With 3.03 billion people around the world actively using social media, it’s no surprise that social media is now a key part of the hiring process. Resumes, cover letters, references, and interviews are still central, but recruiters are also embracing social media to learn more about who candidates are beyond their curated professional personas. A survey conducted for CareerBuilder by Harris Poll found that 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates.
A smart, professional social media presence is essential for anyone applying for a job today. It can help you stand out from the pack, showcase your positive qualities that don’t fit elsewhere in an application, and even catch the attention of recruiters hunting for new talent.
To get the most from your social media profiles, follow these three tips:
1. Show Off Your Good Side
Think of your social media profile as your public resume. You want to convey a professional yet authentic image of yourself. Use your real name and a great profile picture. Selfies are out — period. Your profile picture is the first thing others see on your profile, so it’s important to make a good first impression.
Whether we like it or not, appearance matters. If you haven’t already, go to a photo studio and get a professional portrait done. If you’re sticking to a budget, have a friend take your photo. Cameras on today’s smartphones are pretty good, so you don’t need fancy equipment to get the job done.
Make sure to wear the right outfit for your photo. Dressing too casually may make you look immature or sloppy, but wearing a full suit may come off as stuffy and uptight. The key is to look put-together and convey competence.
2. Be Relevant
On social media, people share everything from vacation photos to interesting articles to quippy thoughts on the day’s news. As such, it’s an opportunity to build your personal brand and engage with others in your chosen field.
Recruiters love it when a potential hire’s feed includes relevant, quality content from credible publications and authoritative writers. Engage in conversations on Twitter about topics related to your career can also provide employers with insight into your point of view and way of thinking. Activities like these will show recruiters that you are well-rounded and care about your field.
That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of personal posts altogether, but you should consider creating distinct professional and personal accounts or posting personal content under very strict friends-only privacy settings. That said, some personal content is valuable because it provides employers with a glimpse of who you are outside of work. Photos of you with your weekend basketball team could demonstrate to a recruiter that you work well with others. And don’t be afraid to have fun with your feeds by adding appropriate gifs, memes, and photos!
3. Stay Positive and Humble
No one wants or needs another headache in their organization. You know that ex-colleague of yours who, no matter what, always wanted to be first, to be right, to be perfect? Don’t be that person.
If and when you share your opinion on social media, keep it positive. Stay away from heated debates. Employers want to know you can keep a cool head and listen to others. It’s also important to come across as well informed but not a know-it-all. Show that you treat others with respect and don’t stir up unnecessary conflict.
Before you embark on your next job search, comb through your social media accounts with the eye of a recruiter. Make sure there is no inappropriate content or red flags but plenty of content casting you as someone who has a lot to offer and would be a pleasure to work with.
All that said, different industries have different norms. For example, it’s more appropriate for a journalist to express heated opinions online than it is for an HR pro to do the same. Keep your industry’s unspoken rules in mind as your tweak your social media profiles.
Viorel Dudau is social media and content strategist at Dreamstime.