The Impact of Social Media on Your Job Search

We hear so much today about using the power of social media to aid in a job search.  Using sites, like LinkedIn or Facebook – the most popular – can elevate your profile, get you in front of thousands of recuiters or potential clients, and connect you with people who may be in a position to hire, or know someone who does.  Yes, social media should be added as a job search strategy.

However, social media can also be a detriment to getting hired.  More employers are hiring the whole person and not just the skills; namely, they want employees who have the skill-sets needed but they also want people who have integrity;  who possess needed business skills, such as communication skills and leadership skills; and they want people who will fit into the current company culture.  These days, organizations want to know more than what is on a resume and are taking steps to learn more about potential employees, and they are doing so by using social media.

This means that they are Googling you to see what comes up and are using this information as a basis for hiring decisions.  I found recently that it is not just employers who are taking this route; I had a student who said he “looked me up” and based his decision to take my class on my bio and my picture!  The social media phenomena has a reach that is far and wide so it is imperative that you are aware of how you are presented in the world of the web.  Organizations are hiring companies whose main function is to search out background information in the area of social media.  Here are 3 tips that can help you to ensure that you are well-represented:

1. Assess – go to all of the sites that you are on, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, AboutMe, discussion boards, chat rooms, etc to see what information is on there.  Look at the information you have shared or that is shared by others; check to see if you are tagged by others.  You don’t want a potential employer, or your current employer, to see that you are barely dressed or in an inebriated state.  Look at the language that is used – employers are using your posts to assess how well you convey your thoughts and feelings; be sure not to malign anyone or share confidential information. It is easy to think that only your friends can see what is on your sites but content on the web is accessbile to everyone and is for life.

2. Clean Up – once you see what is out there, it’s now time to clean them up.  Take down unflattering pictures; unfriend people that may link to you or post inappropriately; start to post postive statements or to highlight some of your accomplishments.  You can turn it around but it takes…..

3. Awareness and Commitment – vow to keep watch over the content that goes on any site you are on and for what you are posting.  Schedule a time, say every Friday, to go on your profiles and maintain them.  Google yourself to see what comes up.  Take quick action to delete, unfriend, or to do damage control for the future.

In today’s society, where people are still looking to find work, or to maintain job security, competition exists and some people will use any means to stand out,and using adverse information about someone can be one of those means.  In a recent Ann Landers column, a woman wrote in to say that she had been hired but was let go on her first day of work over a picture that was on her Facebook profile; turns out is was reported by another job candidate.   As you can see, the impact of social media on your job search can have far-reaching effects that can keep you in job-search mode for a long time.  Don’t let that happen to you.   I’d love to hear your stories: have you had any adverse effects and how did you overcome them?


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