There’s a lot to think about when you’re on the job search. First, you need a resume. Then, you need to apply for jobs. You also need to build up your connections, both online and in person. And let’s not forget having a good answer to, “Why should we hire you?” But have you given any thought to your job search and social media connection? LinkedIn is a vital component of any strong job search, of course. Unfortunately, too many candidates have forgotten about Facebook, Instagram, and Google. But be assured, employers are checking there, and if you haven’t cleaned up your online reputation, you could be losing opportunities.
What Google Says About You
When was the last time you Googled yourself? If never, you might want to start. And if you’ve done it often, you should clear your cache beforehand; old results could water down what you’re seeing today. Google will often pull up your social media profiles first, typically LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. If you have a common name, you’ll find a plethora of results, of course, but even less common names could have some competition.
One job seeker wondered why she wasn’t getting any callbacks from her job search. It turned out that she, unfortunately, shared the same name as adult-film star. To combat the issue, she worked with her career coach to create some better name recognition, including building a blog and appropriate social media profiles.
While you can’t change the results Google presents without some fancy SEO footwork, you can only fight when you’re armed. If you know a murderer shares your name, let employers know that ahead of time. And do your best to keep your name clean.
Facebook and Privacy Settings
The world is on Facebook. There’s no getting around it. Even the millennials are still there, regardless what you hear on the news. While Facebook certainly isn’t a platform for finding a job, it is a platform for sharing personal information. And employers are searching there.
A colleague is currently searching for an entry-level candidate, so he’s seeing a lot of applications from 20-somethings. Aside from the fact that most of them need some serious resume help, a few have been in the ballpark of his requirements. Like any good employer, he does his due diligence by looking for his applicants on LinkedIn and Facebook. And he’s actually passed on more than a couple because of what he found on Facebook. Usually, it amounts to pictures of young women either wearing next to nothing or always having a drink in their hand (sometimes it’s both).
It’s fine to share what you want on Facebook, but be sure you have changed your privacy settings so they’re not public. And use appropriate pictures for your profile and cover photos, as well as anything else you’ve previously posted (by default, cover images and profile pictures remain public). Refrain from posting anything about religion, politics, or sex during your job search, even if your posts are private. Remember that your potential employer could be connected to one of your friends, meaning they have a greater chance of seeing your posts.
Instagram: The Up-and-Coming Threat to Your Job Search
Many young people are on Instagram, and even the Gen-Xers and Boomers are following suit. As with Facebook, you may have been using Instagram as a pictorial diary of your personal antics. If that’s the case, it’s easy enough to change your settings to private. Whether you keep them that way or not, it’s smart to do so during your job search, at least. While not all employers will check Instagram during your job search and social media to them is only Facebook, don’t take chances.
No matter what you think about social media, it’s here—and it’s not going anywhere. If you’re in the midst of a job search and social media hasn’t entered your mind, it should. Take a little time to see yourself as others see you. Lock down your posts. Be responsible. This isn’t just a millennial problem, either; this is for every job seeker. And the worst part is that no employer is ever going to tell you they’re not calling you because of those pictures you have on Facebook.
Ink & Quill Communications is a Phoenix-based firm that specializes in corporate communications, content marketing, and personal branding. Owner Amanda Collins has been writing resumes since 1996. Contact them to learn more or for a free resume review.