Social media is great, because anyone you know can know what you’re up to at any time. But, social media also can be a problem, because anyone you know can know what you’re up to at any time. That includes prospective employers, and although many hiring professionals are hesitant to use what they find out about job candidates through social media as a factor in the hiring process, a lot of them are looking anyway. More than 60 percent of employers are checking candidates’ social media profiles during the hiring process. Although you might think embarrassing personal details are the biggest concern, it turns out employers are just as keen to look for reasons to hire you through your social media.
It doesn’t matter that it only lives on the Internet — your social media presence is just as indicative of your personality and professionalism as how you present yourself in the workplace. Employers want to know that the people they hire will be good representatives for them online as well as in the real world. No employer wants to wake up one morning and find out his or her own social media has been inundated by people upset over an offensive remark made by an employee online. What you say online matters to employers, and unless you exercise care and thoughtfulness when interacting with others through social media, you might find yourself losing out on opportunities.
The following are some tips to help ensure your social media profiles are employer-ready:
The most obvious social media platform employers will be looking at is LinkedIn, and young professionals can help themselves by ensuring their profiles are professional and display strong character, competence and creativity. Your work history should be up to date and accurate — do not exaggerate or embellish anything, and certainly don’t plagiarize anything from others’ profiles. Your work history also should be free of unexplained gaps and include mention of any relevant awards or honors you have received as well as strong recommendations. Of course, it should go without saying that you should be sure your profile contains no spelling or grammatical errors, and that you should use a professional-looking headshot for your profile picture.
When it comes to interacting on LinkedIn, be sure to join industry-specific groups and follow companies in which you’re interested working. Share links to relevant and informative business articles, and make sure to link your profile to your online portfolio, if you have one.
Although many hiring professionals understand that Facebook is primarily a personal site and don’t put as much stock into what they find there as they would LinkedIn, that doesn’t mean anything goes. You still should be mindful of what you post on Facebook and ensure that it reflects well on you. Make sure you don’t use it to rant and complain about things, but instead your profile should showcase your wide range of interests and talents. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, including spelling or grammatical mistakes. What’s more, although your professional information won’t be as robust as it is on your LinkedIn page, make sure your Facebook profile includes as much information about your education and professional experience as possible.
The shoot-from-the-hip nature of Twitter makes it the most casual social media platform — and the one most fraught with danger for a job candidate. Employers will look at your Twitter feed for insight into your personality, so avoid getting into petty Internet arguments and take the high road in your interactions with others. Be sure to tweet thoughtfully about relevant business topics and follow other respected accounts in your industry. As always, be careful about your spelling and grammar, even with the 140-character limit. Make sure your avatar and bio are professional and appropriate.
Cindy Madden is Communications Manager at Stevenson University Online. She emphasizes the importance of working adults successfully completing their bachelor’s or earning their master’s degrees to advance their careers.
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