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Peek-a-Boo: Employers See You. A Reality Check About Your Social Media 'Image'

Posted on the 26 October 2012 by Samdeprima @Mrktngmind
Peek-a-Boo: Employers See You. A Reality Check About Your Social Media 'Image'
For the first time since I was 15 years old, I am out of work. Despite what rosy cheeked news anchors are reporting, good jobs are tough to come by and the journey to land one is a rough road to navigate with lots of detours and dead ends. Even the most qualified, experienced candidate can find themselves pounding pavement for months, even YEARS trying to find gainful employment. No doubt, times are tough and make no mistake, employers have stepped up their game when checking into potential candidates. The days of a phone call, in-person interview followed by either a gleeful handshake or a 'Sorry we've chosen another candidate' are all but gone.Multi-tiered phone interviews and in-person interviews with levels upon levels of HR peeps, department heads and executive teams are the norm as employers seek out just the right fit for their company.
 If you want to get your proverbial unemployed foot in the door, you better take a close look at what you are putting out there i.e. your social media 'self'. You know who I'm talking about... that funny, clever, politically vocal and sometimes TMI (too much information) version of yourself, who likes to keep a picture of your dog as your profile pic and whose Facebook wall is laden with hilarious 'SomeEcards' for the enjoyment of your many friends. Know that I am not judging because if you know me, you know I am as guilty as they come. BUT the world of social media has evolved from a user friendly format to stay in touch with classmates or sneak a peek at an ex boyfriend/girlfriend to a valuable and widely used resource for potential employers to use when scoping out candidates.
My Reality Check

A few weeks ago I had begun the process of applying for a great job. It started out with the usual getting the 'basics', form filling, uploading of your fine tuned resume and a cover letter sculpted specifically to the outlined duties and responsibilities of the position being advertised. I even threw in my '40 Under Forty' honor... A little back patting never hurts. I was forging ahead, editing my application materials and feeling like I had hit a home run when something hit me out of left field... The online application agent asked for access to my LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.
Time for a thorough Social Media Diagnostics. I logged into all my accounts and began the process of scrubbing my social media image and making it employer friendly. Before we get into Do's, Dont's and why a picture of your dog shot gunning a beer is not an appropriate profile picture, let's talk statistics.
Turns Out You Can Judge a Book (or potential employee) by its Cover
Peek-a-Boo: Employers See You. A Reality Check About Your Social Media 'Image'

The popular site 'Mashable' recently unvelied an infographic based on Jobvite's Social Recruiting Survey 2012 titled 'Social Profiles Can Help You Land or Lose a Job' but before we dish statistics, keep in mind that there are 3 simple things to remember: 
-First Impressions Mean Everything
-Your Profile is a Snapshot into Your World - Both as a Person and a Potential Hire
-Proper Grammar and Correct Spelling (as much as we all love a good 'LOL!') Matters
The stats: 92% of companies use LinkedIn, Facebook, and/or Twitter for recruiting. 73% of companies have found a new hire through a social network; of that group, 89% hired them through LinkedIn, followed by 26% through Facebook. Let's start with LinkedIn. If you are not on LinkedIn, welcome to 2012. JOIN! It is an invaluable networking tool as well as a great place to mine for jobs.
Peek-a-Boo: Employers See You. A Reality Check About Your Social Media 'Image'  It's been my experience that most LinkedIn profiles need the least 'scrubbing' but DO update your profile, and stock up on endorsements for your many awesome skills from credible peeps. The guy you folded jeans with at The Gap may think you are a great employee but is that endorsement applicable to the career path you are on and the jobs you are applying for? Also, if you like to share articles on LinkedIn, know that what you read and take an interest in with regards to studies, trends, etc can either work for you or against you. Be sure to use a profile picture of the 'work' you. Best foot (or face, preferably) forward. Always. Join groups and contribute to them - most groups also post job openings in their forums.
-Something worth noting- when I started using LinkedIn I had 1 connection - a movie producer who had used some public space downtown for a few shots and had used me as a resource. That was 5 years ago and I now have over 600+ connections. These are not strangers - these are people I have worked with or had the good fortune to meet throughout my career whether at networking events or in my personal time. While it's nice to have a lot of connections, one gripe I hear all the time is people who constantly get requests to Link from people they do not know (usually looking for sales leads). If you have never met the person face to face, don't send a friend request. Using a common connection for an introduction is acceptable but a blind request to add someone to your network will get you blocked, regardless of your intentions.
Facebook, the fickle social media phenomenon.
Peek-a-Boo: Employers See You. A Reality Check About Your Social Media 'Image' You may think an employer would ONLY be interested in your applicable job skills but employers hire PEOPLE and want to know a little bit more about your personal life - not all the hairy details but just as we surround ourselves with good friends, employers want to hire good people. Your Facebook profile is an opinion laden, picture filled glimpse into the real you. Facebook is typically the social medium in need of the most 'scrubbing'. My rule of thumb is if you'd be ok sharing it with your Grandmother, it's ok to post on your Facebook wall. Some tips:
    • Start with your profile picture. It doesn't need to be some rigid pose from a corporate head shot but keep it simple and keep it clean. Pics with your kids are great, but don't use just pics of your kids - family photos are great for profile pics but make sure YOU are in there!
    • We've all had some fun memories in college that involve alcohol and Tomfoolery and those pictures SHOULD be treasured... in a private file or album... NOT on your Facebook wall or albums. You wouldn't think you would need to edit your posts but please SPELL CHECK. According to Jobvite  "recruiters respond negatively to pictures of excessive alcohol or drug consumption, and profane tweets or posts. However, spelling and grammar errors also mark high as issues that irk recruiters."
    • It's an election year and we all are entitled to our opinions on issues and candidates. Keep these discussions for post-dinner fodder or when out with friends. This goes for religious topics as well. Jobvite reminds us to "be wary when posting overtly political, religious, or sensitive issues- you don’t want to engage in debates or offend anyone." Especially not a potential employer. Watch what you follow and what updates post to your wall. If you can see it chances are others can too!
    • On that note, be sure to visit your Privacy settings. See who can post on your wall, tag you in photos, etc. You can make your status updates so they can be viewed only be a select group of Facebook peeps and, Facebook gives you the option to create or join a 'Private' group, where, unless you are a member, you can say whatever you want to a private audience that cannot be seen by anyone else.
 A little bird told me...
Peek-a-Boo: Employers See You. A Reality Check About Your Social Media 'Image'  Your opinion may differ from mine, but I see Twitter as a short form version of Facebook. It is a social medium to get a short point across while trying to make an impact. While it is used more now for relationship marketing (read a great article on transactional vs. relationship marketing here), it is still something that you are putting out onto the internet that employers can use to form an opinion about you. Think of it this way... if your blog is a diary, your Tweets are Post-It notes. All the points above apply here, too. I find that 140 characters is a perfect way for an employer to see that you are capable of forming clear, concise and effective communications without beating around the bush. Just use your common sense!
If you are in the same unemployment boat as me, I wish you the very best in your search for your next big adventure. As a parting note, I recently applied for a job where they specifically asked for my login and password information for both my LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.
 It is a hot legal topic and one you should know about. As this Forbes article with Attorney Renee Jackson points out  "Media coverage is still heavily focused on the various state and federal bills aimed at stopping employers from asking for applicants’ social media passwords. These bills were introduced in response to reports that surfaced in March about a handful of employers who were asking for applicants’ passwords." This would give potential employers or current employers access to everything  - personal messages along with other private information. She adds "A particular hot topic for employers is the legal gray area surrounding the various online “tools” that are being used to assist in the hiring process. For example, employers who are “Googling” applicants, contracting with third parties to conduct social media background checks, or using so-called measures of influence (such as Klout) to make hiring decisions. These tools, if used incorrectly, are fraught with legal risk."
Peek-a-Boo: Employers See You. A Reality Check About Your Social Media 'Image'
These are but a few of the mind blowing amount of social media sites/tools that inundate our lives from day to day. If you use common sense, keep things clean and remember that what you put out into the world wide web is a reflection of you not only as a person but as an employee, too then your social media 'self' can be proud.
That's all for now. I think I will go Google myself and then update my Privacy settings on Facebook.
Feedback, comments, gripes... all are welcome. I love a good chat. Until next time, be well and keep your mind on what matters.


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