According to recent data, 91% of employers have used social networking sites to screen potential candidates. Couple this with the fact that 69% of employers have rejected candidates based on what they had seen of them on the candidates’ respective social networking sites, and 68% have hired candidates based on content posted to their accounts.
Not sure if you already have an online presence? Think again. A simple Google search these days is enough to see what potential recruiters will ultimately see of you when researching you as a potential hiring candidate. (And remember, although this encounter may be online, it most certainly still counts as a first impression, whether or not you are even aware of the event occurring).
Ready to take charge of your online presence? Here are some simple strategies to keep in mind as you build your professional digital brand.
The practical behemoth of tracking the world’s personal online activity, Facebook can essentially serve as a looking glass for recruiters into the average day-to-day of your life. Take responsibility for the content that you put out there and strive to make sure that anything you post would never compromise any professional opportunity.
Some basic guidelines to keep in mind:
- Remove any pictures showcasing drinking (even if you are of legal age), drugs, or overly suggestive attire.
- In addition to un-tagging inappropriate photos, ask that your friends remove those pictures from Facebook as well.
- Try NOT to post status updates or share anything that could be perceived to be racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive. Even if you think what you said is funny, a recruiter may not necessarily see it that way.
- Finally, recognize that nothing is really private. Even if you adjust your settings to be visible only to yourself, online content almost always finds a way to seep into the greater digital space. Don’t risk posting potentially controversial material that may find its way to a ‘Friend’ of yours who is employed at a company where you might want to work one day!
Another powerful social networking site is Twitter. Although similar to Facebook in many ways (so the tips from above will also apply), maintaining an active – and appropriate – Twitter account can be a great way of demonstrating to employers strong communication skills as well as both personal and professional interests.
Keep in mind that Twitter is by default a public network so be cautious about what you share.
One of the most relevant online tools for job-hunting, however, is LinkedIn. It is a space where recruiters, current student colleagues and even potential future co-workers will have the opportunity to connect with you. In addition to making sure to actively maintain your own page, be sure to also adhere to these unofficial LinkedIn “Rules:”
- For your profile picture, always use a professional-looking headshot. This will help for both professionals and friends to view you as a serious job candidate.
- Be honest! Do not embellish on any accomplishments you may have achieved, since anyone with an Internet connection will be able to view your online profile.
- Do not accept invitations from people whom you don’t know and also do not send requests to people who don’t know you. With LinkedIn, you want to be able to use the service to build a personally-relevant and valuable online network – which won’t happen if you don’t have already-built relationships with these individuals.
- Add your resume if you feel comfortable. Otherwise, ensure that your profile features all of the relevant points on your resume along with past experiences and/or items that you were not able to include. Feel free to elaborate and expand on these points here; LinkedIn is the absolute best platform to endorse and advertise yourself and your professional skills in as many ways as possible!
- Finally, ask for recommendations. Although some recruiters may treat these lightly, it never hurts to have previous managers or co-workers endorse your abilities! They will only help to continue building your online professional repertoire.
Information courtesy of: The Duke Association for Business Oriented Women
Caroline Herrmann is a junior at Duke University majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in German Studies. She is working on a Markets & Management Studies certificate. Her goal is to attend business school and she would love to work in marketing or consulting in the United States or Europe. She was a part of the first Forté College Leadership Conference and can be found on Twitter at @caroooline717.