Brad Veal, Senior Consultant, MSA Executive Search
The meteoric rise of social media over the past decade has dramatically altered our personal and business communication styles and methods, and forever changed how we look for new jobs and how companies acquire talent. No longer do we see a job posting in a newspaper or journal, and reply by mailing a formal cover letter and hard copy of our resume. Now timelines are compressed—everything is electronic, and face-to-face or telephone conversations are usually reserved only for top candidates. Therefore, it is vitally important to stand out among your peers both on paper and online.
First, it is imperative that you have a professional presence on LinkedIn. This is the primary go-to resource for recruiters across most industries. If you can’t be found on LinkedIn, most won’t have the time to dig deeper to locate you. I highly recommend that you include as much information as you can regarding your career history, education, and professional skills and interests so your profile can be found running LinkedIn’s specialized filters. Also, a professional photograph is necessary and helps create a small level of familiarity in the mind of a recruiter.
Obviously, nearly everyone has some sort of personal social media presence, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, or one of the latest Silicon Valley start-ups. Personally, I consider the rise of these to be among the most significant innovations of the early 21st century. It is important to remember, however, that even though your personal updates and opinions on these platforms are often off-the-cuff or snarky comments (guilty!), they may carry with them a lifetime electronic signature. We’ve all heard the stories of someone losing a job or not being hired because of something controversial they had posted on a personal page. Also, some companies are requiring their employees to provide access to their personal social media passwords. That alone is worth a blog topic, but for right or wrong, it’s the world we live in and we must play by the rules.
So, what can we do to minimize potential problems? The most logical answer is to refrain from posting or commenting on political, religious, or other “hot button” issues. If you wouldn’t espouse your view to a total stranger, then don’t do it online. The same goes for posting “party” pictures. If you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see it, don’t post it. I realize, however, that we aren’t robots and the world would be a pretty bland place if this conservative thinking ruled every decision. So if your voice can’t be silenced, I highly encourage you to lock down your privacy settings so that only friends and confirmed followers can access your posts. Always remember the new take on an old adage, “Think before you post!”