A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.
– John C. Maxwell
OK hands up, how many of you have actually paused to think about that question properly?
“I’ve got a LinkedIn profile you say, and I’m on twitter.” Chances are many of us also have Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media profiles. Excellent, but what do they all say about you? Are they consistent in conveying what your brand is? Do you know what your brand is? Are you consciously cultivating that brand or just blowing in the breeze like a piece of scrap paper?
You might be thinking, “hey, what’s with the Spanish inquisition?”. The reason is this. Increasingly, employers and recruiters are conducting social media audits on candidates and they aren’t just sticking to LinkedIn.
Julie Mazzei, lead consultant, at global communications recruiter, VMA Group, says: “Everything you put on social media says something about you, so even something like ranting on tweets about trains being late, or someone cutting you up in the car, says something negative about you.”
Why LinkedIn is a must
Having an attractive LinkedIn profile is a prerequisite, yet so many people still have just copied and pasted their CVs at best. Some companies have even moved away from using CVs completely.
Rob Brown, Managing Partner of Manchester PR and digital comms agency Rule 5 says: “We ask candidates to send us a link to their LinkedIn profile as it’s easier to access, it’s a standard format and because it’s in public isn’t likely to contain the bullsh*t you see on some CVs.”
Thankfully, it doesn’t take long and there are a wealth of free resources out there to help you. Firstly, check out the excellent and comprehensive, How To Really Use LinkedIn book by Jan Vermieren and Bert Verdonk.
If you are a visual person like me then infographics might be your thing. If that’s the case then the website www.linkhumans.com have created a very useful one right here.
However, be sure it’s accurate. Mazzei again: “I see examples consistently where job titles on CVs do not match those on LinkedIn. There may be a good reason for it, but it’s important not to leave the impression you may not be being honest.”
Another thing to be mindful of when thinking about LinkedIn is in relation to references. Modern employment law has rendered references almost ineffectual, as it’s impossible to be negative, or often even plain honest, about a candidate. Recruiters and employers get round this though by using LinkedIn to contact referees and have unofficial conversations about candidates. It might be illegal but it happens.
Exiting in as graceful and professional way as possible may just help you down the road.
The importance of an audit
So you’ve got your LinkedIn profile sorted and it’s packed full of useful content, recommendations and has a professional picture. Excellent, but what about the rest? Does what you have posted on your other social media channels fit with your professional LinkedIn persona?
Sadly, the separation between personal life and professional life has become irrevocably blurred thanks to social media.
As soon as something is posted it’s out there for eternity. However, you can remove them from your own site. So that drunken selfie, or incriminating pose with a blowup doll, in a field, on your best friend’s stag-do, really need to go.
Some good questions to ask yourself around this are:
Would I be embarrassed if my boss saw this?
How might I feel if this was raised in an interview for a job I really wanted?
Could this get me into hot water legally?
What would my Mum say if she saw this?
If you think the last question might be taking things a step to far, then consider this story from the Daily Telegraph, Tweeting about your bad day could lose you your job. Scary stuff. OK it might not be common but it can and does happen as this DVLA employee found out to their cost.
So what might you do to clean up your social media footprint?
Questions to ask yourself
– What time am I posting?
You might be asking ‘what’s that got to do with my social media presence?’ The simple answer is post are time stamped so it’s easy for everyone to see whether you are posting instead of working. Not such a big deal for a one-off. But do it multiple times a day and what message does that send to your current employers or even future ones? Have you just de-selected your from consideration for a job or even a promotion and you don’t even know it?
– What am I posting?
Remember that person from the DVLA? What you post can also have an impact on your presence and how people perceive you. Criticizing your employer or colleagues isn’t clever, neither are drunken selfies, overly crude, rude or explicit words and images. Try and balance these with something professional and or interesting. Some commentators suggest taking a thirds approach to your content.
My own personal view is that it’s a shame that social media has the power to potentially put limitations on people because of something they may have said or done in haste or in a different context from work. I hope it doesn’t turn us all into boring stereotypes, devoid of individuality and personality, too scared to post because of potential ramifications down the line. There’s no reason why it should though, if we get just smart about what we post. Me included.
What do you think? Have you used social media when recruiting and de-selected a candidate because of what you found?
What if that was done to you? Do you think it’s fair and reasonable practice?