Turns Out You Can Score A Job Through Social Media
Are you the type of person that carefully curates your Instagram grid with a pastel colour theme, not too many flatlays in a row and filters that don’t look like you’ve used filters? Or are you more the kind that over-uses Snapchat on nights out with your mates, sending 20 snaps of your ability to ‘get low’ in a single night? No matter what kind of social media user you are, one thing is certain: a growing number of employers and headhunters are using your social media presence to decide whether you’re suitable for a job you’ve applied for, or one they’re headhunting for.
Many of us use social media as a way to define our ‘personal brand’ – the image we send out into the world is the type of person we’d like them to think we are. But how can you leverage that into a job? And what are the big no-nos employers look out for when it comes to your social media profile?
They’re already checking your socials
Sian Havard worked as a recruiter, finding high-level staff for companies such as Google and Facebook in countries as far flung as Europe, the Middle East, the US and Asia. Since returning to Australia she has founded Milkshake Group, where she helps people create resumes, ace their interviews, make career changes and, most importantly, create world-class social profiles.
In the course of her recruiting career she has used social media in a number of different ways to find perfect candidates.
“If someone applies for a job and they have listed their Twitter handle on their resume, I always check it,” she says. “Including social media account information on a resume is a great opportunity for people to demonstrate thought leadership in their area – for instance, if they are a software developer and frequently post about new tech products, their views on them, suggest solutions for problems – this really adds to their overall attractiveness as a candidate.”
And while many of us have a Linkedin profile, it’s pretty common to let keeping it up-to-date slip through the cracks in favour of taking a perfect Instagram photo or conjuring up a witty Tweet. But, given its purpose as a purely career-focused platform, it’s perhaps one of the most important profiles to regularly maintain.
“In one of my previous positions I hired 30 people into diverse roles and offices all around the world purely by searching LinkedIn for relevant experience, locating their profile, and contacting them about the job opportunity,” says Sian. “These people all got wonderful new jobs at a great company simply by having an up to date LinkedIn profile.”
It’s also a good idea to let a future employer know about any personal blogs or social media profiles you may have when applying for a job, says Sian.
“I once hired for a team which was responsible for reaching out to and engaging bloggers around the world,” she says. “The applicants who included links to their own blogs or YouTube channels in their applications were able to impress me more than those who didn’t. Including social profile links in their application demonstrated their understanding of the type of role they’d be doing and made me confident they’d be credible when working with the bloggers they would be approaching in the role.”
Blogging your way to success
Leveraging a personal blog into paid work isn’t a new phenomenon. Take, for example, fashion blogger Nicole Warne, aka Gary Pepper Girl. She built her blog up from an online vintage marketplace into one of the most popular fashion blogs in the world. It would make sense, then, that other companies would come knocking to get her to do the same for them. In 2015 it was announced that she would be bringing her dab, very elegant hands to the newly-created role of digital consultant at Qantas. She offers the company the same strategic expertise, skill at building social media audiences and, of course, profile that she has brought to her own blog. Sure, it’s an extreme example, but if you can demonstrate any kind of strategic skill and thought online in a way that others can’t, it’s sure to work in your favour.
So what platforms do recruiters look at the most? It depends on the job but, says Sian, Linkedin is her number one.
“LinkedIn is still number one for me, followed by Twitter if the person’s handle is listed on their resume,” she says. “Twitter and Facebook are quite handy for recruiters, as you can run searches using hashtags to identify individuals posting about those topics which might lead to discovering relevant candidates you can approach about job opportunities.”
Leah Campbell, an operations manager at an international photography company, also uses Facebook to discover more about potential applicants than what is included in their CV.
She says she looks for the following:
“How they communicate with other friends on social media – are they polite or swearing? Do they speak badly about employers and previous companies? And what activities do they like; do they like team sports or will they travel a lot – will they be a team player or constantly unavailable for work?”
Other things Leah looks for is whether potential candidates participate in racist activities, post crude images (how will their behaviour and dress reflect on the company?) and whether there are too many photos of the candidate out drinking – she doesn’t want them to show up to work hungover every second day.
Sian also has a list of no-nos that she looks our for:
“On LinkedIn the same rules apply as a resume – spelling and grammatical errors will rule someone out,” she says. “I’ve seen cases where someone has spelled their own current role title incorrectly on LinkedIn which gives a poor first impression. On Twitter seeing someone’s feed full of trolling activities, or offensive behaviour such as racism, sexism or swearing would also rule someone out – as if they are willing to do this publicly, it casts doubt on whether they would do this in the workplace, too. A good social media profile is tailored to the audience, full of relevant, engaging content, and reflects on what that person would be like as an employee.”
So now you know what not to do on social media, how can you leverage your profile to appeal to employers?
“A number of companies are now utilising Snapchat to recruit, by setting challenges for people to create application content using the platform, and I expect that to increase,” says Sian. “There was a great case in the USA where someone who wanted a job at a particular company created a custom filter on Snapchat and got in touch with the company via Instagram to show them what he’d done – and they ended up hiring him.”
“There are similar opportunities to impress available on Instagram and Pinterest – so people should be aware of not only the potential for prospective employers to discover content they’ve shared which could sabotage their job search, but also the opportunity for company recruiters to come across highly relevant content and want to get in touch with the person about job opportunities if they are impressed,” says Sian.
“Big brands often have a Facebook page, and you can usually send the team or person manning the page a message on Facebook Messenger enquiring about anything, including jobs.
“Twitter is a great platform to demonstrate thought leadership, by sharing your blog posts and getting involved in relevant conversations.”
Social media dos
- Tailor your social media profiles to the job you want. Looking for an interior design job? Fill your Instagram and Pinterest pages with beautiful interiors, including any you have designed yourself. Hoping to work in government? Perhaps you should be Tweeting about the latest policy changes or what occurred in Parliament on any given day.
- Be active. You don’t have to be across every social platform out there. Pick a few and stick to them. If you’re active on social media it indicates that you are an engaged person, and that you have a wherewithal that you will also apply to a job.
- Don’t be a passive observer. Comment on relevant photos on Instagram, use hashtags and engage in conversations on Twitter, and make public any relevant posts on your Facebook page.
- Share your work. Promote yourself by using social media to promote your work. If you’re a writer, take photos of your latest article to put on Instagram. Worked on a marketing campaign you’re proud of? Share it on Instagram. Join Facebook groups for the profession you’re in and let them know the good work you’re doing.
Social media don’ts
- Don’t troll. If you’re constantly a negative Nelly on social media, potential employers are going to think you’re not going to work well in a team. Sure, have discussions, but never make them personal. For jobs where having a political opinion isn’t really appropriate, try not to get too upset in public about Donald Trump’s presidency or cuts to penalty rates.
- Don’t bitch. Likewise, if you’ve left your job, been fired, or even just had a difficult customer, don’t complain about your employer or the customer online. This is incredibly unprofessional, and chances are your potential employer won’t know why you actually left your job, or if what you’re saying is true. You’re better off keeping mum.
- Don’t make your Facebook profile public. Sure, you might be careful about what you’re posting, but one too many tags in bad photos, or your mum oversharing wine memes probably won’t reflect so well on you.
- Revealing pics. For men and women alike, you’re better off leaving them offline.
Che-Marie is a London-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Australian Gourmet Traveller, Collective Hub and Virgin Australia Voyeur among others. Follow her travels on Instagram @chemariet