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Is Your Social Media Presence Hindering Your Job Prospects?

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee on Flickr creative commons. ("social media" - http://bit.ly/1CtSBKH.)

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee on Flickr creative commons. (“social media” – http://bit.ly/1CtSBKH.)

Job seekers may not realize how heavily their social media profiles can weigh on their job prospects. A social media presence that complements a professional image is just as important as having a great résumé and interview skills. An unprofessional and inappropriate social media presence can easily close the door to career advancement. A 2014 Jobvite survey revealed 93% of companies and recruiters use social media to find candidates. A good number of job seekers aren’t searching for work in the same places job recruiters are looking for candidates, despite both parties leveraging the power of social media. By simply going where recruiters are looking for talent, smart job seekers can overcome the social media mismatch. Job seekers can also take their search a step further by making sure their social media presence enhances their job search efforts.

Going Where the Recruiters Are

In March 2013 I wrote about how less than half of unemployed job seekers have LinkedIn profiles. Even fewer employed job seekers are on LinkedIn. Nearly two years later, the data hasn’t changed at all. A 2014 Jobvite survey revealed 86% job seekers who leverage social media use Facebook as their platform of choice. Of those surveyed 76% stated they found their current position through Facebook. The survey also showed 40% of job seekers used Twitter, another 37% used Google+, while LinkedIn came in dead last at 36%. When it comes to looking for and landing a job, Facebook is clearly the winner among the majority of job seekers.

When it comes to recruiters searching for job candidates, the Jobvite survey paints a very different picture. A whopping 94% of respondents used LinkedIn to find and hire potential employees. Facebook is a close second at 65%, Twitter is third at 55%, and poor Google+ has been left in the dust with only 18% of recruiters using this social media platform. LinkedIn is the social network of choice among job recruiters, and it is underutilized by the majority of job seekers. The fact that LinkedIn is so heavily ignored by the bulk of job seekers means there is plenty of opportunity for those willing to use the platform.

Your Social Media Presence Can Help or Hinder You

First and foremost, it is important to maintain all of your social networking profiles. If you’re actively searching for a job, a recruiter will check out your social media profiles at some point during the hiring process. A Reppler survey broke down the phases where hiring managers use social networking sites to screen candidates. About 47% of hiring mangers checked social media profiles after receiving an application. 27% of hiring managers checked social media after an initial conversation with the prospective employee. Another 15% checked after a detailed conversation with a job seeker, 7% of hiring managers did not use social media to screen candidates, and the remaining 4% checked profiles right before making an offer. According to a Staff.com infographic, about three out of every four hiring managers and recruiters check a candidate’s social profile. What they see could have a major positive or negative impact on your job search.

Think about it. What’s better? To have a potential employer see how actively engaged you are in your field, or to discover your online profile doesn’t match your résumé? Or worse, you have a highly unprofessional social media presence. Not to belittle Facebook (or even Twitter), but a poorly-maintained profile littered with inappropriate posts or photos, along with disparaging remarks about a current employer can take a candidate out of the running for a position, just as easily as a well-maintained profile can help someone get a job offer. The pictures of you consuming a little too much alcohol during happy hour may be funny to you and your friends, but they are a major turn off to prospective employers. Likewise, if you constantly paint your current company in a bad light on social media, a recruiter may pass over you in favor of a more positive candidate.

A survey of 300 hiring managers at Reppler showed how social media is being used to screen job applicants, and why it is important to keep a well-maintained online presence. Facebook and Twitter are primarily used to form a personal view on candidates, in a way that is not always possible with LinkedIn. 76% of respondents used Facebook to screen candidates, while 53% used Twitter and the remaining 48% used LinkedIn. 69% of recruiters rejected a job candidate because of what they saw on their social media profiles. On the positive side, 68% hired a candidate because of their profiles. The candidates’ social media profiles gave recruiters a positive impression for three major reasons: their personality was an organizational fit for the company, their profile supported their professional qualifications, and their profile showcased their creativity.

How does that translate into an online social media presence that would be a good match between job seekers and employers? LinkedIn is a great place to showcase your professional experience and your specific hard skills. Hard skills are what help you get your foot in the door in the interview process. It is important to fully complete your LinkedIn profile to capture the attention of recruiters who may be researching you. If you need an example, Brynne Tillman and I have profiles that have been completely filled out. Additionally, the social network can be used to network with professionals and recruiters in your field via industry groups.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ can also be used to highlight your professional experience, create industry-related posts, and show off your soft skills. Soft skills such as effective communication, team work, leadership and problem solving are important in helping recruiters to decide if you’ll be a good cultural fit for their company. Beyond.com surveyed more than 4,000 HR professionals and job seekers, and they revealed that hard skills earn the interview, but soft skills and a cultural match garner the job offer.  Going back to social media usage, if you had the solution to a difficult problem at work there’s no harm in posting your achievement on social networks to demonstrate your soft and hard skills. Listing membership in an industry specific organization, or your volunteer work, can also bring about more excitement and interest in you as a candidate. An optimized social media profile can get you called first for an interview, and can generate greater demand for you. The opportunities will come to you and you’ll have the luxury of choice between competing offers, and the confidence to negotiate a salary for the job of choice. In short, optimizing your social media presence to accentuate professional image in conjunction with LinkedIn is a great way to standout among the many job seekers using social media.

How do you view your social media presence? Are you utilizing your various social networks to their fullest potential? Or are you part of the 64% of job seekers who don’t have a LinkedIn profile?  The savviest of job seekers are hunting for opportunity on LinkedIn, and taking full advantage of recruiters’ overwhelming preference for the platform. If you’re already on LinkedIn, is your profile fully optimized and visible to recruiters who are looking for you right now? If you’re not using all of LinkedIn’s features to your advantage, you could be losing out on your next major job opportunity. Changing your default headline and polishing your profile are two major ways to stand out from the crowd. You can take your job search to the next level, and unveil your brilliance by leveraging all four social networks to make yourself an appealing candidate to job recruiters.

Survivor – The Search Is Over

Music video by Survivor performing The Search Is Over. (C) 1985 Sony Music Entertainment