Many employers are using social media sites to screen potential job candidates, and this can either help or hinder you in your quest for a job. A candidate might have a shining resume, but one quick glance at the candidate’s Facebook page or Twitter feed might cause the employer to push that application to the bottom of the pile.
In order to ensure your social media sites are not keeping you from landing your next job, consider the following tips:
Convey a Professional Image
Employers are searching your social media profiles and pictures to make sure you would be a good fit for their program. They use these searches as a way to ascertain your personality and behavior outside of the interview. Any inappropriate or provocative pictures or posts could be an immediate red flag to the employer.
Be sure to never bad mouth a previous employer – even if you are not planning on using that employer for a recommendation. This practice is highly frowned upon and might cost you an interview or even the job. No employer or program wants to know that you might turn around and speak poorly about them once you have left.
Highlight Success and Knowledge of the Field
Use social media sites as an expansion of your portfolio. You can highlight knowledge and communication skills through your posts and comments on articles about a subject in your field – just be sure to check for any typos and make sure that your information is accurate and up-to-date.
Share posts and contribute to feeds on social networks (not just LinkedIn) and major blogs as way to let others – and your prospective employer – know that you have your finger on the pulse of your field. Even starting you’re own blog is a great way to express your knowledge. These activities will appear in Google searches that potential employers might do as part of the hiring process and will further showcase your talent and expertise.
Speaking of Google searches, do one on yourself. You need to know what potential employers will see when they search the internet for you. When you do this, be sure to log out of your personal social media sites, or Google will personalize your search results based on your recent activities. You might even want to clear your internet history or, even better, use a public computer. You want to make sure you are getting the same standard search results as your prospective employer. If you have a popular name, make yourself stand out more in the search results by adding either a middle initial or middle name to your social media profiles and resume.
Monitor Your Accounts
If you are actively completing all of the above, you don’t want an inappropriate post or picture that a friend tagged you in to soil your online image. Be sure you are paying attention to what others are posting on your profile or tagging you in. While your profile’s privacy settings might be set at the highest standard, your friend’s profile might not be, and that might result in some less-than-stellar search results under your name. Be sure to remove or ask your friend to remove any content that has the potential to be viewed as unprofessional by an employer.
With the good comes the bad, and social media is by no means an exception to this rule. Your social media profiles and activity can be what sets you apart from your competition or be your death knell. By keeping these four tips in mind, you just might find yourself at the top of the “yes” pile the next time you apply for a job.
Erin Schwind is the United States Sports Academy’s Coordinator of Alumni Affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.