Have you submitted dozens of applications, but not been contacted for an interview? Have you made it through the interview process and thought you had the position because things seemed to go so well, only to have your hopes dashed later? If you are a well-qualified candidate, and these scenarios seem familiar, it could be that your social media profiles are sabotaging your success.
According to research reported by Workopolis, recruiters are constantly on the lookout for ways to verify the credentials and experience of their candidates. They are also seeking ways to learn more about a specific applicant’s personality and whether or not they will “fit in” if they are hired. Your social media pages have the potential to provide corporate head-hunters with a treasure trove of both personal and professional information about you.
The problem with social media
Because we can’t see one another when we post online, it’s easy to forget that we are still in a public space when we are online. So, it’s tempting to just let it “all hang out” and be very relaxed and informal when posting.
It’s also easy for others to misinterpret the meaning of some of our online posts since they can’t see our body language or hear the tone of our voice. While it’s good to let your creativity, passion and uniqueness shine through, it’s also important to be careful that your posts make the right impression on those that perhaps don’t know you quite so well.
While there aren’t any true “absolutes” when it comes to managing your online presence, the following suggestions can help you to ensure that you are making a good impression on any potential hiring managers that might come across your profiles.
1. Don't lie or exaggerate!
Lying on any of your resumes or profiles is the absolute worst thing you can do, and your social media pages will normally “out” you for your dishonesty.
The Age reports that “In a survey of more than 2000 hiring managers, 58 percent said they caught applicants lying in order to embellish their skill-sets, dates of employment, academic degrees and job titles.” Human resource managers practice due diligence to ensure that you really did graduate from the university you list, and they will go out of their way to check references and take steps to ensure that the companies you list actually do exist.
Do update your actual resume as well as your LinkedIn profile and your work sections on Facebook to ensure that the information at all three locations matches. Don’t lie or exaggerate, but do use keywords in your titles and descriptions that show your specific contributions and talents and help you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t forget to connect with colleagues at your current and former workplaces and schools and ask them to submit recommendations for your LinkedIn profile. If you are self-employed, don’t forget to create social media profiles for your company and ask friends, associates and clients to review your business.
2. Don't be afraid to be yourself online; just do so within reason.
Don’t be afraid to post pictures of the people and places that are important to you on your social profiles. If you have hobbies or do volunteer work, be certain to highlight activities with photos (the pictorial evidence!). This could be the edge you need to get the call for an interview or actually get you hired!
It’s also a good idea to take a few moments to ensure that your profile doesn’t have any pictures that might give someone pause. While a snapshot of you enjoying a glass of wine at a special event might not raise an eyebrow, comments that suggest you get drunk frequently, or photos showing you actually passed out at a party, might be enough to cause a prospective employer to pass you over.
3. Use some discretion when you post comments on your profile or the profiles of others.
Avoid memes about controversial issues and political hot potatoes and don’t get drawn into combative arguments online.
While it feels great to express your opinion, and you might win the latest flame war with your buddies on your wall, it means little if a confrontational stance costs you a chance at a coveted new position or promotion. You want to make it easy for human resources to see you getting along as part of the team in their organisation. That’s a little difficult if your social media posts make it look as though you are augmentative and spoiling for a fight.
Knowing exactly what to include, and what to avoid, on your social media profiles can be a tricky business. If you need additional help, why not ask one of our Career Consultants about our LinkedIn Profile Tips and Professional Writing Services? We’ll be happy to help you put the spotlight on your credentials, skillset and unique talents so that you get that next position or promotion.
If you would like to know more about the author Anne-Marie Kane, click here.
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