Like it or not, and out of your control, before inviting you for an interview employers will scrutinize your digital footprint to see what you leave on social media platforms, online communities, and forums.
Digital footprints are double-edged swords. Not having any social media presence or what can be considered a “bare minimum,” or “static” presence is a red flag. On the other hand, having an overly robust social media presence can appear to be flamboyant and narcissistic.
The standard advice is to not overshare on social media. However, what you share, particularly while actively looking for a new job, can impress, and therefore positively influence, employers and recruiters. According to the research, the top three items’ employers and recruiters like to see when researching a candidate’s social media presence are:
- Written and/or design work
- Engagement in volunteering, mentoring and non-profits
- Mutual connections
The overarching theme: Is the candidate sharing to brag, or are they sharing to inform, educate and teach? In other words, is the candidate using social media to present themselves as an SME (Subject Matter Expert) within their field or industry?
The key, which is an art, is to share content that will likely have the viewer judge you positively. (Human nature being what it is, there’s no guarantee how you’ll be judged.) Since social norms are constantly shifting, how a person’s social media is judged also changes. An example of ever-changing social media taboos is selfies. Not long ago, selfies were viewed as being self-centred; today, they’re not viewed that way.
Expect employers to search your social media for:
- Posts about your workplace and your achievements.
- Posts about your personal life.
- Post regarding topics do you seem to have a passion for.
- Comments you’re leaving.
- What you’re sharing, retweeting, and liking.
- Blogs, articles, and posts you’ve written.
The key is to really believe in what you are saying (posting) and doing (pictures, videos). Avoid using profanity, name-calling, insulting, being deliberately offensive or controversial. (Being authentic is controversial enough.)
I admit that there are things I post that may turn off potential employers and recruiters. However, I accept the consequences of my believing in something and possibly offending a prospective employer, which is never my intention. If that’s the case, then that company isn’t likely to be a fit for me.
My recommendation is, to be honest, respectful and show a glass-half-full, optimistic approach.
Let’s look at the three items I mentioned employers and recruiters like to see and how you can incorporate them into your social media.
Written and/or design work
In 2021 successful job hunting requires having a LinkedIn profile that’s current and optimized. On your LinkedIn profile, park and share documents, reports, presentations, links to articles you’ve written and awards you’ve received.
Keep in mind: Employers will read through your LinkedIn profile before deciding whether to schedule an interview with you.
Engaged in volunteering and mentoring
On Instagram and Facebook, share photos of yourself volunteering at the local food bank, doing fundraising work or participating in a ‘run for a cure’ marathon. This shows you’re community-minded and which causes are close to your heart.
Who you know and who knows you greatly influences your job search and career progression success. As much as it may offend some, human beings are much more comfortable being around people they have a direct or mutual connection with. Commonalities ease the creation of and are the foundation of solid relationships. Therefore, the advice I give most often to job seekers: “Search for your tribe!” Making finding where you belong a priority is the best compass a job seeker can use.
Use LinkedIn to reach out and connect with people within your city, region, field and industry. Connect with people whom you’ve worked with or went to school with. Engage (e.g., comment on posts, ask questions) with people who can help you in your job search and career. Once you connect with someone on LinkedIn, be sure to do so on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. (Assuming they have accounts on these platforms.) Yes, I’m advising you to get in people’s faces letting them know you exist and what you can offer as an employee.
Your social media activity can significantly positively impact your job search, including shorting its length. When job hunting, you want to use your digital footprint to your advantage. Therefore, remain focused on communicating your attributes to create a confident and employer-appealing digital footprint.