Social networking has truly pervaded every facet of our personal lives and changed the way we communicate with friends, family members and work colleagues. Websites like Facebook and Google+ allow us to share our thoughts, photos and videos with everyone in our social circles and we can even use them to showcase our professional experience.
Consequently, social media continues to grow as an effective candidate sourcing tool. More and more recruiters are turning to the likes of LinkedIn and Facebook to identify suitable candidates; however they are also using these networks to conduct background checks. While we may enjoy sharing the details of our personal lives on Facebook, some information should remain private. Once you upload an inappropriate photo of yourself on Facebook, perhaps from a night out with friends, it is in the public sphere and fair game for anyone to scrutinise – including recruiters and hiring managers.
Employers and recruitment consultants make judgements of potential employees based on what they see online, and it’s not uncommon for their candidacy to be rejected based on unsavoury status updates or a questionable photo on Facebook. When applying for a job it is vital that you ensure your online digital footprint is as squeaky clean as possible in order to maintain the integrity of your professional brand.
In addition to spring cleaning your own Facebook profile, it is important that you take the time to assess the profiles of your friends. They may have tagged you in on a particularly inappropriate photograph, which may do your professional reputation no good at all. Be sure to familiarise yourself with Facebook’s privacy settings, which allow you to control who can tag you in a photo.
Although LinkedIn may be a great place to showcase your career achievements, experience and skills, it is effectively your online CV; it fails to allow you to express your personality and brand. Facebook on the other hand can be a great way of presenting you in a better-rounded manner. For example, an employer can gain a great insight into your character from your interests, hobbies, likes and values. Your goal should be to try to demonstrate how your brand aligns with the culture and ethos of the company you wish to work for. This can be achieved by posting industry relevant status updates, following thought leaders in your target sector and engaging directly with the Facebook page of your prospective employer. For more information on this topic, check out our related blog: Using Facebook to find a job.
The most important point to remember is that while social networks can be powerful brand development tools for your professional career, in the wrong hands they can also cause significant damage to your credibility. Employers and recruiters use them to build a picture of you as a candidate, make sure that your social media footprint leaves a positive impact.