How to Optimize Your Social Footprint to be Seen by Employers
Updated: Aug 28
If you are scouting for a new job in 2020 or beyond, it’s time to look at your social media accounts. In the ever-growing digital age, employers will focus further on the personal content you present. The resume has not been the sole deciding factor in getting candidates to the interview process for quite some time. A social media background check should be expected if they have any intention of having you on board. With so many people vying for the same position, it’s a heavily utilized tool employers use to sift through candidates who don’t match their values. As we adjust more to working remotely due to the pandemic, it would only make sense that these numbers would inflate. Employers want to get a grasp on who you are, and in the growing move to the digital space this is how they can get the strongest understanding of your identity. As the world continues to expand further into the online sector, your digital footprint becomes increasingly more important.
Sterling Talent Solutions, a noted recruitment agency specializing in background checks, conducted a study in 2017 which stated 30% of the world population has some degree of social media presence, with 64% of Canadians being a member of that statistic. Their research also stated that 90% of recruiters used social media to vet a candidate even before the interview stage that year. 51% of Canadian employers who research a candidate via their social media accounts state they’ve come across content that’s caused them to reject a candidate. This study was conducted 3 years ago, so it’s more than likely that these numbers have only increased.
What areas should you emphasize and eliminate? Every employer will have their own particular areas that they want to address, but there are general specifics that every hiring manager will like to look at. Established publications and services, like the Harvard Business Review, CareerBuilder.com and many others, have all noted that it’s more than likely an employer will look over a candidate’s social media presence. They are looking to find if anything you’ve posted has any relevance to expertise in that specific industry, if they can help understand your qualifications, any mutual connections you may have or even getting a general grasp of who you are as a person.
With so much emphasis on Instagram and posting pictures on FaceBook it’s likely they can get a strong judge of how you conduct yourself in a public setting. It’s similar to the “dress for the job you want” adage. Present pictures of someone they would want to see demonstrating their brand in and outside of the office.
Employers will seek out any videos you’ve made to get a strong understanding of how you conduct yourself, similar to when they research images. AI can be used as a screening tool on your videos to gather information to better determine who you are. Companies like HireVue have also developed software that can read your facial expressions and gestures to get a better feeling of your personality on a video call. This is likely to be more utilized as we shift to doing remote interviews. As long as you conduct yourself in all areas of self, professional and conference videos you will remain secure in their comb through your history. Use their research to your advantage, create videos where you demonstrate your skill sets, you can make it crystal clear that you have qualifications to produce the content that they need delivered. Collaborate on something in your wheelhouse that an employer would be impressed by, as this shows you work well in a team and can produce positive results.
Everything you write paints a picture of your voice and what kind of employee you will be. Text analysis technology analyses your messages and wording to create a candidate profile to assess your personality and where you lean on important topics. Your writing should be meticulous in constructing your online presence. This is how employers get the greatest understanding of your internal dialogue; so for every post you need to think if this is what your potential boss would be happy to read. Treat everything that you write like it will be reviewed by current and future employers.
Forbes suggests that you consistently have a presence on all of your social accounts about important causes you stand for and to voice your opinion on topics that align with the views of employers you wish to work for. Being active and passionate is very appealing to those who want to build a cohesive team. Putting yourself at the forefront of socially conscious topics is essential to presenting that you work well in a group of unique and experienced individuals. Being controversial can be damaging to getting your foot in the door for opportunities.
The professional persona is completely constructed by each and every individual. Only you have a say in what others can glean about you. The resume tells the story of what someone wants the employer to know, your social media accounts fill in the rest. An interview can also only tell so much, every interviewer is aware that they are not getting the full scope.
An almost countless number of candidates have eliminated their chances of getting hired thanks to something they’ve posted online. Posting a picture of being intoxicated, writing something crude or linking to something inappropriate have utterly ruined people’s chances of attaining employment. It’s something so simple to avoid, but this happens to a constant degree. You would be hard-pressed to find an employer who didn’t discard a resume for finding something distasteful on a potential candidate. Even posting something on someone else’s feed can be damaging; and it’s not that difficult to find. Everything is trackable in the digital age and things can last forever on the internet. A potential employer will not notify you if they see something they don’t approve of, they will simply move on. They will understand this as the individual you wish to portray to them. You don’t have to live in fear of posting anything, just be careful and it will not become a problem. Before you post anything, think for a moment on if it’s beneficial to post this in the current and future job market. Now is the best time to go through your social media history to look for items you’ve presented in the past that you think would be problematic for your present or hopeful positions.
Use social media to your advantage as well. Don’t just see it as a hindrance to your professional achievements, as it can be a useful tool to attaining your goals. If your resume can’t display everything you want it to, your online presence can catch the eye of employers. Not just LinkedIn, but Twitter, FaceBook and Instagram can develop your professional persona.
Show that you’re knowledgeable in your industry
Employers want proof that you have the experience you present in your resume, social media can be the tool to do that. Look at what is posted by companies that you want to work for. Post similar things in response to what they are putting out, but use the addition of your particular expertise to establish your personal skill set. Look at what would be most appealing to them, would it be writing long-form blogs, designing something elaborate or making great video content. Find ways to present your unique skills and show that you have a passion and desire in that field.
Establish training experience and certifications
Present your broad and niche accomplishments on your social handles. You can easily post them on LinkedIn, but also insert them in your posts on the other platforms. It’s important to not appear like your showing off, but that continuing your education and training is important to you. Regardless of when you completed it, make it noticed. This will also encourage you to go out to develop more skills to impress future employers even further.
Using social media to link to online portfolios
Having your profile accessible immediately in all of your social media profiles will work to your advantage. This will display that your career and professional development is of great importance to you. You are not just limited to text on a resume, you can make everything you’re proud of tangible to the hiring manager. There is no limit to what you can put out there, it can be the entire scope of your achievements. This shows off that you are proud and passionate about your work, and that you want the world to see it.
The best time to start is always sooner rather than later. The more content you have to present, the more appealing you are as a candidate. If you are unemployed due to the pandemic, use this free time to capitalize on building up a more dynamic presence. Construct an image of someone that you think an employer would be ecstatic to have on board.
In the post-COVID world, a candidate’s digital footprint will be a further area of focus. Many businesses have already adapted to increased remote work, and this will only trend further. Social media will continue to follow as a vital element to the screening process. Before you begin job hunting you want to determine if this is the image that you want the employer to see beside your resume.