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Don’t Let Social Media Shut You Out

How to use Social Media to attract potential employers

social mediaTo a great extent, you are who the Internet says you are. Today you can be sure that employers and recruiters will be checking you out online – before and after you’re hired. It’s up to you to make sure your virtual presence doesn’t damage your career.

Not a week goes by when social media isn’t in the news. And often it’s a story about someone getting in trouble at work because of something they posted online. It was national news in 2011 when Gilbert Gottfried was fired as the voice of the Aflac Duck following his wildly inappropriate tweets after the Japanese Tsunami. But, there are plenty of lesser known instances – like the math teacher who lost her job after tweeting about smoking marijuana – as well.

But, it’s not just your current employer you have to worry about. According to a 2013 study by CareerBuilder, more employers are finding reasons not to hire candidates because of their social media presence. Some said they took candidates out of the running after finding various concerning content online. The top two negative behaviors mentioned by employers were 1) provocative/inappropriate photos and/or information (50%) and 2) information about candidate drinking or using drugs (48%). Remember that old adage about not saying anything bad –even if your boss is a first-class jerk? Many employers said candidates were crossed off the list for badmouthing a previous employer (33%).

But, it’s not just about weeding bad candidates out. It’s also about ensuring great hires. This means flagrantly bad behaviors are not the only thing that turn employers off. Being negative online can also hurt your chances of being hired. When researching you online employers are trying to decide whether or not you’d be a great addition to their team. Are you walking a 5K for charity or using social media just to vent and complain? Everything you post online helps them determine who you are as a person.

Besides avoiding blatantly negative behaviors like racy photos there are things you can do to make yourself more appealing to potential employers.

  • Be sure your presence is consistent across all media and true to who you are. Make sure your LinkedIn profile aligns with your resume. No, it shouldn’t be exactly the same word for word, but the jobs, including titles, should be. Inconsistencies tend to make people suspicious.
  • Avoid being negative online. While a picture of you having a glass of wine on your birthday probably won’t turn off employers, constant ranting likely will. If your boss truly is the devil incarnate tell your best bud over drinks rather than making negative remarks on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
  • Share the positive things you do. Walking a 5K for charity? Post pictures of that. Mentoring younger staff? Tweet about that. Let employers know you’re the type of person they want to have as part of their team.
  •  Research yourself to find out what potential employers will find. Keep tabs on yourself by setting up a free Google alert for your name. Use alerts to follow companies you’re interested in as well.

Today your online presence is your calling card, particularly when it comes to your career. So use it wisely. Make sure recruiters and hiring managers will be talking about you in a good way.

About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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