If you have at some point started to make a social media profile for yourself on LinkedIn because someone else told you it would be a good idea, good for you! You’ve made a good decision. If on the other hand, all you did was start it and then ignored it, I want you to know that it’s now doing you a lot more harm than you’re aware of.
You can be excused and forgiven if you are unaware of the damage you are self-inflicting with a spotty social media profile, but after reading on, you’ll no longer be able to blame ignorance. So reading on is a good thing!
Let’s agree I hope on one basic reality; in 2015 technology is everywhere around us, and employers like any other group of people, want every advantage they can find and use, in this case to select the best possible candidates to work for them. Prior to the rise of personal computers and the internet in general, the primary method of attracting candidates was to put an ad in a newspaper (traditional media) and receive resumes. At that point they then had to sift through them, pick out possible candidates, interview them and after verifying things with their references, they offered someone a job.
So much for the past. Whether you like it or not, are technology friendly or not, things have changed drastically. For starters, most jobs aren’t in traditional media sources like newspapers at all. Running down to some employment centre to look at all the jobs on some wall is pretty dated too. Ever stop and wonder where the employment centre’s get those jobs from anyhow? The people who are posting those jobs on the walls are doing so only for the benefit of those without computer skills themselves, because anyone with a general familiarity with a keyboard and the internet can in 10 minutes learn how to find jobs online for themselves.
Many employers are posting job opportunities on social media platforms such as LinkedIn; and while I’m not financially rewarded for touting LinkedIn, I recommend it to you. But it’s not really about where to find jobs that I’m writing about so let’s not get sidetracked. What I want to advise you on is what many of us already know; many employers are using social media to find talent, review profiles to get to know job applicants, and most important to see what other people are saying about the person who is looking for work with them.
So you’ve applied for a job with some company let’s say, and you feel you meet all of their stated qualifications. You’ve submitted a resume and cover letter that have you feeling pretty confident….and now you wait. Surely they’ll call. But no call comes. What went wrong? You are now confused, disappointed, a little resentful, maybe a little bitter.
Now I don’t know for certain, but one huge possibility is this: the employer upon receiving your resume and cover letter was moderately impressed. Instead of calling you in immediately as was the past practice, the employer turned to the internet to see if you have an online presence, and wants to compare yours with that of the others who are competing with you for that coveted interview.
So they check out your competition. They see photos of well-groomed people, they read interesting summaries the people have composed about themselves, they read their work history and what the person learned in each job; much more fleshed out and impressive than the two bullets under each job on a resume. Now they see that others have endorsed their skills and some even have recommendations written by their connections verifying how good they are at their jobs, how professional they are and what great work ethics they have.
They then turn to you. They find your profile has no photo, so they have no immediate emotional connection. What are you hiding they wonder? The jobs you’ve done are there but it looks like you just cut and pasted your resume so there’s nothing new to learn. You only have connections with 3 other people and your 5 endorsements come from these three, one of which might be your mom because the last name is the same for her and you. No one has penned a recommendation of your work either, so how good can you be?
The only things worse than the above would be a photo on your profile of a kitten instead of your face, or no profile whatsoever. Having no profile tells an employer that in this age of technology savvy people, you’re obsolete. You don’t get it. You’re not connected. You either don’t get technology, don’t understand it’s importance, or you do get it and don’t care to utilize its benefits. How will that help them? And the kitten? Just silly.
Get a social media profile and put enough effort into it that it markets your value to others as you would like. LinkedIn actually guides you through the process with suggestions. Reach out to someone online with a good profile and connect. Model yours after theirs if that helps.
Even if the thought of job searching isn’t in your plans, develop your profile. Others will be attracted to it, want to network with you and that creates opportunities. If you find someone helps you out, write a recommendation for them; they’ll appreciate it and may reciprocate.