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Abram Molelemane - How Social Media Can Make or Break You in your job search

Entering the workplace shines the light on your social media presence. Make sure you manage your online profile before you step out into the spotlight – starting today. We look at ways to utilise your social media accounts to enhance the chances of you landing your dream job.

Abram Molelemane | Godfella Productions

In today’s competitive job market, it takes more than experience and a qualification to get hired, let alone land the dream job you always hoped for. A well prepared interview might boost your chances of landing your dream job, but is still not enough.

Many graduates are not aware that their social life and online presence also make an impression on possible employers. Especially because they don’t have any previous work experience to fall back on. Employers that are willing to take a chance on new graduates rely on good background checks. And, the background check goes further than you might imagine – more and more employers are checking out candidates on social media before hiring them.

They want to know anything and everything about you – who your friends are, how you spend your weekends, your interests – and they leave no stone unturned. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ allow employers to get a glimpse of who you are outside the confines of a résumé, cover letter, or interview. In fact, according to the 2014 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey, about 93% of recruiters are utilising social media to vet and find future employees.

Another survey discovered that 39% of employers dig into candidates on social sites, while 43% said they had found something that made them push aside a candidate, such as posting inappropriate photos or information, or bad-mouthing a former boss.

Employers have learned that social media is exploding, and that just about every business uses it (this includes potential clients and stakeholders). Therefore they do not want to risk hiring someone who might at a later stage compromise or tarnish the company’s image or brand in the marketplace, because of their social life. And it is for this reason that many employers these days monitor how employees use social media at all times; they know that if they don’t pay attention, they may end up facing any number of serious problems. This is also why it is important to manage your personal online reputation.

In truth, in today’s market, image is everything, and employers are aware of the power of social media and its repercussions if not managed properly; one can easily jeopardise the company’s reputation with a simple post, tweet or picture. Thus, hiring has become stricter and therefore makes it vital for the job seeker to be cautious of their social life and online presence at all times.

Since 2004, the growth of social media has been exponential. When Facebook started out, it had about 1 million users – today it has over 1 billion users worldwide. Years later, the network had grown so much; its population was being compared to that of a country – saying it is the country with the largest population in the world.

And since then, various social media sites such as Twitter, Google+, Instagram and SnapChat to name a few have been developed. Proponents of social networking sites say that the online communities promote increased interaction with friends and family; offer teachers, librarians, and students valuable access to educational support and materials; facilitate social and political change; and disseminate useful information rapidly. While this is great and very true, the reality is that, like with most things in life, there are positive and negative sides to social networking. If you are a jobseeker, it is important that your social media accounts are employer-friendly and working to your advantage. Below are tips on how to better manage your social online presence.

Spell check before you publish

Using proper spelling and grammar is one of the most crucial things you can do when writing, be it in an email, on a website, or in something you’re looking to get published. Incorrect word usage, poor sentence structure or spelling mistakes can ruin your chances of  being hired, and affect your credibility. For this reason, it is important that all your social media accounts are well polished. Also avoid the use of profanity – it does not leave a good impression.

Anxiety and complaint level

Recruiters can learn a lot about you through your posts. They are particularly interested in posts where you voice your opinions about something that happened in class or at work during your day. They can learn a lot about how someone deals with stress (and their boss and co-workers) through their posts.

Political innuendos

A surefire way to discourage a recruiter immediately is a social media account filled with your political preferences and posts. Although we all know that everyone has an opinion and is free to express them, many recruiters, especially those who don’t particularly agree with your opinions, will move on to the next candidate.

Party pictures and other negatives

Nothing says “party animal” more than pictures posted boozing it up with friends. It may seem innocent and fun at the time, and it probably was “just a casual wine party”, but when viewed by a potential new boss, these pictures raise big red flags. Any picture that shows your riskier side should stay off all of your social media accounts that are open to the public and within scrutiny-reach of the next nosy recruiter. 

Take advantage of social media and use it to your benefit

Personal branding

A well-developed online presence through blogging, social media and networking can demonstrate that you have the desired skills and knowledge without recruiters necessarily having a face-to-face encounter with you.

  • By developing your personal brand, you can independently:
  • Increase your employability.
  • Protect your online privacy.
  • Show your passion and display your proactive nature.
  • Get noticed by potential employers.
  • Develop important relationships.

Build a strong online professional profile 

Almost all employers will do a Google or LinkedIn search on potential candidates. Make sure that when employers find you they are seeing information about your professional accomplishments and background that’s up to date. If there are too many videos, photos, and other references and links to your personal life, you should activate privacy settings and consider disabling or removing some of these links. The more information you have on your page, and the more complete your profile, the better chance you have of getting job opportunities.

Expand your network

Build relationships with organisations and individuals of interest to you and don’t be afraid to reach out through several social media platforms. Many industry-related Twitter chats exist that can help you communicate your knowledge of different industries to the right people.

In conclusion, researching candidates via social media and other online sources has become a growing trend. In a competitive job market like ours, recruiters are looking for all the information they can find that might help them make better decisions. It is therefore important for jobseekers to take note. It is your responsibility to make your professional persona visible online, and ensure that any information that could blow your chances of getting hired is made private or removed.

The above tips are just a few of many others that are available free of charge online. So if you are keen to learn more on this subject, don’t be shy to look it up!