Did you tweet about being late for work? Letting a future employer know that you are tardy and fine with it is a bad idea.
Are there embarrassing pictures of you publicly posted on Facebook? Some employers might question your judgment and maturity.
Have a mediocre recommendation on LinkedIn? That’s not a great showcase of your talent.
Social media sites have undoubtedly changed employers’ hiring practices. People need to understand that you can find anything that’s been on the web. Nothing is private, and employers use that to their advantage. If they are willing to invest time and money hiring and training you, then they are going to invest a few minutes tracking you down on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here are some tips on preparing your online profiles during your job search. In a tough economy, many employers don’t want to take chances. Don’t give them a reason to pass you by for someone seemingly safer.
1. 80% of Success is Showing Up.
Contribute to your social networks! Participate in Twitter chats on topics you’re interested in, post on Facebook about the industry you are looking to break into and join relevant LinkedIn groups. These are all great ways to make yourself more visible to recruiters—and increase your own knowledge. However, be mindful of what you are putting out into cyber space.
2. Remember, There is No Privacy on the Internet.
You must realize that before you’re even called in for an interview, employers and recruiters are looking at you online. One quick Google search and they will have full access to you online. Check out your Facebook profile as an outsider by viewing your Facebook page without logging in (or just ask a friend who you trust to evaluate your profile for you), and make sure that your profile is clean. Take this opportunity to clean them up now, and utilize your privacy settings. You can set them so that only your friends can see specific content about you. Also, if you’re a Tweeter, and you Tweet about things that aren’t necessarily professional, be sure that your profile cannot be traced back to your real name.
3. It Works Both Ways.
Just as employers will likely “snoop” on you, you should take a moment to research a potential employer’s online presence. In addition to visiting the company’s website, utilize LinkedIn to learn more about the company and find out if you have any connections in common. Use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to find out what your interviewer’s interests are, what their professional history is, and anything that you might leverage to make yourself standout from your job searching competition. When you demonstrate to an employer that you’ve gone the extra step to do research, he or she will be impressed by your initiative.
4. Stand Out From the Crowd.
Social media profiles can be as important as your resume. So you know that employers are going to be looking at you online, and you have the opportunity to not only present a clean, professional online persona, but also stand out from your fellow job searchers. Build your profile to grab a recruiter or employer’s attention. Make it clear in your titles and headlines who you are, what you do and what you’d like to be doing in the future.
Ask for recommendations on your LinkedIn profile from people who you have worked with in the past and who have a high opinion of you. It’s important that the people who recommend you also maintain professionalism. You can also follow thought-leaders in your field of expertise on Twitter and possibly engage with them in casual, yet professional ways. Finally, join LinkedIn groups where you will “virtually” meet valuable connections and make your own contributions to discussions.