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?