It is odd to contemplate the professional ramifications social media has on our career prospects these days. Just 10 years ago, the thought that something you did online could ruin your chances of getting an interview or getting a promotion was absurd.
Now, however, your social media usage holds a lot of sway, and for obvious reasons. Employers want to check everything they can before hiring someone, and an interview can only cover so much. Instead, they now have a litany of sites wherein you have broadcast your personal thoughts and opinions to the world. It can be a mainline to the real you – for better or for worse.
But if it can cost you a job, does it stand to reckoning that the opposite is true? Can social media, as disposable, vain and vapid as it usually is, actually help you land a job? Well while it can’t get you an interview or a promotion by itself, it can certainly help in a huge way.
Follow the right people
While the content you post is the most important thing to monitor, another aspect you may want to inspect prior to applying for a job is who you follow. Facebook and Twitter make it fairly easy to see the people and groups you follow, so employers will be on the lookout.
They’ll want to see if you are following people and groups pertinent to the sector you hope to go into. They aren’t expecting you to follow nothing but business leaders and their companies, but enough to let them know you have a genuine interest in your sector, and want to stay as current as possible.
Similarly, employers will be looking to see if you follow any questionable accounts. Anything that even hints at anti-social behavior or extremist views will count against you. Carefully scan your list for anything that stands out in this way, and distance yourself from it.
The “media” part of social media tends to dominate in the general public. It can be all selfies, funny videos and “look at me” posts. But the “social” part is very important for businesses. They want to hire someone who can work within a group, so they’ll be on the lookout for who you interact with, and how frequently you interact with them.
Better yet, if the employer can see you reaching out to people within your industry and making links with them, they’ll be very impressed. A lot of business is based on forging and maintaining relationships. If you can help with that on some level, it can be a very useful skill.
People often forget that social media is global. Anyone, anywhere can usually find your account, unless you have gone to great lengths to make everything private. That means the lewd in-joke you and your friends made three years ago could soon be popping up on the screen of a potential employer.
It’s a good practice, then, to regularly review what you have posted. Getting social media to help you in the job world is as much about avoiding online pitfalls as it is about doing positive things. So delete anything rude, crude, or expletive ridden. A post may have been hilarious at the time, but out of context, it can be very off putting to an employer.
A clean slate on Facebook and Twitter can show you are a responsible professional at all times, who knows what is and isn’t appropriate. Employers want that, so you are helping yourself by covering your back.
What else do employers want? Up to date people. Computer literacy is something required in every job these days, and if you lack ICT qualifications, it may be hard to convey how well you can use computers. Social media can help in that. If you are on every site, and using all of them correctly, employers know you are at least a little online savvy.
Again, these tips won’t land you a job or a promotion by themselves. But neither can a CV 90% of the time. Nor can an interview. You need everything working together to get ahead in business, and just because social media is informal, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Show a good grasp of all aspects of social media, and it could one day make all the difference.