The time has arrived — you’re ready to launch the next phase of your career. You’ve updated your resume and dug out your interview attire, but what have you done to polish your social media presence?
According to a recent survey of the Ivy Exec community, 45% of hiring managers and HR professionals admit that they “always” check a candidate’s social media profiles, while another 30% say that they “sometimes” look. That means three quarters of prospective employers are likely to see your online presence at some point in the hiring process!
With odds like those, you can’t afford to ignore your online presence. You have to optimize your presence so it reflects the professional you are right now and the future you want for yourself. In this guide, we’ll show you how to revitalize and build out your online presence to succeed in a competitive job market.
Polish Your Social Media Presence For Your Job Search
Refresh your headshot
You have probably made your first impression long before you’ve even talked to a potential employer through your LinkedIn profile. Your photograph is particularly important here. On LinkedIn alone, members who include a photo receive up to 21 times more profile views and 36 more messages. Users with a professionally photographed headshot receive 14 times more views. Furthermore, since 65% of respondents to our own survey say that they look at your profile before your interview, it’s important to avoid creating confusion or even surprise when you walk in and meet in person for the first time.
A blurry or low-quality photo could be harmful to your professional reputation. With 60% of the hiring managers we surveyed saying that “personal presentation” could make them reconsider a candidate – significantly more than the 20% who said political views or even the 30% who said cultural fit would give them hesitation. If you can, try to find a professional photographer with experience in business and corporate headshots. If this isn’t feasible, you can still take a great photo at home using your smartphone. Simply use a clean and bare background, like a white wall, and use a free editing app such as Snapseed to brighten and crisp up your photo.
An up-to-date professional headshot is a multi-purpose digital asset. You can use it on social media, your website, blog, brochures, email marketing, publications you submit to, and even on your instant messaging apps like Skype. To promote a professional image that is a polished and accurate representation of the professional you are right now, it’s generally recommended to update your photo at least every 2 years.
Engage tactfully on your social media profiles
Social media puts your professional brand on a center stage. According to SHRM, 84 percent of organizations use social media to actively recruit candidates. Those who aren’t using it for pure recruitment, are still using it to get a sense of who you are as a candidate. BusinessNewsDaily reports that nearly half (47 percent) of employers said they wouldn’t call a person in for an interview if they can’t find them online. Over a quarter said it’s because they like to gather more information before calling a candidate, and 20 percent say it’s because they expect candidates to have an online presence.
For your job search, focus on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest typically have more personal uses, so we suggest making them private. If you post YouTube videos beyond the scope of your professional life, you should consider making those private as well. Google yourself to see what comes up and what you need to remove. When we asked hiring managers, respondents consistently said that a lack of professionalism or inappropriate content on a candidate’s social media would make them reconsider hiring that person.
However, don’t be afraid to show the best parts of your personality. When recruiters use social media to get a sense of the real you, they look for demonstrations of your interests in your field or industry, LinkedIn recommendations, and any charitable or community activities that you’re involved in. These are characteristics of a passionate, engaged, and likeable employee. This is an especially important consideration for those looking to pivot in their career.
Don’t forget that a major part of putting your best foot forward online is making it easy for the right people to find you. This means optimizing your social platforms like LinkedIn so you can get discovered. For example, your headline should be concise with keywords in it, making it easier to find your area of specialization. It’s also critical that your ‘Summary’ section is keyword-rich. Editing your URL to show your name, ex: “jane-smith” will go a long way in making you discoverable on Google or other search engines. It’s also important to list your skills and get endorsed for them; the more others endorse you, the more likely you’ll come up in searches when someone is searching for those particular skills.
Get published to establish authority in your field
Getting published in a reputable publication can do wonders for your personal brand, and consequentially, your career. It demonstrates that you are a thought leader in your industry and establishes your credibility in your marketplace. Also, an article in an online publication with your byline exposes you to new audiences, improve search results for your name, and make people want to connect with you and buy into your brand.
Start with jotting down and researching the publications you’re interested in targeting. Check out what kind of articles they accept and publish. Make a note of the subject matter, the tone, length, and what kind of sources they infer. Note the submission guidelines they require. Then it’s time to craft a pitch that’s tailored specifically for the audience of that publication. One effective strategy is to create a pitch that resembles the introduction of an article. For example, “X percent of organizations feel like they don’t make the most of their data. According to study Y,” etc. This is a way to show off the quality of your idea and your expertise in the subject matter, not just promoting yourself as a writer. Including a link to your website or portfolio with relevant clips is essential so the editor can gauge your ability.
After it’s published, get to work promoting it, adding it to your LinkedIn, and displaying it among your other projects. Who knows? A recruiter or hiring manager may read it and decide that they have to have you on their team.
When we asked hiring managers and HR professionals whether social media presence was likely to influence their decisions, 90% said that it could have an effect. At that rate, you cannot afford to ignore or shortchange your digital audit and update. Your digital presence is an extension of your personal brand that you need to optimize to show you in the best possible life. We’ve talked about the different facets of your online brand you need to update, edit, and/or add to. Implement these tips and best practices to springboard you into a productive job search.
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