19 December 2018

In a world where technology is king and where 2.5 billion people are predicted to own a smartphone globally by the end of 2019, it’s safe to say that everyone has some degree of online presence, even if it’s simply having an email address. 

Social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, WhatsApp, SnapChat – the list of sites/apps goes on and on, is without doubt the most powerful tool that the general populous has for finding out about somebody else, whether that’s a celebrity or a relative nobody, like you or I. 

Unsurprisingly, it’s also used by potential employers to dig into the psyche of a prospective employee, or simply to check that who they are meeting at 10 o’clock looks like a decent human being. So, take a second to think about what’s on your various social profiles… Worried? 

Everyone has been tagged in photos they’re not proud of, or written that comment on a post while not a their best and immediately regretted it. The question is, would you be happy for someone who holds the golden ticket to employment paradise to see them? Unlikely. 

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates and see if they’d be a good company fit, and 43% use it to check up on current employees. An earlier Guardian Jobs Recruiter survey states that LinkedIn is the most searched (96%), followed by Facebook (56%, Twitter (41%), and Instagram (7%). Naturally LinkedIn would be the most popular platform for recruiters, but Facebook is the next best for getting a sense of who the ‘real’ candidate is. 

Have you ever looked yourself up online? Search for your name – as a recruiter would most likely do – and see what you find. Recruiters want to know that you are someone they could work with or would be happy putting forward to their client for interview. 

Do your search results suggest that? The so-called ‘digital footprint’ is pretty easy to trace, and potential employers will factor where the footprints lead into deciding your future – or not – at their company. 

It should go without saying that in a digital world anything posted is instantly viewable, and within minutes hundreds, or potentially thousands of people will have seen it. That point is sometimes missed by those who choose to vent their feelings about things or people online, complaining about their bosses, colleagues, etc. The six degrees of separation is alive and well. 

Everyone, somehow, is six or fewer steps away from being connected to any other person across the globe, so ranting and raving about the idiot on the shop floor or that person who never holds the door open in the mornings is less than wise. We have all heard the stories about people who moan about their jobs online and then are told not to bother going in the next day because their boss has seen their posts – don’t be that person. 

When it comes to photos that you have taken or been tagged in, think about if those images sum you up as a person. This includes your profile picture. If not, delete or untag yourself in them. This is the very first impression someone will have of you, and bad ones are almost impossible to reverse. 

Social media can be your friend when it comes to looking for a job, though. Use it to show off! Share articles that you find interesting, comment on things that you have an opinion on, and build up your LinkedIn profile with useful contacts and join groups that focus on your dream job sectors. Use social media to demonstrate to potential employers that you are someone worth investing in.