Social Media: The Double-Edged Sword When Job Hunting

Social SwordsAs you’ve probably heard, recruiters and hiring managers are using social media more and more as sourcing tools.  LinkedIn was the source for almost 1/5 of the candidates our Resourcing team placed in 2012, and an assisting factor in most of the others.  TekStream’s staffing focus includes more than just Oracle WebCenter and other Content Management Solutions; we staff for a variety of Digital and Interactive Marketing agencies, and you can bet that any candidate sent their way will be expected to have, at the very least, a LinkedIn profile.  Many people do this, but just signing up for LinkedIn is not enough. You need content on your page.  This is your opportunity to showcase your experience, your skills, and a little of your personality.  Here are a few must-haves:

1)      A title.  The main title that displays just underneath your name should adequately reflect where you are right now in your career, and what your focus is.

2)      A custom URL. You can change the URL of your LinkedIn page to something easier than the mess they give you by default.  For example, http://www.linkedin.com/in/megantindale.

3)      A Summary.  This is your chance to sum up the experience you’ll be filling in below, who you are, and where you want to go in life/work. If you’re going for a Copywriter position, and you haven’t written yourself summary,that can reflect poorly on your skills.

4)      Experience.  You need to have at least the past five years of work experience listed.  If you worked with certain tools, programs, languages, etc.. —Make sure you include them so that you are searchable on those terms.

5)      Connections.  You don’t need to have umpteen billion connections, but at least 20+ would be good.  Start by connecting with co-workers past and present.  You can also build more connection-relationships by joining some Groups that pertain to your interests.  If you’re a Community Manager or Social Media Strategist, or even a Recruiter, the expectation for the number of connections is higher, but quality is also a factor.

6)      Good Spelling/Word Usage.  Please, please, PLEASE check everything for typos.  There are browser plugins you can install that will spell-check your page, but improper word usage can trip you up as well.

If you are going for the Social Media and Digital/Interactive Marketing roles, it behooves you to have a good LinkedIn profile—even if you aren’t, you should still have one—and showcase the skills in your profile’s presentation.

The Other Side

Not having a social media footprint can really hurt your chances in the job market; however, there can also be issues from having the wrong kind of footprint that’s out there and easy to find.  One of the biggest headlines in the business world in 2012 was the debate on whether or not it is legal for an employer to request the username and password of an employee’s Facebook page.  While frowned upon, it is technically legal for them to request that.  Unfortunately, there’s a bigger problem out there for job seekers making a big splash in Social Media: it is not uncommon for hiring managers to look up a prospective candidate’s Facebook profile, and have their decisions influenced by what they find.  This practice toes the line of discrimination, but as yet, there aren’t any laws protecting Facebook users from being fired (or not hired) based on the content of their Facebook page.  It is imperative that you protect yourself at the very least with privacy filters.  These are options you can select when posting a status to Facebook.  You can also control, to an extent, what content others can post on your Timeline.

For example, let’s say you have recently applied to a firm as a software developer.  The hiring manager receives your resume, and looks you up on Facebook.  He sees that your profile picture is you with a pyramid of empty shot glasses, perhaps from your birthday.  That image colors how the hiring manager perceives you now.  This can be particularly damaging if the work environment is more conservative.  Based on that picture, the hiring manager is (technically) legally able to choose not to hire you, as your public face is counter to his/the company’s moral/behavioral standards.

Now let’s say that you are more careful, and you filter your posts, so nothing that could be objectionable or harmful to you is publicly viewable.  You can still feel the burn of rejection if you don’t have controls on who can post what to your timeline, if your friend posts a picture of you out at a political rally, or writes about how wasted you two got when bar-hopping over the weekend, etc.

If the individual privacy settings are too complicated, you can always have two separate Facebook pages: one with your real name that is professional (good for sharing articles about your particular job area), and one that is personal with a fictitious name (the more fictitious, the better) for you and your friends.

Is it fair for hiring managers to make decisions based upon our personal pages? No.

But, as there currently isn’t any legislation to protect what’s on our pages, it’s best to take the extra step and protect yourself.

Social Media can greatly help and hinder your ability to land a job. Make sure you’re getting lots of content and information out there, but evaluate what you post so that it’s the right kind of content.

Want to speak with someone who can answer your questions? Cal 855-TEKSTREAM or submit the form below to have a recourcing specialist contact you.