With the increasing popularity of social media, it’s no surprise that many hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals are beginning to take a candidate’s online presence very seriously. We’ve been heading this way for years. Ever since Facebook became popular, young graduates have been counseled to purge their public-facing profile of all evidence of post-secondary debauchery in order to secure their first professional job. Despite learning that lesson in their early 20s, many people today are failing to take advantage of their online presence in their job hunt.
Today, we’re here to tell you that it isn’t enough to simply scrub your online presence of compromising photos. A successful job search involves leveraging your online presence, and making it work for you.
If you’re actively looking for a job, every aspect of your online presence should be supporting that goal, and making it clear to HR departments and managers why you’d be a great fit.
Why your online presence matters
Since the advent of online job sites, postings get so many resumes that approximately 75% of them are discarded before they ever reach a human being. The software that companies use to do this is called applicant tracking systems (LINK to last blog) and it’s a great way to sort through hundreds or even thousands of resumes at a time, pulling out only the ones that fit the pre-determined criteria.
Many successful job hunters have found that the easiest way to beat applicant tracking systems is simply to not go through them in the first place. In 2019, a survey of 1,500 American professionals found that 35% found jobs through social media, with a further 37% finding jobs through their professional network.
When you apply to a job through a professional contact or colleague, this typically fast-tracks your resume to the top of the pile, and initiates a personal connection that wouldn’t have been there if you’d simply applied cold to a job posting.
By making connections, you can draw on a large network of friends, colleagues, and online connections to help you find your next job. To do this, your online presence on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, or even Instagram should be advertising your credentials, as well as your desired position and current career objectives.
Your online presence matters when it comes to making these critical connections, and will continue to be a source of information for recruiters and hiring staff. You need to be putting your best foot forward.
How to improve your online presence for a job hunt
If you’re planning on looking for a new job at any point in the future, you need to optimize and improve your online presence so it reflects your desired outcome.
Here are some tips for making your online presence completely job search-friendly.
Improve & optimize your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is a critical tool for job hunting and making professional connections. People joke about it being ‘Work Facebook’, but it’s really so much more than a social network. It gives users the opportunity to network with professional contacts, while serving as both a job site and a place to host a resume and portfolio showcasing your career accomplishments.
Before you begin applying anywhere, make sure your LinkedIn profile is fully fleshed out with all the details of your employment history and work-related accomplishments. Once you’ve done that, add in visual elements like a warm and professional headshot, and news snippets if you’ve been published or featured in any media.
LinkedIn also saves all of your likes, comments, and shared posts in the Activity tab. This is a great way to show potential employers that you’re active in the industry, and engaged in the kind of forward-thinking thought leadership that is so appealing to hiring managers.
Adjust your bios on social media like Twitter & Instagram
Once you’ve set up your LinkedIn profile, you may be tempted to call it a day. After all, with one social media site so focused on work and employment, why would hiring managers look elsewhere?
If you’re actively looking for a job, every aspect of your online presence needs to be showcasing how great a fit you’d be for your chosen position. This extends to public-facing aspects of other social media sites, like your Twitter or Instagram bio.
It doesn’t need to be overt but your profile should subtly showcase your credentials. Think more along the lines of “RISD Graduate ’15, looking for new opportunities to showcase graphic design skills” rather than “Please hire me, graphic design firms!”
Showcase your accomplishments
At its heart, social media is a place for people to showcase their lives- either through brief messages, photos, videos, or a combination of all three. If you have a public-facing profile, it’s fair to assume that at any point hiring managers could be checking out your posts and adding the knowledge they gain to the informal catalogue of information they’re keeping on you.
Instead of thinking of social media as a way to just showcase your life, think about it as a way to show off your career accomplishments as well. If you’re uncomfortable doing this on a profile viewed by your friends and family, set up a professional page where you can post your accomplishments, showcase your career-related skills, and network with other people from your field.
Consider a personal website
A great way to show that you take your career seriously is to set up a personal website. It’s really easy to do, and can help point people to the right place when they Google your name. It gives you a place to post your bio, resume, portfolio, and contact information, making it a lot easier for recruiters and hiring managers to learn everything there is to know about you quickly and easily.
A personal website shows that you take the job hunt seriously, and are willing to put the time in to make it easier for hiring staff and recruiters to find your information.
Post useful information
The best way to stand out online and on social media isn’t to focus on yourself and your accomplishments- no matter how remarkable. The easiest way that you can attract attention and get people interested in what you have to say is if you post information that other people find useful.
This has never been clearer than during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Companies were so frantic that they leveraged all of their social networks and email lists to publish inane posts and emails about how they were ‘handling the crisis’. At best, the posts acknowledged the anxious mood and showcased how they were helping customers. At worst, the posts appeared tone-deaf and were obviously taking advantage of the situation to increase awareness of their brand.
Instead of engaging in mindless self-promotion, take some time and plan out posts on your website or social media channels that would be useful to others. This shows leadership and initiative, two appealing qualities that really make you stand out from the crowd.
Stand out from the crowd
There are lots of ways to continually boost your online presence so you stand out from the crowd. If you’re tired of endlessly scrolling through the same LinkedIn job postings, contact Press & Associates. We can help you tailor a job search that puts you on track to meet career goals, then leverage our professional networks to give you access to unique opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.
Contact us today to get started with a personalized career consultation.