Flick through an article or two on job-hunting no-nos and you’ll undoubtedly find a mention of social media. In a move that would send George Orwell turning in his grave, six in 10 employers hunt through an applicant’s social media prior to giving them a job (and 41% continue to do so after they hire them).
Hence the prevailing wisdom that job-hunters should privatize, prune and, ideally, delete their social media accounts. At first glance, this reasoning seems sound – In fact, having a rogue tweet or offensive Facebook post has caused 26% of employers to reprimand or fire an employee.
But before you rush out to exterminate your entire web presence, bear in mind that the same survey found that one out of three employers have hired a candidate because of their social media and that 41% of hiring managers are less likely to interview a candidate with no social media presence at all.
In short: bad use of social media may harm your job prospect, but good use of social media will enhance them. Enter, the social media CV:
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one. If you do have LinkedIn, put in the time and effort to make sure it’s the best representation of your professional self.
Your LinkedIn profile should read as a condensed version of your resume; showcasing your skills and achievements in a quick-scan form. This doesn’t just impress the employers you apply to, but brings new opportunities directly to you. Recruiters, hiring managers and clients all trawl LinkedIn looking for suitable candidates.
No matter what industry you’re in, networking is crucial to professional success. LinkedIn doesn’t just let you network on a much larger scale than you could in real life – it lets you do it from the comfort of your living room! Join industry groups, connect with key players in your sector, post insights into relevant topics, and you’ll soon get noticed for all the right reasons.
You may have heard terms like “knowledge-workers” and “thought-leaders” bandied about in the workplace, but have you ever considered how to effectively present yourself as one? Passion and engagement are highly desirable traits in any worke, and a platform like Twitter is a great way to add your voice to the conversation.
Twitter is also useful for highlighting professional and personal successes. Won an industry award? Post it on Twitter. Completed a triathlon? Put it on Twitter. It’s all about positive personal branding; give snooping employers a sense of your personality and why you’d be an awesome addition to their team.
It’s not just journalists and content writers who benefit from having a personal blog. All employers, regardless of industry, appreciate candidates with passion for their work. Keeping a blog discussing related issues shows an impressive commitment to your career.
Even a blog dedicated to an unrelated hobby can demonstrate that you hold universally appreciated skills. Perhaps you’re a mountaineer (tenacity and resilience) or a commentator on current affairs (political awareness, analysis). At the very least you’ll seem like an interesting, proactive person.
Never underestimate the importance of having strong writing abilities either. Even in non-creative industries, employees are frequently expected to put together client proposals, business reports, and other documentation that are clear, readable, persuasive, and grammatically impeccable.
If you like working in video format, take the opportunity to use it!
YouTube can be used to display videography skills (a great bonus if your career is in something like marketing) or your passions and interests. Cool footage of your travels might not be directly related to the jobs you’re applying for, but it’ll make you seem like the sort of fun, interesting person that managers want on their team.
You can even use YouTube to create a quirky, attention-grabbing alternative CV. (You can see some examples here and here.) There’s no guarantee that it’ll be a viral hit, but it’ll certainly make you memorable!
This one isn’t for everyone. But for creative types – writers, designers, photographers – it’s essential. Having your own portfolio makes you look like an experienced professional. Websites like Wix (designers) or Contently (writers) look slick and are easy to use and update.
Hiring managers are busy people who often have hundreds of CVs to shift through and no time to open lots of links/files showing examples of your work. Sending them an online portfolio, however, shows them a selection of your best work in an easy-to-scan format.
Nothing says “professional” like having your own website, especially if you go that extra mile and pay for a personalized domain name.
While other social media sites can be used to advertise a select aspect of yourself, your website can (and should!) show off your whole package. Use it as a platform which pulls in all your other social media accounts into a cohesive whole. Viewers should get an impression not only of your skills and experience, but your personality.
A personal website will make you stand out from the crowd, but only if it’s high-quality. Invest the time and effort in making sure it’s up to scratch. There are plenty of free online courses to give you the low down about everything from design to SEO.
Beth Leslie writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, who specialize in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs" listings for roles.