Recruiters are looking at your social media profiles to make hiring decisions. Use these tips to get their attention — in the right way.
Social media has become a part of our everyday routine, and our professional lives are no exception. From highlighting your accomplishments to fostering a direct connection with hiring managers, your social profiles may prove to be just the tool you need to excel in today’s highly competitive job market.
But just like any tool, the true benefit of social media depends on how well you use it. To leverage these outlets for the benefit of your career, you need to set them up in a way that best presents your achievements, knowledge, skills and abilities.
Plus, your future employer will likely look at your social media profiles as part of their decision to hire you — or not hire you. A 2014 survey conducted by Jobvite.com found that 93 percent of job recruiters look at candidates’ social profiles when making a hiring decision. The same survey states that 42 percent of those recruiters have reconsidered their decision after viewing the content of a candidate’s social media profiles.
Here are a few tips on how to best use social media to portray yourself as the most hireable, qualified candidate for a job.
1. Shift your focus
Use your social media accounts to share more than snippets from your personal life. If you’ve been posting photos of every meal you’ve eaten or have shared every detail of your latest shopping spree, it’s time to stop.
Instead, start posting content that would interest future clients or employers. Examples may include posting photos of your participation in local charity events, tweeting about a project that you’re working on or sharing a few key points from a professional development course you recently took.
Even before you enter the job market, it’s a good idea to start sharing career-focused content. (Click here to tweet this advice.)
2. Turn your social networking profiles into a virtual portfolio
Once you’ve shifted your focus from personal posts to professional sharing, organize your profiles to highlight your best work. Many of the social networks offer great ways to present examples of previous projects.
For example, LinkedIn is perfect for writers who would like to share excerpts with followers and potential employers. This same feature provides a great platform for you to share content that demonstrates your expertise in any given area.
If you work in a creative field such as photography or web design, consider using Pinterest as a way of showcasing snapshots of your prior work.
3. Connect with the right people and organizations
Whether online or in-person, your networking strategy should start with reaching out to the people you already know. Once you’ve connected with all of your existing professional acquaintances through all possible channels, you can then begin to expand your range of influence.
Start following organizations that you’d like to work at. Reach out to key players in the company, and begin building a relationship with them. It’s also a great idea to connect with recruiting firm representatives.
Regardless of who you’re connecting with, always make it personal. Add a nice note to your invitation to connect, and explain why you’re interested in building a relationship with them. A few words can go such a long way, especially where social media is concerned.
4. Join relevant conversations
By joining discussion forums or other virtual gathering places, you give yourself the opportunity to interact with other professionals in your industry. Try participating in LinkedIn groups that are specific to your line of work. When you join one of these forums, become an active contributor. Ask questions, and answer those posted by other group participants. Avoid sharing irrelevant content, and never overdo it.
5. Monitor and control your personal reputation
Negative content on social media can have a profound impact on every aspect of your life, especially in your future career. Avoid associating yourself with users who post potentially offensive content. Absolutely never allow them to share distasteful comments or imagery on your own pages. If any of your friends have posted something about you that may be misinterpreted, politely ask them to remove it.
Take a proactive approach to the control of your personal web presence. While protecting yourself from negative online content, you should also be working towards creating a positive image of yourself.
Ask your classmates or colleagues to share flattering content, such as photos from a recent presentation, study group or class project. Many of the social networks also support reviews and endorsements, so if you know you have a happy client, ask them to share their experience online.
The workforce and modern recruiting practices are changing drastically, and it’s up to job seekers to adapt accordingly. Social media is a major part of that process. Use social media in constructive ways that will contribute to your future career success, rather than creating unnecessary professional obstacles.
Marissa Kasarov studied Marketing and Management at City Colleges of Chicago and Project Management at Northwestern University. She is a staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.