My previous article highlighted that employers are increasing the use of social media to identify and screen candidates. It's a gift for the savvy and a curse for the careless, so make sure you know how to place yourself to take advantage of the free opportunity that the Internet offers you.
Make sure you have an accurate profile on the leading professional networks
Sites such as LinkedIn have become increasingly popular sources of information. Your profile can be the key to success or failure in a job application even before a job application.
Unfortunately, a runaway recruiting industry has resulted in CV's deposited in company databases everywhere, quite often without your permission or knowledge. Most employers are mindful that CV's can be untruthful, contain exaggerated claims, or can get doctored by unscrupulous recruiters. A standard employer practice nowadays would be to run a quick comparison between the information on a CV and that posted onto professional social media sites.
While, unfortunately, you may not be in control of the content of your CV once you've posted it to a recruiter, you do retain full control of your social media profiles.
Creating accurate, well-presented and truthful profiles on professional social media sites is as important nowadays as the quality of your CV.
Take account of the following:
- Take care with your spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting. If you don't feel comfortable doing so yourself, get a trusted colleague to double-check on your behalf.
- Posting high-quality references, hobbies and any charitable activities you undertake will also help portray a professional image; however, ensure that you always remain truthful and are not exaggerating.
- Make sure that your profile also matches the information on your CV or at least the version of your CV for which you have full control.
- Avoid posting any inappropriate comments, or joining in with any blogs posts that undermine your professional claims.
- Be careful which groups or forums you follow, ensuring that they don't conflict with your stated interests or beliefs.
- Avoid anomalies, unexplained career gaps, or conflicting information.
- Don't be tempted to explain the reason for every job move you make, as it tends to demonstrate insecurity. Careers in this day and age are seldom with a single employer. (In fact, researchers in the US state that the average person has 6 or 7 career moves, and the number is rising).
Ensure that your online presence doesn't destroy your career.
You would be wise to take into account that nearly three-quarters of employers have rejected potential candidates based on their inappropriate or inaccurate social media activity.
What does a Google search reveal about you, and when did you last check? What do your ‘other' social media sites show about you? You may feel that your personal life is no business of any work colleagues, or potential employers, in which case you need to ensure that you keep this part of your life private.
Your colleagues and potential employers are well within their right to search for you on the Internet. While there may well be an ethical or legal argument against using anything published about your personal life to undermine you in a work environment, it's best not to leave such things to chance.
As you tidy up your online profile, think of CV's sitting on a potential employers desk and being divided into two piles, one ‘reject' and the other ‘keep'.
If you feel that your online presence portrays a lifestyle that matches or complements your professional social media profiles, then there's absolutely no reason to worry.
If on the other hand, your online presence contradicts your professional social media profiles, you may want to take action. If you're looking for a job, or a new career challenge, then it's a good idea to take a few sensible precautions.
- Activate full security settings on any social media sites restricting access to your close acquaintances, family and friends.
- Your profile picture on most social media sites is nearly always visible. You may want to make sure that you're not potentially handicapping a career opportunity by displaying a compromising image.
- Avoid accepting friend / follow requests from unknown people, as they could be spying on behalf of someone else, or then able to post malicious comments onto your profile.
- Don't be afraid to block any career-damaging connections.
- Take care with any photographs you post. As a general rule of thumb, avoid posting any images online that have meta tags which include your name.
- Get into the habit of performing a Google search on your name, or nickname. Try to identify the likely source of anything unprofessional these searches reveal. Then, if at all possible, remove the offending material.
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