When used appropriately, social media can help you find a job, career advice, and people who can assist you with growing your career.
Social media is now a very important aspect of our lives, even if we ignore it (or try to). Much information (and misinformation) is shared via social media, and Google finds and shares most of our social media activities.
As What Color Is Your Parachute author Richard Bolles noted several years ago, “Google is the new resume.” Like it or not, he was correct, as usual.
A 2010 study by Microsoft revealed that many companies actually require their staffs to check the online reputations of job applicants. Not being found is considered a bad sign.
Unfortunately, today making BIG mistakes that are seen by the whole world is extremely easy, particularly if something “goes viral” and is seen by millions of people. Once a misstep is picked up by the search engines, everyone can find it, and making a misstep in social media is very easy.
For a successful career, manage your Google resume, and avoid making these mistakes.
Bad Assumptions About Social Networks –
1. Do NOT expect instant results.
If you are job hunting, you won’t find a job immediately just by joining LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Invest the time and energy to build the public persona (or personal brand) that will support your job search. Read LinkedIn for Job Search, Personal Branding with LinkedIn, Facebook for Job Search, and Twitter for Job Search for more information on leveraging the different social networks for your job search.
No one (celebrities excluded) automatically finds a job, a date, a mate, or millions of dollars just by joining or posting something on social media. But all of those, except the millions of dollars (mostly), do happen often enough, to a sufficient number of people, to make the investment of time cost effective for most people.
2. Do NOT share all of your thoughts and emotions.
Too many people think of social media as a medium where they can share everything with the world or, at least, with their social “friends.” They believe that they are being “authentic” — being honest and sharing what makes them unique. Given how relentlessly recruiters and potential employers search online to get a sense of job applicant personality and “fit,” that sharing can be a very dangerous thing to do.
Remember that what you share online is seen and read (or heard) by many people who don’t really know you.
When you joke “So glad that marijuana is legal now! It makes my life tolerable,” people who don’t know you aren’t sure if you are serious or kidding — including recruiters and potential employers. Those employers are NOT anxious to hire someone with a marijuana problem.
They have probably never met you or talked with you. So, what you share in social media tells them who you are. This means that managing what you make visible to the world is extremely important.
Yes, in the USA, our Constitution guarantees us “freedom of speech” (and writing). However, that Constitutional freedom does not mean that others (like potential employers) are banned from forming an opinion about you based on your online sharing.
Unless you have a job which requires you to be controversial, the smartest thing you can do is keep your most contentious opinions to yourself and your closest personal friends. The most sensitive topics include religion, politics, and sports. In addition, sharing your activities that could be viewed as breaking the law (e.g. driving drunk, taking drugs) is not smart.
3. Do NOT avoid social media because it’s too “dangerous.”
Yes, social media must be used carefully, but by ignoring or avoiding it, you are handicapping yourself in several ways:
- You are invisible online if you aren’t in social media. And, today, being invisible is not good. You look out-of-touch and unprepared for the requirements of today’s world. The assumptions often made are that you are either out-of-date with technology today or you are hiding something. (See “5 Ways You Look Out-of-Date in Your Job Search” for more.)
- You miss the opportunity to make a great impression on a potential employer.According to the Microsoft study,”In the United States, 86% of human resources professionals surveyed stated that a positive online reputation influences the candidate’s application to some extent; almost half stated that it does so to a great extent.”
So, well-done LinkedIn Profile makes a positive impression on recruiters and potential employers. It’s also an opportunity for some personal marketing — a live version of your resume, but much more impressive because it can be more complete and provide employers with a portfolio of your work.
Yes, people can blow opportunities by publishing dumb stuff, particularly photos of themselves drinking, smoking dope, or doing something illegal. But, as we have seen, more often a good social media presence and solid profile had a positive impact on job seekers getting hired.
- Someone else may “define” who you are, damaging your job search and career.Through proper use of social media, YOU control the “message” about who you are and what you do. Otherwise, what someone publishes about you – or about someone else with your name – is what the world sees. And they will think it is about you, if they don’t have any other information.
Google loves LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media. So they will usually be present on the first page of Google search results on your name. This gives you the opportunity to present your “best face” to the world because you control what they tell the world about you.
When you are invisible, you are vulnerable, and you look out-of-date.
Bottom Line on Social Media and Your Job Search
Social media can be a very effective tool for your job search, used and used properly. Ignore it at your own peril — you are more vulnerable in your job search if you avoid social media. Certainly you can damage your career with inappropriate use, no question. So, put on your grown-up mindset, pay attention to the rules of the (social media) road, and you’ll be fine.
For more information, check out the other articles in this section and Job-Hunt’s Guide to Personal Online Reputation Management. Companies and governments work on managing their online reputations. We should do it, too!
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.
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