More than half of organisations in the UK use social media to screen potential new employees, according to research undertaken by CareerBuilder.co.uk in January 2010. At that point, 53% of the companies surveyed said that they had already used social media to check out potential hires, with another 12% reported to be considering adopting the practice. A concern is that 43% of the same organisations questioned said information that they had uncovered online had caused them not to consider a candidate for a role.
It’s likely that social media will influence your job search, whether you actively pursue it or not. Here are our top tips to ensure that you use social media to your benefit in your quest for new employment.
Pick and choose
There’s a plethora of social networking sites and online forums on which you could have a presence and interact. From a time management and effort point-of-view, it’s probably best to pick a couple on which you’d like to boost your professional profile. Think about which sites recruiters, hiring managers and your peers from your industry use and target those as a priority. The sector and role in which you work will play a part, but in general sites like LinkedIn are more useful than Myspace in getting you noticed for a new role.
Complete your profile
If you’re aiming to catch the eye of hiring decision makers, less certainly isn’t more in this case. Present the full picture so that those viewing your profile are able to make informed decisions about your suitability. Include a full, succinct career history and mention any relevant awards and training. Make sure the profile pic that you choose is suitable in a professional context – think smart headshot, not sipping cocktails on the beach. Most importantly – make sure that the facts you state are true, information in such a public domain is easy to verify.
Stand out, online
The attention span online is traditionally fleeting, so make sure you catch the reader’s attention at first glance. Format your profile well using paragraphs, subheads and bullet points where possible. Repeat the job title/s you’re after frequently throughout your profile so that you stand a better chance of being ranked in search engine results. Where possible (and we know this can be tricky if you’re currently employed) make sure that it’s obvious that you’re open to new career opportunities.
Demonstrate your knowledge
If you write a blog related to happenings in your market, link this to your profile. Likewise, if your Twitter account will add value, connect it there too. Note, your potential new employer is interested that you keep up-to-date with industry trends, not what you ate for breakfast. If there is the opportunity to get involved in forum debates, do so, bearing in mind that once you say it, it’s out there so think carefully about the viewpoint you’re sharing.
Network, network, network
As is said, getting a job is often about who you know, and if you connect with key players in your industry you’re likely to be closer to your ideal role. Networking isn’t a new phenomenon, but the ability to connect with people online does make the process easier to manage. Do be aware that it shouldn’t replace traditional face-to-face interactions though.
Networking is a mutually beneficial relationship so also think about what you can offer your connections.
Testimonials endorsing your achievements play a big part in painting you as a desirable candidate. But some endorsements hold more weight than others, a glowing reference from a satisfied customer can be perceived as more valuable than the recommendation of a peer you worked with on a project. Limit these testimonials to a select few, an excessive number of public endorsements looks like you’ve been courting favourable feedback rather than it being proactively given to you as a result of a job well done.
Be sure to browse online jobs and apply for roles as well as using social media.