Published: 13 January 2017

Is your online profile harming your job search?

Social media platforms have never been as prevalent as they are today. According to CareerBuilder, 60% of employers use social media sites to screen candidates. Effectively managing your online profiles could benefit your job search.

Here are a couple of tips to ensure your online profile is helping rather than hindering the hunt.

Managing your social media profiles

Choose the social media profiles you wish to keep private and those you’re happy for employers to see. LinkedIn is essentially an online CV, so if you want to be seen by employers, it’s a good idea to create a profile. While Facebook and Twitter are generally created for personal use, some employers may stumble across your profile when they search your name. 

Facebook allows you to adjust your privacy settings so you can control who sees your content. If you’re posting content which isn’t of a professional nature, you can manage these settings here. You can use circles to segment contacts for appropriate content, with different privacy settings for each group. Similarly, on Twitter you can control who views your tweets – you can either make them public or only allow those you approve to see them. 

Keep content accurate, clean and appropriate

Have you ever googled your name? If not, it may be a good idea to do so. If you’ve ever written a blog or commented on one, it will show up in the search, and may appear on the first page. If you come across a relevant listing, monitor the content and see whether you are happy for this to appear or not. 

Remember that when you post content online, this stays on your profile forever (theoretically) unless you delete or hide it. Not only can your immediate Facebook friends view the content, but the wider public. You may enjoy having the occasional ‘Facebook rant’ or an online debate but be aware – once this content has been published on the internet, it remains for all to see. If you do happen to come across something you don’t like, consider amending your social media privacy settings, or contact the webmaster to have the content removed. 

If you’re posting a LinkedIn post or a blog relevant to your area of work, why not use the opportunity to bring in your current skills and experience. It’s also good practice to ensure all information on your LinkedIn profile is accurate and true, reflecting your actual CV. Add relevant skills to add weight to your profile and ask current and previous employers you’re connected with to endorse you. Avoid asking friends and family, as it won’t hold much weight.

Target your online message and reflect your personality 

Just because you’re actively looking for a job, it doesn’t mean you should run and hide away from using social media altogether. It can help you demonstrate your experience to future employers, show off key skills and even hint at your personality. Be proud of the topical blog posts you’ve written and shared and your passion. 

If you have a LinkedIn profile, it’s highly likely future employers will find you online. This is your opportunity to create a great first impression before you meet in person. Your profile picture on LinkedIn should be a professional headshot, in a neutral context – remember this is your online CV! Avoid group or inappropriate photos. It’s also worth providing an interesting strapline for your profile which summarises your skills and experiences. Keep it accurate and concise.

When it comes to your other social media sites, there’s no need to hide these completely – this could be counterproductive and could make employers suspicious. They still want to see that you have a personality. Just be mindful of the type of content you share. Ask yourself, would you be happy hiring someone who posted this particular content?

Your social media profiles can act as a shop window for your personal brand and a portfolio of your digital skills. It’s worth thinking about how you could use them to enhance your job hunting. Decide what you want to say and which platform this might be most beneficial on. For example, some candidates prefer to keep their Facebook account completely private but use their Twitter profile to demonstrate their grasp of social media and knowledge of their sector. Keep your tone and style consistent across all communications and social media campaigns.

Just to recap: 

Three signs of a positive online reputation:

  • Accurate listing with informative content.
  • Relevant connections from previous or current jobs (LinkedIn).
  • Professional or neutral photographs (especially for profile pictures).

Three signs of a negative online reputation:

  • Inaccurate information or a lack of information.
  • Embarrassing or inappropriate photos.
  • Hateful and controversial opinions or inappropriate language.

If you are worried about your online reputation or would like to know some more information, this article offers some useful advice and tips.

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Kate Maunder, divisional manager – marketing & communications, TPP Recruitment

Kate has been working at TPP Recruitment for over seven years on one of the longest-established specialist divisions within the company, the marketing and communications team. This division has been providing permanent, contract and temporary recruitment solutions to the third and public sectors for over a decade from assistant to director level. Kate enjoys delivering consistent, personalised and results-driven service to both her clients and candidates, and the partnerships that develop over time.