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Top 5 Social Media Mistakes For Job Seekers

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By Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Part 2 in our 2 Part Series

Whether you’re diligently working to reach coveted “500+ connections” status on LinkedIn or still wondering what a Facebook “poke” is, social media is a fact of life. Savvy recruiters use both sites (and others) to source talent, and many employers use social media to get more insight into a candidate’s background. Like other patches of the career landscape, there are pitfalls for both recruiters and candidates.

In Part One of this post I shared some best practices we’ve learned, at Decision Toolbox, to help recruiters from stepping into some of those pitfalls, and here I’ll offer five ways candidates can keep their social media shoes clean. You don’t have to be a super user to be a smart user.

Part Two: What Smart Candidates DON’T Do

1. Treat your profile like anything less than your reputation.
Some professionals, like those in sales and business development, use social media all the time. In some professions it’s not that important. But even if you fall into this second group, think of your LinkedIn profile as your business card. Even if you’re not actively searching for a new job, that profile often is a first impression.

2. Post only a partial profile.
Don’t leave important things out. Include the most relevant information, like accomplishments or education, near the top. If you’re in the kind of profession that normally calls for a portfolio (graphic designer, writer, etc.), check out LinkedIn Portfolio.

3. Let your profile lapse.
If social media is a standard best practice in your field (sales, recruiting, etc.), you don’t want to give the impression that you’re behind the times. Even if not, keep your profile fresh. For example, if you’re actively job hunting, change your LinkedIn settings to say so. But once hired, you might change that in case a coworker sees it. You also can use settings to control the privacy of your job searches — put yourself out there, or keep it on the down low.

4. Post brainlessly
So far I’ve been writing about LinkedIn, but social media isn’t like a mullet, with LinkedIn in the front and Facebook in the back. Potential employers look at both. At Decision Toolbox we’ve seen highly qualified candidates passed over because they posted pictures that probably shouldn’t have been taken in the first place. Choose your words carefully, too. Don’t tweet it if you don’t want a future (or current) boss to read it.

5. Fail to monitor your social media presence
Assume that anyone can find anything online if they try hard enough. If you’re like me, the recent iCloud breach made you wonder less about Apple’s security policies than about why anyone had those kinds of photos online. All social media sites offer privacy settings, but you probably should assume that “online privacy” is an oxymoron.

But monitoring your presence isn’t just about scandalous photos. If a potential employer might google you, you should google yourself to see what comes up. You can even use Google Alerts to be notified when your name or email shows up in a post. Also check out the Google blog post “Me, Myself and I: Helping to Manage your Identify on the Web,” by Andreas Tuerk.

Your social media presence can be a great tool for job hunting, business development and, yes, keeping up with Aunt Clara’s latest gooseberry jam recipe. But guard and cultivate that presence like you do your reputation.

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn or Twitter.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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2 Responses to “Top 5 Social Media Mistakes For Job Seekers”

  1. November 14, 2015 at 4:28 pm, Sandra said:

    Fantastic presentation and great ideas. I think one of the most cruaicl points you raise is the fact that social media is *not* a channel for feeding, ahem, bullshit. I’ve seen so many brands rush to be on everything and anything that their presence ends up being appropriate and content is weak and unhelpful.Interacting with your audience allows you to tap into conversations and uncover more about what your candidates, clients and customers want from you.


  2. November 17, 2015 at 8:49 am, Kelly Graham said:

    Excellent points, Sandra! The beauty of social media is the ability to have conversations. It’s almost misuse when it is only utilized for broadcasting. Thank you for weighing in on the conversation!


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