Have you Googled your name recently? Go ahead. Do it.
What did the Internet reveal about you? Did you like what you saw? Or did it come up with damaging search results that could spell doom for your career?
Fact: We live in a digitally connected world. Everything you do leaves an online footprint and everything you say stays there – forever. Today, most companies and recruitment agencies turn to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as Google to research potential candidates. Recruiters will definitely look you up online when they receive your job application. What they find out about you online often determines what happens next. It pays to be digitally savvy when you’re job hunting.
Make sure you can be found online
The first step you need to take so that prospective recruitment officers can find you online is to make your presence felt – and we’re not talking about those Facebook photos from a friend’s barbecue. Think of all the possible keywords that hiring managers will search for when looking for candidates. Now incorporate these keywords into your social channels, but more importantly, use them liberally in your LinkedIn profile in job titles, skills, job descriptions, etc. Also put them into Twitter, Google+ and your personal blog/website (if you have one).
Have a professional email address
Is your email address the same one you set up 15 years ago when you were a student at uni? Trust us, firstname.lastname@example.org is not doing you any favours in your job search. It makes more sense to set up a mature/practical sounding email account solely for employment purposes. Stick to something with your name in it and stay clear of any childhood nicknames. Your online resume needs to make a good first impression to employers, so make sure your email sounds professional.
Connect with the right people on sites like LinkedIn
Repeat after me: Facebook is for personal relationships; LinkedIn is for professional ones. And never the twain shall meet. While you might have a lovely time reconnecting with your old classmates and comment on everything from their cats to their cupcake-making, save the emojis and LOLs for Facebook. Your persona on LinkedIn needs to be personable but professional.
Having said that, a study from MIT Sloan suggests that a diverse network on social media like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook exposes you to people from different walks of life, varied interests/beliefs and diverse thought processes which can often lead to better ideas and more innovation.
Follow industry news and updates
A recruitment officer wants to know you have done your research on the company and the job on offer. You need to familiarise yourself with the company’s business profile. Have they been in the news recently? Are they going through a period of growth? Have staff been retrenched? Follow key business leaders on LinkedIn and keep abreast of the company and their competitors to find out what new competencies are in demand.
Watch your words online
You need to think twice before you tweet or post a Facebook update. If you wouldn’t say something to somebody’s face, don’t say it online. We constantly hear of people from politicians to professional athletes who lose their jobs all due to what they say on social media.
On the other hand, make sure to amplify your skills and experience by creating and/or sharing content that is relevant and interesting in your niche area of expertise on sites such as LinkedIn so that prospective employers get a glimpse into your work ethic. Follow leaders in your industry and comment on their posts. Chances are, if they see you’re sharing interesting information, they might follow you back.
Check your privacy settings
Make sure your social media accounts are switched to Private so that they whole world is not privy to what you did last Friday night. Quite often, social media platforms like Facebook are set to Public by default. Everything you do on Facebook has privacy implications: who can see your photos? Can your Facebook friends share them? Have you been tagged in posts you’d rather not be in? What personal information are you leaving behind every time you access an app? Think twice before you upload that provocative photo or rant about your boss online. Make it a habit to check your settings regularly to restrict exactly who can see what about you. Google has detailed information on how to maintain your privacy online and remove unwanted content.
Make the most of e-learning courses and online resources
There are heaps of reputed professional courses you can now do from the comfort of your own home. This gives you the flexibility to update your skills while you work or study. For instance, Upskilled has many nationally recognised short online courses on everything from an Introduction to Human Resources to Business Planning. So do your research and take full advantage of what’s on offer.
Marketing a skilled, professional image online for potential employers can be easily done by using the right digital tools and platforms at your disposal. By connecting with the right people and sharing the right information, you could be well on your way to snagging that much-awaited job interview.
For more advice on your job-hunting endeavours, be sure to check out SkillsTalk’s other career-related articles here.