There’s been a lot of talk in our industry about using social media tools like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter for recruitment, and as a business we’ve begun to reap the rewards of effective social media campaigns. But perhaps not enough is known about how social media is used by clients as well, to find out more about candidates that apply for jobs with them. If you are looking for a new job, that might mean you need to do a little bit of housekeeping on any profiles that you have online, to make sure there’s nothing on there that you wouldn’t want prospective employers to see.
While it is relatively uncommon for employers to check out your Facebook and Twitter profiles in the UK compared to the US, employers are growing increasingly aware that they now have tools at their disposal to help them learn a lot more about you than what the 2-page work history outlined on your CV can tell them. In the US it is becoming the norm for employers to insist on gaining access to your Facebook profile before any offer is made. However uncomfortable this might make us, it is happening and we need to be aware of it and if necessary, make the appropriate changes in order to secure that new job.
Facebook is the most obvious place for prospective employers to sneak a peek at what you’re really like. In the first instance, you can change the privacy settings on your profile. But remember that it’s a small world and if you are applying for local roles it can just take one connection in common that you weren’t aware of for your profile to be visible to the employer. It is best just to apply some common sense; the employer will be turned off by photographs of drunken behaviour, and status updates can also get candidates into trouble like declaring you have a ‘shocking hangover’ on a weekday. Regular use of typical ‘text speak’ like OMG, LOL can be a real turn-off as well. Also, they will be put off by status updates throughout the day – it will suggest that you’ve been using Facebook while you ought to have been hard at work!
It’s best not to think of it as an invasion of privacy, but a chance to show yourself off in the best possible light – snooping on your profile could just as easily demonstrate to the employer that those things you listed in your hobbies and interests are actually true, like finishing a marathon or being skilled in a martial art or travelling to exotic and interesting places. Similarly your status updates and comments can portray you as someone who is intelligent, quick-witted and well-liked by their peers – In other words, definitely someone they would want to interview. The same goes for your Twitter profile, if you have one – someone that posts engaging updates on interesting topics is a lot more appealing than someone that hurls abuse at Justin Bieber while they ought to be working.
So it’s worth bearing all of this in mind when you are looking for work, no matter what stage you are at in your career. Although most employers don’t look, some do, and it could count against you. LinkedIn, however, is regularly used by employers to check people out – and it’s a brilliant tool for showing yourself off in the best light. In fact, a really strong profile can even get you headhunted! And it’s completely free to use. You can even ask your colleagues and people you have worked with in business to write recommendations for you, and you can return the favour for them. In some industries a large network of contacts is highly desirable, so this is worth bearing in mind too.
Don’t be caught out by social media – use it to your advantage to back up your CV, show yourself off in the best possible light, and demonstrate that you are undoubtedly the best person for the job.