by Alan Katzman, Founder of Social Assurity LLC
Many articles have been written warning about social media’s impact on the job search relying on the blurred lines between personal and professional information to make their point. With a predilection towards possible negative outcomes, the prevailing default advice favors hiding social media activities from potential employers. This perspective and the prevailing analysis is dated, misplaced and inevitably leads to irrelevant outcomes.
By comparison, understanding the distinction between private versus public information provides a better backdrop for the contextual argument and offers concrete guidance for all of us to follow when it comes to using social media for career advantage.
Many will argue that pointing hiring managers to your social media profiles is not necessarily a good idea. They support their argument by claiming your resume should be as concise and to-the-point as possible, and listing your social media profiles will take up valuable space. They also argue that most of our social accounts are personal, not for business, so putting them on the resume is often irrelevant.
Addressing the last point first, whenever we post to social media we are essentially publishing that information for public consumption. You should consider anything posted online to be “public” no matter what your “privacy” settings are. Wikipedia defines social media as “the interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.” Therefore, whether the posting is professional, political, religious, familial, sexual, sophomoric or intellectual in nature, by voluntarily placing it in the public domain via social media, we are sharing that information with others and it becomes a part of our individual discoverable public record.
Each one of us has every opportunity to keep our personal thoughts, beliefs and experiences private and off the public record by simply choosing not to post them to social media. Once posted, however, building a fence around what is personal versus what is professional is virtually impossible. Can we rationally rely on the Internet to properly filter, categorize and respect public posts of personal information? Of course not.
In the context of resumes and the job search, remember that the ultimate hiring decision has always been a subjective one and most often comes down to personal characteristics and soft skills. Interviews and reference checks were once the sole domain of determining whether a candidate is “likeable” and whether that candidate possesses the personality traits to work well with the team and/or mesh with the company’s culture. For decades now, responsible employers have been performing pre-employment background screenings looking at candidates’ credit ratings as well as their criminal and civil court records which can all be classified as personal information (yet readily available to the public). Social media has encroached onto this domain and now provides employers with a fast, easy, efficient and inexpensive way to assess a candidate’s character, maturity, authenticity, credibility and overall “likeability” before incurring the costs of an interview and background screening.
According to a recent JobVite survey, just about every employer will eventually take a look at a candidate’s social media activities as part of the recruiting/hiring decision process. Therefore, making that inspection easier and less time consuming by being transparent and directing employers to your social media profile links will not only be appreciated by the potential employer but can also be advantageous to the candidate as well. Directing employers to social media profile links eliminates the risk of mistaken identity especially if the candidate has a common name. What could be worse than being disqualified from a job because of a stupid post made by someone with the same name?
Moreover, businesses are coming to realize that their prospects, customers and clients are also using social media to learn about the businesses and employees they are doing business with. So the lines between personal and professional are even further blurred as an employee’s personal life as reflected on Facebook and Twitter may attach to and potentially impact the reputation of the employer. Realizing this, employers now possess a pecuniary interest in the personal social media activities of their employees.
Given all of these arguments, we believe it is imperative for candidates to always provide links to their social media profiles on their resumes.
Social Assurity suggests placing a URL to a prepared social media landing page at the top of your resume alongside your telephone number and email address. This obviates the need to take up valuable real estate on your resume by listing each of your social media profiles separately.
Google Plus works extremely well as a landing page URL. The Google Plus URL is clean and descriptive (i.e. https://plus.google.com/
In conclusion, learning how to curate and manage your social media profiles in support of your job search has quickly become a fundamental life skill. Providing people with access to your profiles shows you have nothing to hide and also shows you have a fundamental understanding of how social media integrates with the realities of the business world.
The first step in leveraging social media to make a powerful and meaningful virtual first impression upon employers is to make sure you can be found rather than deactivating social media accounts or creating aliases to remain hidden. Candidates must view their social media as an asset as opposed to a liability by saying “if they’re going to be looking at me then let me give them something to see.” For example, you can begin using Twitter as a professional networking tool or create a Pinterest board that visually mirrors your resume. It is also important for your resume and LinkedIn profile to be completely in sync and to properly categorize your Facebook friends with privacy controls set accordingly.
Given the large number of applicants to the most competitive jobs and the continuing growth of the hidden job market, it is imperative that serious applicants look at their digital presence as an asset and a natural extension of their professional resumes in order to be found through the social network and then to set themselves apart from other qualified candidates.