SGEi is recruiting for a new position related to social media, which has flooded our inboxes with a bevy of applicants. The daunting process of reviewing applicants inspired me to create a list of best practices for people who are searching for jobs in the digital era.
Don’t rely on Google alone to search your name; get creative and try new search engines, because you will get varied results. When you search your name, be sure to check variations (such as with your middle name and without), and also search your name with quotation marks as well as without. Be aware of all of the results an employer may see. In some cases, there’s little or nothing you can do to hide or remove results, but you should at least be aware of your reputation and presence. Lastly, don’t forget to do image searches using your name, too. By searching my name, you quickly learn that I like dogs; this passes the next step, which is grandma-proofing your public pages.
Grandma-Proof Your Public Pages
The public representation of yourself should be grandma-proofed and presentable. Assume that employers are reviewing your public pages, because they could. While this seems like common sense, it’s apparently not, so here’s a list of things to check for on your public pages:
- Politics (Trump – you love or hate him, but an employer might be alienated by your opinion, so don’t publicize it)
- Sexual Jokes, Photos, etc.
- Gloomy Disposition (No one wants to work with Eeyore)
Please do yourself a favor and print a copy of your resume. Now, with that in hand, go to your LinkedIn page and compare job titles, dates, and your educational information. If anything is not aligned then you need to update it. Today, most people are guilty of fudging their job histories slightly to make themselves more appealing for a particular position (and other people flat-out lie).
While I don’t condone lying or even fudging, you should at least tell a consistent story. Do yourself the favor of regularly comparing your professional resume to all of the other versions of it that exist online. If you tailor the professional copy to make yourself more appealing for a particular position but forget to update your LinkedIn page, a recruiter may compare the two and determine that you’re untrustworthy.
Play to Your Strengths
Once you’ve grandma-proofed your pages, it’s time to make the day of digital work in your favor. Utilize your public posts to promote your accomplishments and points of pride. If you looked at my Facebook page, you’d notice that the public posts are of things I’m proud of – volunteering, SGEi’s accomplishments, my colleagues’ personal successes, a guarded insight into my family life that is positive, and some of my professional interests. While my page isn’t perfect because it’s not meant to be a professional page, it is an assemblage of things I would tell a stranger proudly.
Start with Facebook; go to your profile, view it in public mode, and review every single post. If that is too daunting, then reset all of your posts to the friends-only audience and selectively turn a few posts to the public audience. Once you have a public Facebook page that would make your granny smile, then you need to work on every other social network that has a public page for you. Remember to selectively highlight those stories about yourself that support a positive, professional image; they’re like breadcrumbs that will make an employer want to know more about you. While this is critical for any job role, it is especially critical for people who claim to have a working knowledge of social media and/or marketing. No one wants to hire the cobbler with no shoes.
Know Your Rights
Employers must abide by the same non-discrimination laws during social media review that they utilize during interviews. Additionally, they must treat all applicants the same way (for example, if they search your social pages the minute they get your resume, they should search all applicants’ social pages at that same point in the process). Most experts agree that the ideal time to do a social media review is after the first interview and after you’ve given the applicant fair warning that you will review their public posts, but opinions vary. Also, whereas LinkedIn is viewed as a professional social network that has the explicit intent to help job seekers, most employers are comfortable reviewing LinkedIn pages early in the interview process.
In the digital era, job seekers should be mindful of their social presence and protect their reputations by reviewing them frequently and making updates as necessary. If job seekers don’t like the scrutiny, they can avoid it by making their social profiles private or by deleting their social accounts. SGEi is an equal opportunity employer that provides all applicants with a fair, consistent interview process, but job seekers should be aware that other employers may not have the same integrity. The best practice is to prepare your presence for review and to actively promote your valuable skills and related interests.