Ready, Set, Switch — Shape Up Your Social Media


If you’re a job seeker who isn’t on social media, you might as well not exist.

That’s a harsh statement, but in today’s technology-based world, there’s a basic expectation that you’re at least mildly engaged online, especially in the business world. Clients, employers, network contacts and even social acquaintances want to connect with you virtually.

So if you’ve been resisting social media, now is the time to get in the game, especially if you’re in a job search. You don’t need to go so far as to consult your teenager about the latest Apps, but there are a few foundational things that will help significantly.

First, the “why:”

  • Working your network. Contacts and referrals continue to be the best source for finding new employment opportunitiesand it’s pretty difficult to network if you’re not on LinkedIn when over 500,000,000 other people are. While you may be well-connected in your local geography, networking crosses global boundaries now, and the internet enables you to easily access that world. Don’t limit your reach.
  • Information sharing. Over 90% of companies reported using social media in their recruiting and hiring in efforts. While LinkedIn was by far the top online site, Facebook and Twitter are gaining speed. Some recruiters use the tools to research candidates, while others use them as vehicles for posting openings and sharing updates. If you’re not following, you’re missing out. Additionally, the Society for Human Resource Management found that 35% of employers were less likely to interview candidates they could not find online.
  • Getting recruited. Passive hiring is on the rise according to 2018 hiring trends, and it’s hard to be “found” if you’re not active online. To be competitive, you need to go beyond the basic profile. Your online presence needs to be intentional, showcasing your brand and demonstrating qualities that are attractive to your target audience. The Undercover Recruiter recently reported that passive candidates are 120% more likely to want to make a positive impact on their new organization. With pressure to find stellar talent, recruiters are recognizing this and prefer to find YOU. They can’t do that if your profile doesn’t exist or reflects who you were five years ago.

Now the “how:”

  • ReconnaissanceGoogle yourself. Find out what comes up when you search for your name online. Is it a professional, updated LinkedIn profile at the top of the results list, or a DUI mug shot of someone who shares your name?Also, check your social media sites for questionable content and clean up photos or old posts that are not reflective of your professional brand. Even if your pages are “private,” chances are one of your contacts is connected to your new employer in some way. The world is getting smaller and that provocative photo at your friend’s wedding in Vegas may have been hilarious at the time, but not at all impressive to a potential employer. In fact, 55% of employers admitted to reconsidering a candidate after what they found online.
  • Rebranding. Dust off your LinkedIn and ensure it reflects your current skills, interests, and accomplishments. Is it time for a new photo? Have you been remiss in connecting with new people you’ve met in the last few months (don’t forget the power of 2nd level contacts!). Is your profile linked to an old company you used to work for or do you include dates that make it easy to calculate your age when you’d rather not publicize it? You don’t need to, nor should you, include everything about yourself online. However, a few well-placed accomplishments and a descriptive summary will take you far. Bonus: A study by Jobvite showed that 65% of employers who noticed volunteer or charity work on prospective candidates profiles viewed them more favorably. 
  • RepurposeCreate a strategy to get active online to expand your brand professionally. Create a personal webpage, blog, or company page. If you’ve shied away from these strategies in the past, you might be surprised at how easy (and inexpensive) these things are today. If you’re not ready for that, follow influencers online whose work reflects your value and interests, and then repost their content with your network, sharing your insights. Also, check your daily notifications for anniversaries, birthdays or announcements about your network, which are easy ways to stay in touch. Create Google Alerts that do the heavy lifting for you by bringing relevant information directly to your inbox.

If you still long for a life before texting and Twitter, you’re definitely not alone. However, these are the rules of engagement in today’s job search, so find a balance that works for you and get in the game. A job search is tough enough – why not tip the odds in your favor?

Happy hunting!

I started my corporate career as a recruiter, and over the past two decades have been helping job seekers attain great roles from the “other side of the desk” as a career coach. A Licensed Psychologist and Career Director for the Wharton MBA Program for Executives, I coach s…


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