Social Media and Your Job Search

Did you tweet about being late for work? Are there embarrassing pictures of you publicly posted on Facebook? Do you have a mediocre recommendation on LinkedIn?

Social media sites have changed employers’ hiring practices. Candidates need to understand that people can find anything that’s been on the web. Nothing is private, and employers use this information to their advantage. If they are willing to invest time and money to hire and train you, then they are going to invest a few minutes tracking you down on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here are some tips on preparing your online profiles during your job search. In a tough economy, many employers don’t want to take chances. Don’t give them a reason to pass you by for someone seemingly safer.

80% of success is showing up
Contribute to your social networks! Participate in Twitter chats on topics you’re interested in, post on Facebook about the industry you are looking to break into and join relevant LinkedIn groups. These are all great ways to make yourself more visible to recruiters — and increase your own knowledge. However, be mindful of what you are putting out there.

Remember, there is no privacy on the internet
You must realize that before you’re even called in for an interview, employers and recruiters are looking at you online. One quick Google search and they will have full access to you online. Check out your Facebook profile as an outsider by viewing your Facebook page without logging in or just ask a friend who you trust to evaluate your profile for you, and make sure that your profile is clean. Take this opportunity to clean your profiles up now, and utilize your privacy settings. You can set them so that only your friends can see specific content about you. Also, if you Tweet about things that aren’t necessarily professional, be sure that your profile cannot be traced back to your real name.

Stand out from the crowd
Social media profiles can be as important as your resume. Employers will look at you online, and you have the opportunity to not only present a clean, professional online persona, but to stand out from other job seekers. Build your profile to grab a recruiter or employer’s attention. Make it clear in your titles and headlines who you are, what you do, and what you’d like to be doing in the future. Ask for recommendations on your LinkedIn profile from people who you have worked with in the past and who have a high opinion of you. It’s important that the people who recommend you are also professional. You can also follow thought-leaders in your field of expertise on Twitter and possibly engage with them in casual, yet professional ways. Finally, join LinkedIn groups where you will virtually meet valuable connections and have the opportunity to make contributions to discussions.

It works both ways
Just as employers will likely research you online, you should research a potential employer’s online presence. In addition to visiting the company’s website, utilize LinkedIn to learn more about the company and find out if you have any connections in common. Use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to make yourself stand out from the competition. When you demonstrate that you’ve gone the extra step to research, the company will be impressed by your initiative.

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