You’ve fine-tuned your resume, spent hours agonizing over the perfect cover letter, and hit “apply” so many times your fingers are numb. Your references are solid, and the interview? Killed it.
So, why aren’t you getting the job? You might be overlooking one thing — social media. Sure, we may be constantly snapping, tweeting, ‘gramming, pinning, and scrolling through Facebook, but it’s easy to forget the influence social media can have – especially when it comes to your job search.
3 out of 4 hiring managers and recruiters look at a candidate’s online presence, and a staggering 92% of companies are using social media to hire new employees. But, this isn’t to say you should run for the hills and boycott technology forever – the key is to make social media work for you (and your job search), not against you. Here’s how:
On all platforms:
1. The first thing you need to do is clean it up. Go through everything — even the accounts you don’t use anymore — and delete anything that might leave someone with a less-than-favorable impression of you. This includes whiney rants, critical comments, profanity, and, of course, incriminating photos.
Throwing in your two cents on the latest celebrity feud or posting a funny photo from a party may seem harmless, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You never know how a potential employer will interpret it. There’s no guarantee that that questionable picture of you from freshmen welcome week will disappear off the internet forever, but as least you can freshen up your own accounts to present the best version of yourself possible.
2. Use your real name. You know how everyone constantly reminds you to make a professional email account so you’re not still using that old, embarrassing email address from middle school? This is the same thing.
Avoid using vague nicknames or personal information in your username, and use your full name on all of your accounts. This way, there won’t be any inconsistencies that might confuse someone looking for more information about you.
3. If you have a personal website or online portfolio (and if you don’t, now would be a good time to get on it), make sure you’re linking to it in your bio or “about” section. None of your accounts should be a dead end. Every platform is different, which means having one place to bring it all together — who you are, your mission, and what you’re doing — is crucial. At the very least, direct to your LinkedIn page for more information.
4. Proofread. Would someone who’s “detail-oriented” and a “perfectionist” really let a typo or grammatical error slip through so easily? Go ahead, check it again.
5. While you’re at it, review your privacy settings to make sure you’re using them the way you want. If you’re going to be sharing personal information, or you’re too attached to some photos that might be considered controversial to delete them, keep it hidden.
On Facebook, you can tailor who sees your posts by setting them to “public,” “friends,” or even a custom option where you can control which of your friends see what. There aren’t as many privacy options on platforms like Twitter or Instagram, but you can still set your accounts to private, where people have to request to follow you before they can see your posts.
6. Along the same lines, turn on Timeline review to approve everything you’re tagged in before it appears on your Timeline. Embarrassing childhood photos, incriminating party snaps, or one-too-many memes you’re tagged in will all be hidden until you give the go-ahead.
7. Utilize the “about” and featured photos section. Facebook may not be an entirely professional tool, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include some basic professional information, like your school, major, and any clubs or organizations you’re part of.
This will polish off your profile nicely — plus, if a potential employer is looking at your page, it’ll give you more credibility. Win-win.
8. It might sound counterintuitive, but don’t make your entire account private. While it’s a good idea to restrict most of your profile to friends only, make sure your main profile pictures and basic job and school info are public. Having no information to show just looks shady.
9. Like Facebook, your Twitter bio should showcase a mix of your personal and professional interests, but with only 160 characters, short and sweet is the goal. Keep it focused on who you are, what you’re interested in, and what you’re doing professionally.
10. Promote yourself (but not too much). If you’ve been working on an interesting project, or just finished something you’re proud of, share it! It’s your Twitter – you should be talking about yourself, just not all the time. A constant stream of self-promo will only annoy followers, and look arrogant to people looking at your account.
11. Follow influencers in your field. Like and retweet content that interests you. Jump into trending topics to engage with other people in your industry. Thank an influencer for sharing their work, and tell them what you think about it (nicely, obviously).
This doesn’t mean you can’t use Twitter to keep up with friends, but following (and — this is key — interacting with) major players in your industry will give you a huge advantage over the competition.
Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat aren’t typically used as professional tools, but you can usually get away with it in more creative industries — think photography, journalism, marketing, and design.
If it fits, don’t be afraid to show off your work in a different way — some people have even gotten jobs from it. Welcome to the job search in 2016.