Just as easily as you can discover jobs on Indeed or LinkedIn or other regional job sites, employers can discover everything about you through Google.
Resumes and cover letters are still just as important, but the rise of social media has introduced an entirely new dimension to job hunting that includes your social posts and mentions.
A survey conducted by CareerBuilder revealed that 37% of employers screen candidates by searching through their social media profiles. The process is as easy as typing your name into Google and hitting enter: Facebook, tweets, blog posts, YouTube videos and anything mentioning your name will pop up immediately for your potential employer to peruse.
If there’s anything troublesome in this content, that will be a strike against you. This includes inappropriate photographs, controversial statements, and vulgar or error-riddled communication.
All of these findings can convince an employer that you are not the right fit for their company. The best strategy to fight this is to Google yourself and delete any compromising pictures or posts that may portray you in a potentially unflattering light.
However, the content you post online doesn’t always have to be a liability. If you’re smart and careful, you can use social media and Google results to your advantage, as a way of displaying yourself as a talented professional.
With some foresight and some knowledge of how to manage your online reputation, you can fill Google’s search results with a panorama of your accomplishments. Preparation can ensure that an employer will be impressed with what they find.
Cultivate your professional image through your online content ahead of time and avoid the damage that can be done with unsavory Google search results. There are a number of ways to go about doing this.
Here are some basic tips to help you go about getting the most out of your social media in terms of your career.
Be Credible in Your Field
Just as Facebook posts, tweets, and blogs can damage your reputation with future employers, they can also reveal your in-depth field knowledge. By posting articles and starting conversations about professional topics, you can show off what you know and what you’ve experienced.
This can be even better than answering questions during an interview. You can reveal a long-term passion and focus with consistent professional posts. Reveal yourself as a field expert to anyone who searches your name. Perhaps even devote a blog to sharing insights and new research regarding your profession.
An employer will be impressed with your passion and enterprise in your field. It will show that you either worked in the field and gained some experience and know-how on these topics or that you can research, understand, and master industry-related topics on your own.
Either way, these are positive attributes you can show employers that will take you one step closer to getting hired
Build Professional Contacts
While you are sharing professional posts and starting conversations, you can also establish contacts with other individuals in your field.
Social media is perfect for networking in this regard. This way, when employers look up your social media accounts, they can see that you are connected in the industry and starting conversations about it. You can reveal yourself as a team player and connected conversationalist before even stepping into a job interview.
The people you network with can also connect you to job openings and potential job prospects. Logging into Facebook can become a major boost for you if you make time for the right people. Always present yourself in a professional manner, and let the job opportunities come to you.
Don’t feel limited by your profession, either. Consider posting content and developing contacts related to your hobbies. This way, your employers can see that you are a fun, interesting, and well-rounded person, that you’re someone that they will want on their team.
Keep Some Things Personal
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a social media account that isn’t connected with your professional life.
Keeping a personal account can be fun and liberating, allowing you to escape from the stresses of work. However, if you’re going to do so, it’s important to make sure your privacy settings give you control over who can and can’t see what you post.
If you have a personal account, customize your privacy settings so that only your close friends and family can see what you post. All social media accounts have this option. This not only allows you to hide what you post from employers’ eyes but also gives you control over what others post on your timeline.
This way, you can enjoy your personal account without needing to worry what’s making it onto Google.
Know What You Need
Sometimes social media is irrelevant to the job you are applying for, and sometimes, it is incredibly important.
Say you’re applying for engineering jobs after wrapping up your undergraduate degree. There’s not really a need for you to skillfully navigate Twitter in that field. You just need to show that you’re a professional.
In this situation, it’s probably best to just hide your social profiles completely. If it’s not relevant to the job, and employers can’t find your profile, it is unlikely to affect your job prospects if they search for your Facebook and nothing comes up.
However, some jobs do require social media experience or at least some marketing savvy. Companies hiring for these positions are looking for a proven track record of marketing experience, and often that includes your own personal brand.
Any job that requires self-promotion or a constant connection to clients may be up this alley. Digital marketers, writers, public relations professionals, salespeople, and others need to stay connected with clients, and social media may be a good way to do that.
It’s important to study other professionals in your industry, and find out what works for them and what doesn’t. If you’re a sales professional and you see one of your competitors absolutely crushing sales goals using social media outreach and engagement, then you can model your professional profile from theirs.
Your professional role on social media can really be guided by what you do, what works in your industry, and works for you personally. No matter what, though, it’s best to make sure that whatever shows up when someone Googles your name paints you in a positive light.
Megan Cahill is the Outreach Coordinator for BrandYourself. In her writing, she offers keen insight into the online branding world for businesses and individuals. Other topics of interest include the U.S. job market, business, marketing, SEO, and everything in between. She believes in empowering people to make their own reputations and aims to show them how.