can’t legally use as a basis for hiring, such as your ethnicity, age, marital status, religion and political views, you don’t want something you or someone else posted make you appear as a less-than-desirable job candidate. Examples include signs of drug or alcohol use, promiscuity, violence, or potentially illegal behavior. What you do want employers to see is that you are professional, mature and a positive contributor. You’ll want to show you are involved in relevant projects and pastimes, have productive passions and are a well-rounded person.
According to surveys, hiring managers will generally do an online search on your name but will also look for and review your LinkedIn profile and sometimes look at your Facebook and Twitter profiles as well. Remember also that many hiring managers use LinkedIn as a tool to locate candidates. With that in mind, the following are some tips for making sure your social media pages, and your online presence in general, are ready for prime time job hunting.
First, Do An Internet Search On Your Name
You want to find out what will come up when a hiring manager enters your name in a search engine. It may be just your LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media profiles, but if you were included in any news items in recent years (anything from a scholarship received to a student protest arrest), those could appear as well. If a negative item from your past shows up, you want to make sure you’re ready to provide an explanation, such as your “youthful indiscretions” or “crazy college days,” and demonstrate your now-changed ways as a mature and responsible professional.
Ditch The Silly, For-Friends-Eyes-Only Email Address
To be taken seriously as a professional, you need to be serious about the email address you use, both on social media and on your resume. That likely means getting rid of the cutesy email address you’ve been using since high school or college to communicate with your friends (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org). You should use an email address that has your first and last name or first initial and last name; for example, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ensure Your Profiles Match Up With Your Resume
Employers will want to see consistency when exploring your social media profiles, particularly your LinkedIn profile. Therefore, make sure the background information you have posted coincides with and validates what is on the resume you sent them.
Present a Professional Image
You can demonstrate your professionalism to employers by using a high-quality profile photo of yourself, preferably a headshot, wearing work-appropriate clothing and with few background distractions, such as people and pets. Like your resume, you also want to ensure the information on your social media profiles is free of typos and uses proper grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc.
Display Your Achievements and Successes Both In and Outside Work
If you mention any awards or recognitions on your resume, you should also mention them in your LinkedIn profile, including any photos, if possible. Also mention achievements outside of work, such as accumulating 1000 hours of volunteer work or your softball team winning the league title.
Demonstrate Your Skills
Your social media pages provide the perfect setting for showing prospective employers the skills you highlight in your resume and cover letter. You can show how well you write (via your profile summaries, background descriptions, etc.), how well you communicate (via your comments, responses and exchanges with others) and your level of creativity (via clever posts or displays of your artwork or graphic designs).
Show Your Personality and Style
While your job skills and experience are what qualify you for a job, your personality can be what seals the deal. With social media, you naturally insert your personality and style in your profile summary, status updates, posts and comments, giving a prospective employer an idea of how well you would fit in with their company.
Share Your Activities and Interests
You want to appear well-rounded, so make sure your social media profiles mention projects, activities and interests you are involved in outside your job, specifically volunteer work, mentoring, activism, etc. That said, you want to avoid mentioning any controversial or extreme interests. It’s important that employers see you as unique and not just like everyone else out there.
Show You Are Engaged and Have Relevant Interests
Be sure to like and follow the companies you have an interest in, and also join any relevant industry groups on the social media sites. Don’t be afraid to then take it a step further and comment on or share company posts or participate in discussions in the groups. If the employer sees you are engaged with them and in the industry, they will see your interest as real and your candidacy as more of a fit.
Collect References For Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn enables you to include “recommendations” in your profile, which prospective employers like to see on a candidate. Ask former employers, clients and co-workers if they would write a brief reference for you, providing them with suggestions on what they might mention.
Remove or Hide Undesirable Content
It’s important to look back over the history of all your social media postings and remove any status updates or comments that would be considered inappropriate, controversial or bad form. You should also remove or untag yourself from any photos you’ve posted over time that might raise eyebrows. If you have information or photos you want to leave up on your profiles but don’t want employers to see, you can use privacy settings to hide them.
Make Sure You Can Be Found
As mentioned, employers often use LinkedIn and Facebook to find candidates for their open positions, therefore you want to make sure your social media profiles are searchable. You can optimize your profiles for search by identifying and inserting the keywords that employers will use to look for someone like you.
It may seem like another big step to take toward getting your job search off the ground, but once you’ve readied your social media profiles for prospective employers’ eyes, you will be closer to positioning yourself as a highly desirable and ideal candidate for the job on your wish list.
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