social mediaProbably, your parents or another family member has told you in the past how important it is to make a good first impression. Now think about all the times you were introduced to someone who left you with an unfavorable impression — even though you (like the rest of us) were taught not to “judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately, though many of us really try to avoid making assumptions about the character, lifestyle, hygiene (or even perhaps) moral values of others, WE STILL DO IT! And once we make that all important first impression on someone, it can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo.

Because of the internet, first impressions with employers are happening earlier and earlier in the interview process. Complicating matters even more, the average job interview may now take on an assortment of shapes and forms. For example, your first interview with a company could be with:

  1. The Owner or CEO
  2. A panel of managers departments across the company
  3. A phone or online interview
  4. The receptionist / front desk
  5. None of the above

Anything can happen during the interview process. But though you can’t control what questions an interviewer may ask, you can control how you respond to them. Make a great first impression by showing (and telling) them what the best possible version of “you” looks and sounds like.

The Constant Presence of Social Media

computerOften, we forget we can be displayed and screened 24/7 — without our consent or knowledge by potential employers. Our private lives can be exposed and put under the magnifying glass, stopping potential interviews before they even begin. How does this happen? If you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media platforms, you may be unwittingly exposing your private life to the scrutiny of potential employers each and every day.

To put that statement into context, let’s look at some pretty interesting statistics from the Recruiting platform Jobvite’s 2014 Annual Social Recruiting Survey:

  • Data shows that 93% of hiring managers will review a candidates social profile before making a hiring decision
  • Of that 93%, 55% have reconsidered a candidate based on what they find, with most of the double takes being negative
  • 83% of recruiters say that making references to illegal drugs on social media profiles is a huge turn off
  • 70% of recruiters say that sexually suggestive photos or posts can count against you
  • Over 66% of recruiters told Jobvite that posts that include profanity reflected poorly on the candidate
  • Over 50% of recruiters didn’t like posts of guns
  • 44% of recruiters say posts about alcohol are concerning
  • 66% of hiring managers said they would hold poor spelling and grammar against candidates. (Please take the time to go over any potential spelling or grammatical errors on your profile)

These statistics should be taken as a wake-up call, telling many of us that we may need to changes to portions our online profiles. Don’t wait until that great job passes you by because of something HR saw online. Reevaluate (and if necessary readjust) your social media accounts today.

Using Social Media for Your Job Searchinterviewing woman

Now that you’ve removed all outdated or potentially embarrassing items on your social media profiles, let’s discuss what steps you can take to use social media to strengthen and promote your job search more effectively.

First, I want you to imagine that you’re the Number One Person you most admire professionally. Choose a person who is at the top of their game. Someone you respect who works in your profession or in an industry you aspire to work in.

If you like tech, this could be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. If you’re interested in business, this could be Warren Buffet. Or it can even be on a local level — say if you work in nursing this could be a popular and well known nurse with lots of experience and influence.

Now, while still imagining yourself to be this person, think about how many people you influence and how. Then consider how the following actions would affect your image.

  1. Posting pictures of yourself with illegal drugs and paraphernalia
  2. Uploading profiles of yourself with numerous misspellings and grammatical errors
  3. Posting sexually suggestive pictures

Would the above kinds of actions taint your image, eroding the respect you’ve worked so hard to gain? Probably. Now, think of ways you can improve your now shattered image and rebuild your reputation. You can start by pretending you’re your own publicist; you want to make sure that your social media image is in alignment with how you want people to think of you in your professional life.

Try to think of 5 positive words you want other people to say about you professionally. Words like agreeable, outgoing, cordial, team leader, trustworthy and selfless. Find ways to verbally or visually reflect these words on your social media profile.

  • Selfless, Benevolent, Charitable – Show photos or write blogs of you doing community service
  • Team Leader – Display pictures of yourself with family and friends
  • Outgoing, Pro-New Experiences – Post pictures of you while engaging in outdoor activities
  • Inspirational – Write posts that are inspiring and have a positive message (try using a famous quote or news article)

 

tipsHere Are a Few Other Techniques to Help You Improve Your Social Media Presence

 

Google your name and check the results: Current or prospective employers can gather a lot of information with just one Google search. You might be surprised to see what comes up when you search your name. Blog posts, content and photos you posted years ago. There may even be some information on there that you’d prefer to be private that’s actually public.

Set the Privacy Settings on your Social Medial accounts: This is one of the most common “housekeeping” items that people forget to do. Make sure you always set the privacy settings on your accounts to ensure your profile is only visible to the people you want to see your profile. You should also be aware that if you allow anyone to comment on the profile page of your account (Facebook) they could post something that misrepresents who you are, or what you want people to see.

Expand your social media network: when your see a thread, article or topic about something positive, go ahead and respond to it with some words of wisdom or add more positivity to it. Social media is meant for you to be social and you can help you gain connections with “like-minded” people who may become an advocate for you.

Join groups that align with your career interests: Don’t forget to leverage professional social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with other professionals. You can link up with other professionals who may be less advanced, on the same level as you, or more advanced than you. By connecting with people with different levels of expertise, you can become a teacher, a mentee and an expert all on the same platform. LinkedIn also has tons of special interest and industry specific groups you can join. Make intelligent comments that spark a conversation (don’t forget — check your spelling and grammar).

Follow companies that pertain to your industry. Make yourself an expert on trending and relevant topics by mentioning companies in the industry you are pursuing in your social media posts. Also, follow these companies to keep up with what’s current. Then once you have an opportunity to present yourself in an interview you’ll be able to speak intelligently about these companies and others, as well as the industry as a whole. This is a great way to impress interviewers and build your social media image.

 

Putting It All Together

The bottom line is that everything — and I mean everything — counts! So you want your internet presence to speak volumes about who you are as a person. MAKE A PERSONAL STATEMENT. Let the world know how phenomenal and invaluable you are and how with you as a team member they can expect positive results.

Remember, if the content you create on social media isn’t helping you, then it’s hurting you. Be courageous and strategic about your online presence and benefits will follow shortly thereafter.

By Rey LaChaux