Believe it or not, your social media profiles are an extension of your professional brand and resume. Increasingly, recruiters and hiring managers are turning to social media as a way to differentiate candidates and vet them for potential internships and jobs, making it extremely important to think twice before you post. Gone are the days where you can just delete old posts as more and more sites spring up that archive social media posts, making it increasingly less likely you can distance yourself from things you may have said even 1 week ago. Now, more than ever before, it is important to have a professional presence on the Internet (Yes, that includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat).
Students have to ensure that their social media meshes with what they are saying on their resume or in their cover letters. The comments you post are as important as the pages you like, so even the people and images you associate with on social media can hurt your job prospects. This is all difficult to keep up with, so the team at Next Wave has laid out seven suggestions to managing your social media.
1. Think Before You Tweet (Speak)
It’s easy to get caught up in the often heated, back and forth exchanges between people you know and those you don’t know online. To avoid getting caught up, always take an extra 5-minutes between posts. Even if you are still mad five minutes later, ask yourself, will tomorrow me regret today’s post. Beyond heated exchanges, we also encourage you to make sure your social media pages avoid any political comments, inflammatory messages, or anything else that might offend the person who could hold your professional future in their hands.
2. Audit (and Delete) Your Posts Regularly
You must be grammatically unimpeachable. Check your posts for accuracy, typos, or any other errors before you share them and don’t hesitate to edit or delete your posts as needed. In the age of fast moving news, it's easy to make a statement at noon that proves false by 4PM. If you want to be seen as as serious professional, make sure everything you write is grammatically correct and void of typos, lies, and other inaccuracies.
3. Follow Companies & Join Professional Industry Groups
Social media isn’t only about having fun. Follow the professional pages for companies you are interested in working for so you can remain up to date on what they are doing. Join groups with tastemakers and industry experts that will allow you to keep up with the latest developments in your target industry and use those posts to test and update your knowledge base. Show potential future employers that you care about the field you’re hoping to get into. If properly leveraged, social media is a powerful educational tool.
4. Leverage Filters and Adjust Privacy Settings
Invest your time to learn and understand about privacy settings on each of the platforms you use and set them accordingly. Remove yourself from controversial posts made by others if you notice something inappropriate. Create settings that block automatic tagging, so you can avoid being caught-up in unnecessary scandals. Request that your friends not share every moment of your Friday and Saturday evening and remove yourself from the platforms where you don’t feel you can properly control your privacy and professional brand.
5. Be Online
It is important to have an online presence. It is comforting for recruiters and hiring managers to see and learn things about candidates that may not be on their resume. According to Jobvite, over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to discover talent, while over 55% use Facebook and Twitter. Involvement on these sites, to name just a few, is an easy and important way to put your face, skills, and experiences in front of the people who make recruiting decisions. These are particularly important because they often require very little ad hoc effort on your end. If the recruiters from one firm in an industry can find you, then it is likely that the number 2 competitors can also.
6. But, Limit Your Time Online
That said, spending too much time can also hurt you. Social media should be used to share pertinent information about you, your life, what you do, and what you’re interested in. Avoid over sharing, posting, and tweeting 24/7. Late-night time stamps of posts can send a red flag to potential employers that you’re spending too much time on social media and not on work. Spending too much time on social media during working hours also sends a poor message to your current employer.
7. Social Media Doesn’t Replace Offline Interaction
Social media should be just one part of your overall recruiting strategy. No matter the industry, even with an active social media presence, your must make offline contact with recruiting staff and hiring managers in order to be considered. Even savvy social media jobs require applicants to meet in person, so nothing beats “old-fashioned” email or live communication over the phone. Your number of followers, quality of your blog/website, retweets, or size of your online networks will help a jobseeker get noticed, but you will still need to be able to leverage traditional techniques to actually be hired.
As social media platforms continue to evolve, it becomes more important for young professionals to learn how to leverage them. Social media offers a chance to connect with potential employers on a personal and professional level, but it is important to maintain professionalism at all times.