While your active presentation of yourself is important to secure your dream job, the reality is that recruiters will explore your background more proactively through social media. That doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself and altering your online profile, but it does mean taking some steps to ensure it’s clean.
In a recent report on the current state of hiring in Australia, 9 out of 10 Australian hiring managers felt the need to look beyond active applicants to fill a role. By exploring a person’s online activity, recruiters can determine if the face you put forward in your application is a representation of your true self. That means it’s essential to ensure your online presence matches what you wish to convey.
This doesn’t mean being ambiguous or vague about who you are, it doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself, and it certainly doesn’t mean deleting all records of yourself online. Conversely, while it is important to maintain a clean online profile, a positive online footprint can be an important aspect in securing your dream role. We talk a lot about consistency of message and maintaining that across all your job search tools. This includes professional online tools like your website, blogs and LinkedIn profile – but it also applies to your person social media profiles and other online content. A negative and unappealing presence can result in you missing out, even if you’re a great candidate in all other areas.
Below are some quick tips that apply across all social media. While some are more relevant to certain sites than others – all can be leveraged in one way or another to help clean up your profile.
- Update your photo: This is particularly necessary if it is more than a couple of years old. Always go for a clear head and shoulders shot – taken against a white or plain background and not a cropped image from a social situation.
- Update your summary, bio or ‘about me’ section: Make it interesting and relevant, highlighting the personal or business traits you want to emphasise – and ensure it’s up to date with your latest and greatest accomplishments and interests. For LinkedIn, your professional headline automatically defaults to your most recent (or current) job title. Change this to brand yourself while adding relevant keywords to your profile. Decide what you want to be known for and make this your professional headline. For more tips on creating a great bio, read our article ‘How to write a winning bio’.
- Check your settings: Take some time to understand the different security and privacy settings across different sites. For example, on certain settings LinkedIn notifies connections when you’ve updated your profile. If you don’t want your employer to know you’re working on your profile – check these settings. Likewise, with Facebook and other personal social media, check your settings to maintain some level of discretion – but don’t depend on it as your security blanket because it’s not foolproof.
- Claim your vanity URL: A vanity URL is a custom URL address that is specifically branded for marketing purposes. Many social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus offer this facility. It helps users remember how to find specific pages – which means it should be easy to remember, use, and share. Often your name will be gone to someone who claimed it earlier, so we always suggest trying the best combination of your actual name rather than non-descript letters and numbers (which is what the system usually generates). Each site will have its own specific instructions on how to change this so simply search the site’s help section for instructions.
- Check your posts: Looking at what you’re posting and commenting on with an objective eye is really important. Think about the impression you might be giving to a potential recruiter – and be mindful of unnecessarily alienating people due to controversial beliefs or posts. If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust – preferably someone with different beliefs to you. Again it’s not about concealing who you are, but rather about being mindful of your public image.
- Clean up your friends lists and likes: For Facebook, this means unfollowing people or businesses that no longer interest you. Consider grouping individuals into the readymade ‘Acquaintances List’ which means they will show up less in your feeds. Review all your groups and leave if they are no longer relevant. In addition, consider ‘unliking’ pages that contain posts and/or conversations which could be seen as inappropriate. For other social media sites, a similar approach is needed – review groups, likes, follows etc. and clean them up as appropriate.
Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other social media can be easily accessed by recruiters and usually don’t lie. If you are expressing strong opinions or comments and sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. On a positive note, recruiters use social media to search for aspects about an individual that may demonstrate good cultural fit. Leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility.
Is your social media presenting the best version of you online? Would you like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile or bio that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors? If so please see our LinkedIn profile writing service or check out our job search coaching service.