What do your social media accounts look like right now?
A picture of your dinner on Instagram. A re-tweet of a comedian poking fun at a certain politician. A Facebook album of your last girls' night out (complete with some margarita-fueled shenanigans).
What if we told you that your next employer is taking a long hard look at all of these things, and using it to pass judgment on your ability to do a job?
According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring. In fact, 3 in 10 employers have someone whose sole job it is to get the scoop on your online persona.
So what are they looking for exactly? It turns out that employers search for a few key indicators that a candidate is hirable when doing some digging online:
- Information that supports their qualifications for the job
- A professional online persona at all
- What other people are posting about the candidates
- Any reason at all not to hire a candidate
And more than half of employers report finding content on social media that caused them to not hire a candidate. If you’re not in the market for a new job, you may think you’re off the hook. But not so fast: The survey also found that half of employers check current employees' social media profiles, and over a third have reprimanded or fired an employee for inappropriate content
70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring.
Ready to give your online persona a makeover? Courtney Spritzer and Stephanie Cartin, co-CEOs of the award-winning social media marketing and influencer agency Socialfly, know a thing or two about crafting a brand on social media and they have specific strategies you case use to ensure you’re profiles are helping, not hurting, your career.
“Social media are platforms for self-expression, but if you are looking to build a personal brand or image for your career, keep in mind that potential employers may have social media policies in place,” says Spritzer. “We recommend you post as if you are already following their policy.” That means steering clear of these major social no-nos:
Social media don’ts
- Being controversial. “There are a few obvious things you should avoid on social media when crafting your image and brand,” the duo says. “We don’t recommend posting long, controversial posts anywhere, but especially avoid that on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook.” Save the rants for happy hour with your friends and keep it offline: Thirty-two percent of companies surveyed reported not hiring a candidate because of discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion posted online, and 30 percent did not hire a candidate because they bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee on social media.
- Getting too personal. Spritzer and Cartin recommend keeping anything in your personal life that you wouldn't share openly in the workplace off of social media. Thirty-eight percent of companies surveyed reported not hiring a candidate because they posted information about them drinking or using drugs, and the same number of companies nixed a potential employee from the running due to provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information posted online.
- Posting the same thing on every platform. “One of the biggest mistakes people make on social media when it comes to their image and brand is posting the same content on every platform,” says Cartin. “Each platform is unique, and the content you post on each one should reflect the purpose of the channel.”
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The right way to use each social media platform
It’s nerve wrecking that our online persona can have such a big impact on our real lives. But don’t run and delete your accounts: not having a presence on social media can be just as harmful. Fifty-seven percent of employers are less likely to call someone in for an interview if they can't find a job candidate online. And having well-crafted accounts can actually help you get the job: More than 44 percent of employers have found content on a social networking site that caused them to hire a candidate.
Start with your bio. “Your social media accounts are your online resume, and might be the first impression you give to a potential employer,” says Spritzer. “Use this to your advantage and craft your bio as if it is your elevator pitch. Briefly describe some of your interests and who you are including location and links to your website or projects you are proud of.”
57 percent of employers are less likely to call someone in for an interview if they can't find a job candidate online.
Now, it’s time to tailor the content on each one of your accounts to reflect the purpose of the channel. Spritzer and Cartin break down what each platform is best for, plus provide one small thing you can do today to stand out to potential employers and positively portray yourself on each profile:
Instagram is your online portfolio to highlight your talents, interests, career and personal life. Even if your current role at work isn’t visual, you can use the platform to highlight personal achievements and passions. Plus, it's a great place to make connections. “If you follow someone you admire on social media and enjoy the content they create, there’s no harm in reaching out and complimenting their work,” says Spritzer.
“Instagram serves as a platform for visual content and community growth. Use it as a tool to share photos, video and off the cuff content on your story,” says Cartin. “While Instagram is growing as a professional tool with the rise of influencer marketing, it is still a place to express yourself creatively and show off your personality through a curated aesthetic or witty captions.” And think beyond photos: Use stories to share quick content on the go about any big meetings or projects you are working on. Test live video, and maybe even add a friend to the conversation to boost engagement and reach.
What to do today: Update your bio to include location, industry, links to relevant websites/portfolios and something that shows your personality.
“Although they increased the character limit last year, Twitter is your go-to platform to share quick commentary and opinions on trending topics and news stories,” says Cartin. “While it is important to remain authentic to yourself on social media, we wouldn’t recommend getting too controversial on the platform.” Instead, they recommend using it as a blog to comment on trends and industry news, which is a great way to showcase your expertise in your industry.
What to do today: Join the conversation. Retweet an article about an interesting update that relates to your career and share relevant industry news with your own commentary, after all, you have 280 characters now!
“Facebook is a wonderful platform for video content and engagement within groups,” says Spritzer. “For brands and influencers, don’t be shy about going live or sharing high-quality video content around a certain subject.” Again, shy away from posting or sharing controversial posts that could be a red flag to potential employers.
What to do today: Join a few Facebook groups relevant to your industry and turn on your notifications. This ensures you never miss an update and the groups serve as a networking tool to engage with other professionals in your field and gain insights.
“LinkedIn is meant to help build your professional network and make connections,” says Cartin. “Professional development is the backbone of the platform, and you should keep that in mind when posting content. Think of LinkedIn etiquette in the same sense you would your workplace and post, share and comment accordingly.”
We tend to leave our profile stagnant, and then hastily update it when we're on the job hunt, but Spritzer and Cartin recommend making small updates each week instead. “Have you recently completed a project that went beyond your role? Are you taking online classes to expand a skill set? When you make strides, small and large in your career, update your LinkedIn,” Spritzer says. “We recommend checking your profile daily for new connections and making sure to include new responsibilities and relevant skills. Even if you are comfortable in your job, you may forget about the smaller tasks that set you apart when you are looking for a new role.”
What to do today: Update your profile with a new skill you’ve developed or successful project you’ve completed at work.
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