Ninety-two percent of companies peruse job seekers’ social media profiles when recruiting. If you’re looking for work in pretty much any field, you no longer have an excuse for avoiding Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+: if you want a job, you should be on social media.
You need to do more than just show up on the Web, of course: you need to maintain your social media presence, sharing content, tweets, and status updates that make you look like someone your prospective employers would want to hire.
What Not to Do
You’d be surprised at how many obvious mistakes job seekers make on their social media profiles. Hiring managers report that three things they hate seeing on applicants’ social media profiles are references to drugs and alcohol (41% say this as a strike against a potential candidate), inappropriate images (40%), and poor communication skills (29%). Whether employers can discriminate on the basis of social media is up for debate, but employers will see what you put out there. Stories abound of people whose poor use of social media got them fired — and let’s be honest: some of them were asking for it.
While it’s tempting to take an Instagram selfie of you and your friends surrounded by bottles of vodka at your apartment after a night out, it’s probably a bad idea to post that picture to everyone you know when you’re looking to get hired. Keeping drugs off your social media profile should be a no-brainer too! Inappropriate images may also include some of the more … risqué pictures you’ve laughed at on the Internet, as well as similarly PG-13 pictures of yourself that you might not want everyone to see.
And if you like to get your status updates out there as fast as possible and use texting language to do so, you’re better off forming proper sentences on your presentable social media profiles until you get hired.
Think that’s too much maintenance to perform on a part of the Web where you should feel free to be yourself? Consider that a bad hire can cost a company up to $50,000, depending on the job. When companies are looking to hire, they’re looking for the best. Most HR professionals can’t afford to take a risk on someone who’s cavalier about what they post on social media.
The Power of Networking
If you already have a perfectly hirable social media profile, that’s great! Now use it.
Forty percent of job postings are nabbed by employee referrals: people that already know someone working at the company. This means that getting to know people who work for your potential employer(s) may help you land the job(s) you’re looking for.
Networking through your social media profile is easier than you might think. If you’re looking for a job in a particular field, be sure to follow or connect with lots of people who work in that field. When they post something that gets people talking, be sure to join the conversation; comment on the link/article/idea they’re talking about, make a quick joke about it (nothing too aggressive, though), or ask a question. If they don’t reply or like your post, that’s fine — keep trying every once in a while. There’s a good chance that eventually, something you say will stick, and they’ll say something back. Congrats! You’ve just networked.
If an employer looks at your profile and sees that you’re actively engaging with people in your field, they’re more likely to remember your name when sifting through applications.
Be Talkative, Be Interesting
Just having a social media profile isn’t enough to guarantee that you’ll get hired. Roughly half of all job seekers use social media on a daily basis, so you need to stand out. If your profile is boring — nothing but quotes, sayings, and links that aren’t amusing or relevant to your field — you’re far more likely to get glossed over by potential employers.
If you want to catch an employer’s eye, you should keep your social media profile busy: post pictures of what you’re doing (again: nothing inappropriate), jokes or funny observations you came up with yourself, and other bits that will let people know you’re a cool and interesting person. Have work you’re proud of? Post it on networks beyond LinkedIn, like Slideshare, Behance, DeviantArt, StackOverflow, and Github. There are plenty of others, too!