4 Social Media Habits You Need to Make Not Break

By Val Matta

March 18, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

So you Googled “social media job search tips” and your search led you here. What advice are you expecting to find? Suggestions on what professional groups to join on LinkedIn? Reasons to delete every photo of you enjoying a drink on the weekend? Ways to know if a friend request is from an employer trying to find a reason not to hire you? Guess what? That’s all old news.

Social media has become such a huge part of our lives that there’s a tendency for us to not recognize how much it’s changing—especially when it comes to the ever evolving job search. In the 2015 Jobvite Recruiter Nation survey, 92 percent of recruiters said they are turning to more and more social media platforms as tools for recruiting talent. Recruiters and potential employers are looking at more than just your LinkedIn profile. Now, a lot more than questionable photos from Carl’s bachelor party can make them think twice about hiring you. But that doesn’t mean you need to swear off all social media in order to land your dream job. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s about finding a balance between staying professional and true to yourself. Here are four social media habits of successful job seekers:

1. Piece together the whole picture

Just like you use Instagram and Twitter differently, employers and recruiters look at different profiles for different information about you. Obviously, your LinkedIn profile is the primary place they look for evidence of your professional history and skill set. Your other social media profiles fill in the rest of the puzzle pieces of who you are. Make sure that all your sites fit seamlessly together by recognizing how they play into the big picture.

The 2014 Recruiter Nation survey by Jobvite found that 46 percent of recruiters look to Facebook for signs of cultural fit and 35 percent look for mutual connections. Unlike LinkedIn, Facebook is about your life outside of work: what you’re interested in, how you spend your time and who you’re friends with. Make sure your posts on Facebook are a good indication of your personality and values.

Twitter, on the other hand, can be a good indicator of how you communicate with others. Remember, just because celebrities start weekly feuds on Twitter, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you. Employers expect you to share your opinions in your tweets, but they don’t want to see harsh or ignorant tweets, no matter how much you disagree with someone else’s opinion.

While we’re on the subject of communication skills, use correct spelling and grammar on all social media. A 2015 poll from Dictionary.com found that across all age groups, most people are annoyed by typos and grammatical errors on social media. Even if typing “U” instead of “you” saves you half a second, is it worth seeming unprofessional?

2. Don’t play hide and seek

Job seekers who are worried about employers finding something inappropriate on their social media profiles instinctively make them completely private and unsearchable. However, a 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that 35 percent of employers would be less likely to hire a candidate they can’t find online. Your resume already gives employers your basic professional history and contact information, but they’re turning to social media to find out more about your character and personality. If they can’t find or view your social media profiles, it can be a sign that you have something to hide. Let employers find out more about you through your social media by including links in your professional email signatures or on your business cards. Also, make it easy for them to go from your LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter, etc. by providing links from one platform to another.

3. Always post like a job seeker

When young people decide to start applying for jobs, the first thing they do is head to their social media profiles and “clean up”. They delete, or make private, photos and posts that might seem unprofessional. Sure, potential employers won’t see these posts, but the rest of your professional network already has. Past co-workers and other professional connections on social media won’t forget compromising posts just because you deleted them. These are the people you list as references. They may choose to bring up that post venting about your old co-workers, but it has likely affected their professional opinion of you. Of course, we’re all human and we make social media mistakes. Balance your online presence out by also posting photos of you doing community service, posts recognizing your co-workers’ success, and status updates about current projects you’re working on.

4. Make real connections

What about those “friends” you have that you’ve never really met? Check out their profiles and see what stands out to you. For example, you and Max might have a mutual friend, but you don’t know anything else about him. After looking at his Facebook, you discover he works in your industry, lives within 30 minutes of you, and also majored in Economics. So, you look him up on LinkedIn and discover he works at a company you’ve had your eye on for a job opening. You can also see his job history and have some idea of how he got to where he is. You follow his Twitter handle, read through the users he follows and find a few you’d like to follow yourself. Now, you consider reaching out to him to see if he’d like to meet up and swap stories and advice about your past experiences.

Doing a sweep through your contacts this way will not only give you stronger professional contacts as you make real connections, but also give you practice looking at a stranger’s profile like an employer might look at yours. Use that insight to strengthen your profiles and make them more accessible and attractive to those who might want to reach out to you. Thanks to the popularity of social media, many aspects of our lives have changed, including how we search for and land jobs. Does this create new challenges for job seekers? Yes, but with good social media habits, you can use your profiles to your advantage. What other social media habits do successful job seekers possess?

Val Matta

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and career centers.

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