Expert Q&A with Robin Blunck – Social Media and Your Career
Robin Blunck is our very own social media specialist at Carrington College. Robin has been part of the team for several years, and is our in-house ‘guru’ on all things social.
I sat down with Robin to discuss the topic “social media and your career”. Robin talks about the impact that social media profiles can have on your career prospects, and why it’s important, as a Carrington student or graduate, to always remain professional on and offline.
Thanks for your time Robin; why is this subject so important for students and graduates?
As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time online. I come across a lot of things that could, positively or negatively, impact someone’s career. I can’t emphasize enough just how important it is to maintain a positive online profile. There are a lot of people who don’t understand that sharing certain things on social media are a bad idea and can affect your job – either the job you’re currently at or the one you want. However, it’s important that people aren’t completely scared of social media either, it can work to your advantage just as much as it could hurt you.
Is it really that important? Do recruiters really search online?
More recruiters are researching online than ever before. A recent survey of hiring managers and human resources executives, conducted by Jobvite, showed the trend of ‘social recruiting’ is increasingly popular. Here are a few stats from the survey*:
- 93% of recruiters said they will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision.
- LinkedIn® is the favored platform, used by 94% of recruiters, followed by Facebook at 66%, Twitter at 52%, and Google+ at 21%. 15% of recruiters even reviewed YouTube.
- 73% of recruiters have hired a candidate through social media, with LinkedIn® (79%), Facebook (26%), and Twitter (14%) being the most popular networks they have used to hire people.
- 73% of recruiters surveyed plan to increase their investment in social recruiting.
So what are recruiters looking for?
They use social networks to look for things like professional experience, specific hard skills, whether your job history matches your résumé, if you’d be a good cultural fit, if you’ve made any industry-related posts, or if you have any mutual connections. Of course, they’re also looking for red flags.
What kind of red flags?
Any form of risqué social media content really. They are all pretty obvious, but things like profanity, illegal drug references, sexual posts, alcohol related posts, even references to guns are viewed negatively by the majority of recruiters. Poor spelling and/or grammar is also a huge negative. In fact typos on social media are viewed more negatively than profanity, or posts involving alcohol!
That same survey stated that over half of recruiters have reconsidered their views of a candidate based purely on their social profile, with 61% of those reconsiderations being negative.
So what should students and graduates do?
Firstly, check your privacy settings. Social media sites can (and do) change their default privacy settings from time to time, and that can change your personal settings. Things you thought were private might be public, so it’s always a good idea to check the privacy settings for all your accounts regularly.
Google yourself to see what comes up. Then clean up your social media profiles. Delete, delete, delete. There is some truth to the belief that you can’t ever really permanently delete something from the internet, but you can do your best to make it difficult to find.
It’s also important that you let your friends know that you are trying to keep your online presence clean. For example, a friend tagging you in a compromising photo on Facebook is just as visible, and potentially damaging, as if you’d published it yourself. Always keep track of who’s tagging you, and don’t be afraid to ‘untag’ yourself if necessary.
What kind of things should be deleted, or even better, never posted?
According to a Career Builder survey** last year, the top two negatives mentioned by employers were provocative or inappropriate photos/posts, and posts about excessive drinking or any kind of drug use. And don’t burn bridges, a third of employers said they’d rejected a candidate for badmouthing a previous employer.
If you’re unhappy with your school, an employer, a brand, a friend – reach out to them privately to see if it can be corrected before ranting or threatening them…don’t get into online arguments. They can get petty very quickly and just make both parties look immature. And it should also go without saying that anything remotely discriminatory or dishonest is a no-no.
My best advice is don’t post anything your grandma wouldn’t approve of. If you have to think about whether you should or shouldn’t post something, don’t put it out there.
So aside from deleting photos and posts that could be viewed negatively, what else can they do?
I mentioned earlier that there are positives that can be taken from online profiles too. Use the opportunity to showcase yourself, your skills, and your personality. Employers aren’t expecting you to have completely clean and boring profiles – some are actually suspicious if you do+! There are things that can make you more attractive as a candidate, or that can confirm an employer’s decision to offer you a position.
What kind of things can do that?
Always portray yourself professionally; make sure your public profile offers a good representation of your true personality, and try to show that you’re a well-rounded person with a range of interests. Make sure to share relevant posts to your field too; that shows you have a passion for your career, and that you try to keep on top of the industry information that’s out there.
Try to make sure your profiles are engaging and creative, and avoid typos or bad grammar. Employers value great communication skills in most fields, and that starts with an accurate résumé and well put together personal profiles. It’s also really important that your background information matches your résumé and any qualifications you claim to have, so always be honest on both!
And if you’ve received awards at school or in your current job, share those positives. Volunteering is viewed very positively – so if you have helped your community in any way, don’t be afraid to share it.
*Jobvite.com – Social Recruiting Survey Results – August 2014
** Careerbuilder.com Survey – June 2013 – http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=6%2F26%2F2013&id=pr766&ed=12%2F31%2F2013