I'm delighted that my colleague, Amy Jaffe, offered to submit this timely post.
So, I just joined Facebook! I know, I know, I’m very late to the party.
One of the reasons I hesitated for so long is that social media can be scary. It’s a place where our professional and personal lives intersect, and one simple click can damage a reputation permanently.
Having joined, I’m excited to catch up with old friends, follow local businesses, and connect with community groups and events. But I have another motive: I want to better understand how Facebook plays a role in the networking strategy of a job seeker.
As a career counselor, I already recognize the power of LinkedIn: surveys show that recruiters and HR managers source up to 90% of their candidates there. As LinkedIn has become a top source for companies to find job candidates, it’s an indispensable resource for anyone looking for a job. As my colleague Scott Woodard says: “if you’re not on Linkedin, you’re not in the job search game.”
Yet many people are reluctant to join LinkedIn. In my work – helping young adults and clients in their 20s, 30s and 40s establish their career path – I sometimes must struggle to convince others of its importance. I share the statistics. I suggest Scott’s LinkedIn workshop. But they sometimes still hold off. And I get it – joining a network of one billion is intimidating, especially for younger people with limited professional experience.
While Facebook may not be the primary site where recruiters discover candidates, it can certainly be a site they visit to learn more. And it can also be a useful resource for job seekers – a place to research organizations, follow brands, get a sense of a company’s culture and communication style, and, of course, connect with other people. When targeting a potential employer, you may be able to find connections through Facebook in addition to LinkedIn.
Regardless of the site – LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest , or others – it’s critical to establish and maintain a professional image in cyberspace. Here are four steps you can take:
- Keep it professional. Include basic information about your background, experience and interests. If you are actively searching for a job, be aware that recruiters may use LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media to screen candidates. In some cases, employers have rescinded job offers after discovering inappropriate material or a misrepresentation of a candidate’s qualifications on social media.
- Keep it clean. Avoid references to drinking alcohol or using swear words. A recent survey showed that more than 40% of recruiters avoid candidates who refer to alcohol on social media. And type carefully! More than two-thirds of recruiters say they avoid candidates with grammar mistakes in their posts.
- Keep it private. Be mindful of your privacy settings. Share sensitive information, photos and news only with people you know and trust. Make sure you retain control of who can post information and photos of you.
- Google yourself. Do a thorough check to see what others see when they search for you online. It’s important to review this regularly and stay in control of what’s out there. If there is something less than professional, research and work to have it deleted from cyber-space.
In 2014, it’s not enough to have a great resume and cover letter. Your online and social media presence is part of how the world – and current and prospective employers – sees you.