When you think about the role of social media in your job search, your first thought might focus on how your online actions can hinder your job search. However, did you know there are ways to use social media to effectively elevate your application in the eyes of a hiring manager or recruiter?
When job searching, your social media accounts can seem risky considering the potentially incriminating photos or posts you may have been tagged in over the years. However, the solution is not to become a virtual ghost without any traceable social media presence. That is not realistic—hiring managers and recruiters know you’re on social media, so it may actually be more alarming to them when no record of you is found online.
In my work at Atrium Staffing, I recommend that all of our job seekers perform an online reputation audit ASAP and then turn the tables to actually use these platforms to improve the process of searching for a job.
Why Conduct an Online Reputation Audit?
The online reputation audit is the first step to using social media to your advantage. Knowing the information that exists about you on the internet is critical during any job search. This audit gives you the opportunity to clean up your online presence before any hiring managers or recruiters can stumble across something that could hurt your chances of being hired.
Next, let’s take a closer look at how to perform an online reputation audit. Later, we’ll take it a few steps beyond the audit so you can effectively reap the benefits of the available social media platforms to showcase your talents, research organizations and network in your chosen industry.
Clean Up Your Act
The online reputation audit is definitely worth the 10 minutes it will take. Start where most hiring managers begin their searches: Google. Check search results to make sure all information about you (that you want people to find) is up-to-date. Next, deactivate old accounts…like your Myspace page that’s most likely been neglected since middle school. Checking the “images” tab can also ensure public pictures of you represent the kind of professional you want to be seen as in the workplace.
For those on Facebook—which, according to a report from Global Web Index, is approximately 88 percent of Millennials—check your privacy settings. A public profile is risky these days, especially when you’re in the market for a new job. Make use of the “View As” button to confirm your privacy. Be on the lookout for any controversial posts and those that could be taken out of context. Expand your online audit to any other social media accounts you have such as Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest and apply a good rule of thumb: if it’s questionable, delete it.
Now that your online reputation audit is complete, you’re ready to take a closer look at using social media to show hiring managers what you’re all about professionally.
Publicize Your Personality…Professionally
Hiring managers want to see that your personality will be a good fit with the organization. Through social media, you can showcase your communication style and prove you’re an articulate, intelligent and creative individual who is a strong contender for the organization. In addition, sharing articles on news specific to your industry, promoting any prior work samples, and posting about your industry-related interests and volunteer activities will stand out to your potential future boss. Nonprofits will appreciate seeing your volunteer activities because it shows the causes you are passionate about and can be a clear indication that your views will align with the organization’s overall mission.
Consider taking this idea one step further by developing a website to highlight your skills and personality. Look to Lindsay Blackwell for inspiration. While applying to a social media position at the University of Michigan, Lindsay created the website DearLisaRudgers.com and a social media campaign to show the hiring manager all that she could offer if selected for the position. Even though Lindsay didn’t get the job with the University of Michigan, her social media campaign garnered so much attention that she landed an even better job as a result.
Social media platforms can do more than help craft your professional image. They can also be a great resource for finding out more about the organizations you’re applying to. Many organizations build their online brands by posting about culture, providing their followers with internal updates, and sharing new job opportunities within the organization.
At Atrium Staffing, our recruiters are actively sharing new positions on networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Atrium, and many other organizations, use platforms like Instagram to create a window into the organization and highlight the team’s unique environment and personality. For example, we have team-building events ranging from a SWERVE Fitness workout to cooking lessons with Chop Happy. We have a lot of fun at these events as a team! They are a great way for us to make new connections with people from different departments and try something new at the same time. Posting about these events allows us to share our culture with our community.
This inside look into organizations is valuable to you because it gives you a better idea of the work environment you could be entering and the people with whom you would be working alongside. My advice to you is to expand your research of organizations to include a review of their posts on social media platforms. This will help you get the full picture and a feel for the kind of people working there and the organization’s values.
Follow, Tag, Message, and Repeat as Necessary
Other than monitoring your own social media, if you’re interested in working for a specific organization, be sure to monitor theirs! You will find the latest press, information about big internal moves, awards they’ve won… all great things to mention you’ve seen and are aligned with when you hopefully land a face-to-face meeting. Be on the lookout for key people within the organization and start following them or reaching out by tagging them in a post or sending a direct message. Social networks can provide you with direct access to influential members at your dream organization.
While social media can be risky in the professional world, especially according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Career Builder, which reported that nearly 52 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, it can also be a powerful tool in the job search when approached thoughtfully. Use your social media savvy to show hiring managers your personality in a professional way and seek out current job opportunities in the industry or specific organizations where you want to work.
About the Author: Allie Basilica is Atrium Staffing’s Social Media & Communications Manager and also the editor of Atrium’s job seeker focused blog, The Career Column. With more than five years of experience helping job seekers navigate the social media space, Allie is passionate about uncovering new ways for candidates to connect with potential employers and professional communities.