Can social media help your quest for employment?

When discussing social media as it relates to gaining employment, the conversation (as evidenced by prior postings on this blog, class discussion, and my own workplace discussions) usually leans in the direction of employers using Facebook to weed out poor candidates. From party photos to foul language, Facebook has the potential to be home to evidence of a personal life that can make or break an employment opportunity. 

However, CollegianCentral reporter Maddie Buxton turned the idea on its metaphorical head. The article titled “Using social media to get you a job” interviews students and a professor who acknowledge the need to keep certain items under wraps on social media, but that it can also be used to grant an applicant a competitive advantage. “Build a profile that shows positive things that you care about, such as giving back to the community,” says CSU professor Todd Donovan. While I am not currently seeking to change employment – reading this article has made me take a “mental inventory” of what I can display on Facebook (and Twitter, to a lesser extent) to give me a competitive advantage when applying for future employment. 

Rachel Chan, a business student, emphasizes the benefits of having a LinkedIn account – it can “provide employers with additional information that may not be on your resume.” LinkedIn endorsements cannot be featured on a resume – they are specially written for you by past employers who have taken time out of their respective schedules to write said endorsements (when, of course, they actually do come from employers). LinkedIn groups display your various (and well-rounded) associations. 

However, the article does return to the theme of ensuring that “evidence” of anything less than positive should be kept hidden from social media; Professor Donovan ends the article with, “If you have questionable things on your social media sites, it could eliminate you.” Buxton also interviews Marissa West, a marketing manager for a car dealership; she indicates that while she “(doesn’t) feel that social media is always a good representation of someone,” she will search for evidence of poor personal values on social media if she gets mixed feelings about a candidate during an interview. 

The article is evidence to support the claim that our overall media landscape is growing more reliant on social media. It is more common to find an applicant who uses social media than one who does not use at least Facebook. Not utilizing LinkedIn as a platform can appear to an employer as though a candidate is not keeping up with social media. However, I am deciding if I find it unfair that a company uses social media as a hiring factor in this hypothetical situation – the company heads are still stuck in the mentality that social media is not an important company publicity tool, and leave the task of maintaining whatever social presence exists to the “nearest young person.” Would it not be hypocritical for that employer to turn around and not allow a candidate a job opportunity based on evidence of poor values found on their social media sites? I am not citing any particular example, but I would not be surprised to find out that such a situation exists within a company. 

What are some of your suggestions for publishing “employer-positive” content on social media sites, to the point where it can actually work to your advantage when applying for jobs? 

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4 thoughts on “Can social media help your quest for employment?

  1. As I was reading this article, I was trying to think about how I would use Facebook and linked in to my advantage when looking for a job. I realized that first of all you need to maintain an updated profile that does not contain any spelling mistakes or incomplete sentences. Then I started thinking about what other things you could add to your profile that would be considered positive employer information. I thought about my attorney avvo profile, which allows you to post articles you authored, speaking engagements, membership positions and awards. Why not tailor your profile to contain more positive information and different information than your resume. Your profile can be a lot longer than your resume, so why not take advantage of that. If you attend a conference, it probably would not show up on your resume. But why not put it on your social media profile?

  2. After reading this article, the first thing I did was going to my LinkedIn and updated my information. From the employer side, I think social media is a good place to get more information of your future employee. It’s a platform where you can know how this person get along with others, his or her habit, interest and value. Social media is an information channel, but employers cannot depend too much on it, as you may get biased view about that person. As an employee, I agree that we should manage our Facebook and LinkedIn page, posting photos that you look positive and nice, posting proper comments, joining good groups, sharing useful information. I don’t expect all of those will add points to me, at least they will not bring me negative effects.

  3. I definitely think that as social media becomes more and more prominent in our lives, our online presence is becoming something that’s expected than optional. We are seeing more recruiters searching for talent on the professional networks such as LinkedIn. The reason behind it is obvious, you can probably get more information from a 5 min evaluation of someone’s profile than a 20min interview. There you can see the skill set of the potential candidate, their previous work experience, hobbies/associations and most importantly, what previous employer/co-workers have to say about them. Therefore, i definitely agree that a complete and updated LinkedIn profile is undoubtedly necessary these days. It gives your more credibility.
    It’s indeed a powerful tool to build one’s personal brand.
    As far as keeping your social profiles “clean”, I think it’s important but there’s no need to be too paranoid. I doubt a couple of pictures of you having fun at parties will prevent you from getting the job you want even if you possess the skill set. now I am not talking about anything obscene (God bless those without common sense) but I remember at one point, probably during my senior year, there was a viral trend on my facebook feed where all my friends had weird last names for fear of being searched by potential employers. Thank goodness it died down shorty after graduation but now I think about it, it’s interesting how paranoid people got.

  4. I think social media’s role in the job search process depends on the type of job you’re seeking.

    For example, I work in digital marketing, so I know that my social media presence will be part of the job search. For example, have been asked to provide usernames for the various social media accounts I manage personally and professionally.

    Knowing this, I make an effort to engage professionally through Twitter and LinkedIn.

    On Twitter, I follow and interact with other digital marketers as well as leaders in my specific industry. I also post interesting and relevant articles. On LinkedIn, I try to engage in the discussions for the groups that I’ve joined.

    That all being said, I follow my own 80/20 rule of Twitter: 80% nonsense, 20% employer-positive content because I think the nonsense has its place.

    For me, I think there is value for the employer to read my “real” social media voice, which they won’t get from the cover letter or even the LinkedIn profile. If they want a good indication of how I’ll run their Twitter feed, it’s best to look at my Twitter feed.

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