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Social Media & Your Job Search

 By: Michelle Metzger, Human Resource Specialist

Living in the information age can either be a burden or a boost to a job seeker.  It is now easier than ever to find information about someone, including a job applicant.  The image you have portrayed across the internet could be affecting your job search in a negative way.  Turn the tables and make your social media presence work for you rather than hold you back.  Here are some easy to enact suggestions.

Facebook

You may feel Facebook has nothing at all to do with your job search and that employers should only check you out on LinkedIn.  If only!

  • Take advantage of privacy settings – these get updated and changed around on Facebook randomly so make it habit to review them periodically.  Adjust your settings so that individuals who are not already your “friend” cannot see your pictures, wall, and other content.
  • Only use neutral, non-incriminating profile pictures.  Even with privacy settings enabled, your profile picture is often still viewable to the whole of the internet.  Promote a positive image by selecting a neutral picture of yourself – select ones that do not include alcohol, smoking, PDA, or inappropriate gestures.  This is applicable for all other social media accounts: Twitter, Instagram, etc.  This photo doesn’t need to be a professional image as necessary for LinkedIn, but it should not detract from your put-together, positive image.

Twitter

Twitter makes it easy to share your every thought under 140 characters – however, when in a job search it is ill-advised.  Censor yourself and use discretion when you post.  Instead, use Twitter in a positive way.  Some employers post job openings on Twitter – keep an eye out for those.  Start following some of the companies you are interested in working for to learn even more about them.  You could even re-tweet some of their posts to engage them.  Follow some industry experts, read their posts, and retweet ones related to your career purposes.  If a potential employer finds your Twitter account, they will find an engaged and informed individual instead of someone who likes the sound of their own tweets.

Instagram

Instagram is Twitter for pictures and can be just as big of a pitfall for job seekers.  Like Facebook, unless your account is fully private, then you should use discretion when posting; Instagramming 25 selfies will make you look like a narcissist.  The earlier suggestions for profile pictures apply here as well.

An Instagram account naturally lends itself to certain job seekers more than others.  For example those in the arts or design can use it show off their skills.  It is a bit more challenging for those in the professional world.

LinkedIn

As LinkedIn is truly the professional social media platform there are quite a few ways to utilize it in your job search, networking, and to establish yourself.  However, the approach of this article is for tips that are a bit more cursory and easy to carry out.

Let’s start with your profile picture.  As stated previously, this profile picture should be a professional picture of you, more than a pleasant-looking candid shot.  This picture should be one that was purposefully taken of you to portray you as a professional.  This picture should not include other people, animals, silly expressions, or be from your wedding.  The picture should be of good quality – not grainy or blurry.  You should be dressed appropriately and have a polished appearance.

These days, it can be a red flag to NOT have a LinkedIn profile if you’re a working professional; this is especially true for areas and companies where relationships are important – like Omaha.  If you don’t have time to maintain an active presence by posting frequently or participating in various group discussions, at least fully develop your profile and periodically log in to keep information and contacts current.  Include an accurate portrayal of your work history and skills.  The information you put on your profile should corroborate what you have on your resume; however, this is not to say that it needs to be a replication of your resume.  On LinkedIn you could take the liberty of augmenting the description your experience that a resume format can sometimes stifle.

Connect with your professional contacts on LinkedIn to build your network.  This is a good practice even if you are not in a job search.  Your network can be helpful for other things that may come up – introductions to potential business partners, hiring referrals, and recommendations.  Also, if you keep your LinkedIn page cultivated, it’s much less work you will have to do when you do find yourself in a job search.  For those of you who may need to conduct a confidential job search while employed – you would run the risk of raising the suspicions of your current employer if all of a sudden you beef up your profile and add 10+ connections at a time.  If you consistently maintain your LinkedIn profile you would not need to worry about retribution from said employer or added discomfort in your workplace.

In Summary

It is evident that there is much you can do to ensure that your social media presence does not work against you while in a job search.  LinkedIn has a large impact because it is a professional platform but it is critical not to neglect the other on-line avenues on which you are engaged.  Above all else, engage privacy settings and utilize appropriate profile pictures.