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Thursday, May 16, 2013

6 Social Media Tips for Job Candidates

Spring means graduation time, and that means a lot of people are applying for a new job. Making a good first impression is critical.  Everybody knows they need to read and re-read their resume or CV for grammatical errors and typos.  Most will make sure they have the proper interview attire (new suit, of course).  Unfortunately, many candidates don't give a second (or first, for that matter) thought to their social media sites. Whether you are a first-time job candidate or an experienced employee thinking about changing jobs or even careers, after you press your suit and proof-read your resume, you'd better take a long, hard look at your social media sites and make sure you aren't giving off the wrong impression.
It should not come as a surprise to any job candidate that a potential employer is going to look at your social media sites.  Some states (including Illinois, Maryland, and others) prohibit employers from demanding a job candidate to turn over their social media passwords.  That does not, however, prohibit that same employer from looking at anything and everything that is in the public domain.  So, unless you have a Fort Knox level of security set on all of your social media profiles, the information you post (and others post about you), is probably going to be reviewed by potential employers. 
Here are a few tips for job candidates:
1.  Those pictures on Facebook of you and your buddies doing keg stands at Little 500?  Delete them (especially if you aren't of legal drinking age!).  Any pictures that might make your grandmother blush should be similarly removed.  
2.  Set your privacy settings so people cannot tag you in posts, at least temporarily during the job search.  You can't control what your friends post on their own walls, but you can try to control what ends up on your own.
3.  Read your tweets with the eye of a potential employer.  It is great to have strong opinions and convictions, and nobody is saying you can't express them.  But, understand that your strong opinions could limit your potential hiring pool. 
4.  Set yourself apart from other job candidates by using social media to "market" yourself.  You want to be a journalist? Set up a blog to post your articles, papers, short stories, etc.  Musician?  Upload your original music to a music-sharing website like soundcloud
5.  Update your profiles to put in more detail about your education and job experience, as well as your interests.  Did you win any awards while in school?  Treat your social media profiles as an extension of your resume.  Consider setting up a LinkedIn profile to focus on your professional achievements. 
6.  After you've done your own careful review and scrubbing, have a trusted friend or family member review your sites and give you feedback on other areas that need to be addressed. 


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