How Important Is My Online Profile To My Career Progress
Twenty years ago, looking for a job meant combing newspaper ads or joining a recruitment firm, submitting your CV, and being 100% certain that the information contained therein was all an employer had to go on. Likewise, the information on prospective employers available to candidates was limited and tightly controlled.
The Internet hasn’t just moved the goalposts, it’s changed the game. Candidates can thoroughly research potential employers, and vice versa. Social media represents a potential Pandora’s Box, where every off-colour, offhand comment is preserved for posterity. You can either ramp up your security settings, use pseudonyms for social networking (although that’s getting harder), or simply abstain from socializing online altogether. In some respects, this last option is the best, giving you total control over your reputation – and perhaps even intriguing potential employers.
However, notability by absence is not practical or desirable for most of us, which means you have to start treating your online presence as the character reference it is to employers. One recent survey (by Reppler) showed that 91% of employers use social media to screen applicants. It’s frankly surprising that that figure isn’t even higher, given how easy it is to Google a name.
Let’s take a look at the most common social networking platforms, and how you can optimize your presence on each to make you the most attractive candidate you can be:
The primary interface between employer employee, it’s essential that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and comprehensive. Be sure to include a photograph for, while you (hopefully) won’t be judged on your appearance, the lack of a visual cue to your name will make you more forgettable. Some basic LinkedIn SEO practices can really boost your profile. Going above and beyond the basic information will do the same, so be sure to fill in additional information to help you stand out from the crowd. The professional networks you’re involved with; the events you attend; even the books you read, are all good ways of demonstrating your enthusiasm for going above and beyond the ‘basic requirements.’
As touched on above, it’s generally advisable to use the maximum privacy settings on Facebook. Employers expect you to have a social life outside your career – but that doesn’t mean they will resist the temptation to browse your profile if its available to them. To check your privacy settings are working as they should, log on to Facebook, click on your name in the corner to view the timeline, and click the icon below your cover photo. Now, click the ‘View As’ link. This will allow you to see how your profile looks to anyone who Googles your name + ‘Facebook.’ If you see older posts (prior to your privacy settings being maximised) you can opt to change permissions for all past posts by clicking on the drop down icon next to your name, selecting ‘Privacy Settings,’ locating the section that says ‘Who can see my stuff?’ and limiting it to Friends.
Oh, and if you’re looking for recruiters via business Facebook pages, it’s a good idea to ‘like’ and – carefully – comment on any you are interested in working for.
Twitter is also a good forum for interacting with potential employers, and demonstrating a genuine interest in their business. Follow the businesses and industries you’re interested in – the insight you gain on their culture will be invaluable should you get a job interview. It goes without saying, your own Twitter feed should avoid extreme political views or anything that might make you less attractive to employers.
Blogs are the best space in which you can control your online image. Social media posts tend to be made unthinkingly, which is where problems can arise. But bloggers looking to grow their audience will write considered, structured content, generally on an area of expertise.
Starting a blog that relates to your field is a great way of establishing yourself as an independent thinker with strong analytical skills and a desire to put yourself out there, even when there are no financial rewards for doing so. A regularly updated professional blog will give employers a strong impression of your passion for the industry.
Matt is a Director of The Talent Hive and leads the Engineering recruitment practice within the business. Originally from the UK he’s been living in New Zealand for 11 years. Matt is a retired ‘amateur’ athlete who has given up chasing great marathon times for chasing his young children around the park, a far more worthy (if not exhausting) pursuit.
At The Talent Hive we specialise in connecting IT & Engineering professionals with the right career opportunities. We encourage collaboration, socialising your success and sharing industry insight and expertise. Start the journey, connect with The Talent Hive today.
Categorised as: Job Seeker Advice