The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media: What Your Employers Look for When Hiring
13 December 2016
Bursting into relevance over the last decade, there is not yet a rulebook when it comes to social media use. The use of the platforms themselves has changed markedly over the last ten years; those photos that we so flippantly put up in 2007, when Facebook was still very much a novelty, would probably never see the light of day now.
The use of social media is in such a constant state of flux. Therefore, putting together a set of hard and fast rules about how you should use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn when looking for work will always be fraught with danger. But, by taking cues from recruitment agencies, we can get an idea of some of the basic dos and don’ts as stipulated by these professional hirers.
So, what should and should not you be doing on social media if you would like to come across as the perfect prospective employee?
The first cab off the rank is LinkedIn, which sells itself as the world’s largest professional network. This is no false bravado either—according to Career Glider, a massive 79% of recruiters use LinkedIn to hire. Additionally, 90% of those users trawl through profiles, searching for, screening and contacting prospects along the way. Essentially this means that by creating a well-rounded LinkedIn profile, you will be applying for jobs without even knowing it.
Invest time in your LinkedIn profile, including as much relevant information as possible. Be active on the site, trading endorsements for endorsements. If you have an inactive profile with just a few connections, it will become clear to recruiters that it was created out of obligation—a placeholder that allows you to say “yeah, I’m on LinkedIn”. Engagement on LinkedIn shows motivation, enthusiasm and work ethic to potential employers.
Those aforementioned snaps from 2007 that are lurking in the depths of your Facebook timeline may be hilarious when they come up on your feed as a memory. But they could spell trouble for your professional ambitions. Therefore, if you are serious about landing your dream job, it is best to untag yourself from less savoury posts. While you may think photos from 10 years ago would be hard to find, a google image search of your name may prove otherwise.
Twitter is the most conversational of social platforms, and as such it is often used by recruiters to get a good sense of how a person operates. Use Twitter to put forward the best version of you. Make yourself eminently searchable, by talking with industry influencers and by using industry-specific hashtags. Heck, you could even talk directly to the recruiters or employers themselves.
In keeping with the ‘best version of yourself’ philosophy, Twitter use for job seekers is as much about the don’ts as it is about the dos. Do not get into frivolous fights with keyboard warriors. Do not post ironic or sarcastic messages that could be misconstrued. According to Jobvite’s social recruiting survey, 93% of hiring managers will review a candidate’s social profiles before offering a job. So, make sure they do not get the wrong impression.
According to the same survey, amongst the worst things you can make reference to on your social profiles are illegal drugs (83% of recruiters class this as a negative), sexual activity (70%), the use of profanity (63%), guns (51%) and alcohol (44%). Interestingly, bad grammar is the third biggest creator of negative perceptions, with 66% of recruiters saying it was a turn-off. So be sure to spellcheck before you post.
Ideally, if you have got somewhat of a chequered history when it comes to social media, you do not want to leave your profile public for all to see. Now is the time to set your privacy preferences to Fort Knox. Allow snooping recruiters to just see the most basic of information. Another alternative can be to go by a pseudonym (although names can be tricky to change on platforms like Facebook).
Many people use platforms like Twitter to vent about their current work situation. But it is incredibly important that you do not. If a prospective employer sees that you are using your social accounts to knock your current or previous employers, they will not see things from your side—they will see things from the point of view of your employer. That will result in an instant strike through your name.
In the end, social media use for job seekers is fairly basic. You want to treat it as somewhat of a cocktail party; dress well, shake hands confidently, and put the best version of yourself forward.
While the 2007 version of you is lurking in there somewhere, there is no need for them to show their face just yet.
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