How to Create a Professional Social Networking Profile for Your Job Search20 April 2010 / By Truity Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on April 20, 2010
Social media is fast becoming a popular tool for job search. Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn are becoming a primary means for people to connect with one another, not only professionally but socially as well. In this day and age, families and friends often reside great distances from one another and these sites provide a great way to stay in touch.
A recent study conducted by CareerBuilder.com found that twenty-two percent of hiring managers claimed that they now regularly peruse social media sites to find potential candidates! The survey also found that an additional nine percent of hiring managers plan to add social media to their recruitment tool kit in the near future. Most hiring managers peruse social media sites to gain a sense of the person behind the résumé and cover letter. Where before hiring managers had to wait for a face-to-face interview before being able to obtain a more rounded picture of candidates, all it now takes is a simple search of on line profiles. While knowledge and skills remain of the most important factors in hiring decisions, profiles also provide a way for hiring managers to gage if candidates will also fit in with the company culture. This can be determined from the overall first impression your profile provides to readers. This can be determined form word usage, layout (especially in the case of Twitter), as well as any listing of your hobbies and interests. The rise in popularity of the social media sites means that they are a highly useful method of obtaining new employment. However, to be most effective, there are several key strategies you can utilize that will serve to promote your candidacy in the eyes of hiring managers.
Create a professional profile
Restrict the information you include on your profile to only that which you wouldn’t mind having a potential employer read or view. Keep the tone warm and friendly, yet professional. Avoid slang or impolite language. Choose pictures wisely and in keeping with the image you wish to convey to potential employers. A good suggestion is to post a picture in which you are dressed in professional attire. The most appropriate time to review and revise your profile is BEFORE you begin your job search. To delay in removing questionable content or photographs until you actively begin submitting résumés leaves you at risk that potential employees may have already viewed your profile. Think about it: the hiring manager has your résumé on his or her desk and decides to see if you by any chance have a profile on one of the sites. When they search, there you are in your Saturday night finest revealing all those tattoos that you would cover up in an instant for any face-to-face meeting!
Unless you restrict access, visitors to your profile will be able to see a list of your friends and/or connections and view their profiles as well. The saying that “we are judged by the company we keep” certainly applies here so use some caution in choosing who you connect with.
Join Groups and Fan Pages Selectively
While the purpose of social media is to connect with others who share your social and professional interests, it will enhance your candidacy if your profile includes groups and fan pages of any civic or professional associations, or shows evidence of volunteer activities you participate in regularly. These groups or volunteer activities do not have to be related to your job search. What the employer is looking for is some evidence of community involvement.
Do Not Write Anything Negative about Current Employers
If you are currently employed, don’t post any negative comments about your employer to your profile. All this will accomplish is to plant a seed of suspicion in the minds of potential employers that perhaps, one day, you will write post similar remarks about their organization as well.
Do Not Advertise Your Job Search
Just as hiring managers may be reading your profile, so too may your current employer! Imagine your supervisor perusing the profiles of employees and coming upon yours only to discover that you have been very busy during your lunch hour interviewing for a new job. This situation could seriously jeopardize your employment with that company. Even if your supervisor is not directly linked into your online network, there is likely someone at the office who is and who may inadvertently let it slip that you are seeking a new job. This can also be done “accidently on purpose” if there is any type of ill-will among co-workers. Think of your profile as the start of the interviewing process since impressions are being formed about you even as it is being read. With this in mind, take as much care with the “dressing” of your profile as you do with your attire for an interview.