Consider this: A June CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals revealed that 43% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. While the report discusses the negative repercussions of social media, it also illustrates how a positive online impression can sway employers:
“One third (33 percent) of employers who research candidates on social networking sites say they’ve found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate. What’s more, nearly a quarter (23 percent) found content that directly led to them hiring the candidate.”
If you’ve been avoiding social networks, here are 10 reasons you should build a positive, professional online presence to help you stand apart from the average candidate:
1. Your Personality Fits
46% of the hiring managers and human resource professionals surveyed said that reviewing the candidates’ social media content provided a good sense of whether the candidate would be a fit within the company. How often have you thought: ‘If only I could get in front of someone and prove I am a good fit”? With social media, you can inject your style in status updates and even your LinkedIn summary. Sure, your skills and experience qualify you for jobs, but your personality is one more way to seal the deal.
2. You Are Who You Say You Are
When employers see how your background information supports your qualifications for the job, you look like the real deal. 45% of employers liked the idea of being able to validate a candidate’s experience by checking them out on social media. Make sure your LinkedIn and other social network profiles are consistent and close matches with your résumé.
3. You Provide a Professional Image
What you say in your bio and on social profiles provides hiring managers with a glimpse of your professionalism. 43% of employers were impressed with the professional image presented by a candidate’s site. Use a high-quality photo (preferably a head shot) with a neutral background that’s free of distractions, such as pets or people. Wear work appropriate-clothes – no prom pictures or beach shots. And be sure to pay attention to small details, such as grammar, punctuation capitalization and spacing.
4. You Show a Wide Range of Interests
40% of employers selected candidates who came across as well-rounded through information on their profiles and social media updates. Don’t be afraid to show your volunteer involvement and other activities that show how you enjoy spending your free time. One word of warning: If these activities appear too frequently or divulge personal preferences, it can have a negative impact. Avoid mentioning controversial or extreme interests.
5. You Demonstrate Great Communication Skills
You say you have excellent communication skills, but how can you further provide proof? 40% of employers said social network profiles and status updates offered evidence of great communication skills. As with your profile, punctuation, spelling and grammar are important in tweets, too. And remember to behave appropriately online. Avoid arguments, profanity and negative rants.
6. You’re Creative
Often, employers seek candidates who can think outside the box. 36% of employers said a candidate’s creativity on social media made a difference in the hiring decision. Show off your creative abilities online by displaying an infographic résumé, using new technology or posting clever status updates.
7. You’ve Received Awards and Accolades
In your cover letter or resume, you may have said you were a top performer or gained recognition for your stellar accomplishments. 31% of employers found proof of such recognition online and said it worked in the candidates’ favor. Snap a photo or grab a screen shot to capture your success. Then share it for all to see, and embed it in your LinkedIn profile.
8. You Have Great References
30% of companies liked seeing references posted about a candidate. Unsolicited or nonreciprocal recommendations are powerful. LinkedIn allows you to display recommendations within your profile, so be sure to ask a boss or happy customer to write one for you. You can make it even easier for them when you provide suggestions or key points you believe are worth mentioning.
9. You Interacted With the Employer
Companies with social media accounts want to engage in conversation. 24% of employers said they liked it when a candidate interacted with one of their social media accounts. Check the company’s website to see which social networks are listed, especially the accounts related to careers. Always be positive and complimentary, and ask questions beyond: “Did you get my application?”
10. You Have a Large Following
14% of employers see a large following or subscriber base as a positive. If people are following you, then you might just have something interesting or valuable to say. Thought leadership and community engagement can benefit the company. Build your following organically by providing information that is valuable to your target audience. Interact with like-minded professionals online. Gaining a following isn’t easy. But, if you are a good social community citizen, it could be an asset to your future employer.
Companies are checking you out online, so why not use these tools to enhance your qualifications?
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at CareerSherpa!
About the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa, and follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!