Employers and Social Media: How they Use it to Vet You, and How to Turn Your Profile into an Asset

Boss ScrutinizingWe’re all guilty of the occasional extended social media searching spree, whether it’s checking out a friend’s new partner or looking up how old classmates are doing. With so much social interaction now taking place online, it would be naive to think that prospective employers aren’t also turning to sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to perform what seem like social media background checks.

Your online profile can tell recruiters a great deal about what kind of person you are, which in turn will allow them to make judgments about what kind of employee you’re likely to be. If that thought is enough to strike fear into your heart, then it’s time to clean up your online act.

Everyone with a presence on any kind of social media site needs to take care when sharing information or personal details. With a little foresight, this doesn’t have to be the minefield it may initially seem. By paying more careful attention to subtle details, you can manipulate your profiles to work in your favor when it comes to career development.

Don’t forget that recruiters are people, not computers, and sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Using social media for job searches makes it much easier for you to get in touch with the right people. Are you two degrees away from a recruiter at your dream company via a friend of a friend? Time to be bold and see if you can ask for an introduction: a personal touch will always win out over cold calling.

Your online persona should represent the best aspects of you, so check and double-check that the information people can see is what you most want to get across. Stop tweeting what you had for breakfast and consider sharing relevant articles or insightful commentary on events in your field. Think of your social media page not as a photo album or repository for idle musings, but as a free full-page personal advertisement.

Your online presence can be an asset not only during the job hunt, but also beyond. Consider using your experience on social media sites to help you work more effectively. A study by Microsoft recently found that about 50% of employees across the globe believe that social tools at work increase productivity, and 40% of respondents also believed that they could also improve teamwork.

Turning yourself into a social media expert could even open up new career avenues, with plenty of businesses, especially start-ups, hiring someone specifically to look after and develop their online profiles. It’s worth scouting out the “big names” in your field, seeing what they do, and thinking about how you can learn from it and use it for your own benefit. Volunteering to skillfully manage a company’s social media accounts could give you the edge over competitors when it comes to getting a job, or even a promotion.

Just as businesses benefit from social media to sell their products, check up on feedback, and promote their idealized images, you too can start manipulating your online identity as a tool for success. Adapting your profile into an innovative résumé for the 21st century is one of the biggest, yet most overlooked, benefits of social media for individuals on their career paths.

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