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Social Media Screening: How to Make Yourself "Online Attractive"

Posted by: Mark Burslem

The Technology Age, the Social Media Age, the Always Online Age. Call it what you will. Many of us now have profiles and accounts on social media platforms, and many of us are dedicated to updating our profiles and staying knowledgeable about the current trends. Through opinionated tweets/posts, memes that we share, and snazzy new profile pictures of our latest evening out with friends, we are actually creating a large footprint that employers can access easily. And once they have found us on the more casual platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we are providing them with an entirely different dimension of ourselves as their potential next employee. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that LinkedIn is the only social media platform that a recruiter, HR professional, or any other kind of employer will use when “screening” potential new employees. LinkedIn can be great for displaying our professional sides – for listing our work experiences, our education and the awards/societies we might have earned and been involved in, the skills that we have developed (all of which can be endorsed by other people, which can further the legitimacy of your skill claims), and the “interests” or “followed” accounts, many of which will be professional accounts themselves: inspirational entrepreneurs, successful businesses, exciting start-ups and NFPOs. 

And our interactions on LinkedIn are likely to be more professional, too, for some basic reasons: by treating the platform more professionally, we simply behave in kind and censor our online responses and self-edit ourselves far more than on a platform like Facebook, where opinions can often run riot. Generally speaking, the average LinkedIn user is also more likely to use a platform like LinkedIn during working hours, given the work associations. 

No matter how professional and qualified and skilled you can use your LinkedIn profile to purport yourself to be, a politically insensitive tweet, lewd photograph, or endorsement of a controversial figure, could lead to your next employer being put off on the basis that a portion of the screening and interview process for a prospective new employee includes trying to conclude whether or not they will be able to fit into the hiring company’s ethos and culture. 

So, without further ado, here are some handy tips to consider when thinking about how to operate your social media accounts if you’re also looking for a new job!

  • Privacy settings. A lot of people are turning to their privacy settings for any photos that they do not want non-followers and non-friends to be able to see. These functions on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can include forcing new viewers of your profile to “request” to follow you, rather than simply follow you in one click and have access to your profile. In many cases, these social media platforms have also upgraded their interfaces to include functions that will enable the user to click on their photo or status/post/tweet and decide who they would like to see it. Options include catch-all phrases like Everyone; Friends Only; Only Me.
  • Stop and think. Is this new post or photo potentially offensive? Does it fit in with what a professional work place would endorse? If not, perhaps think twice about uploading.
  • The other you. If you desperately desire a social media account that is entirely decadent, filled with extravagant photos of your nights out, then there’s no harm in creating a second account. If need be, use your middle name and surname and drop your first name.
  • Consistency is key. LinkedIn is the widely regarded hub of professional social media networking, but Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and many more online platforms have features that enable you to enhance your profile in a professional way. With dedicated sections of an account profile being set aside for job information, previous job history, interests, and hobbies – the vital trick here is to keep all of these consistent. If a recruiter seeks you out and finds you on five different platforms, you will impress them if all five of your profiles have consistent information regarding your employment history and your professional interests.
  • The proof is in the proofreading. Typos in a friendly conversation on Facebook can be overlooked. Typos in your Bios on any social media platform simply cannot. If you are unsure about any spellings, grammar, or punctuation discrepancies, ask a friend or relative to assist you. Again, an employer is likely to be more attracted to a well-written profile than they are something that is incoherent and reminiscent of the MSN days of the mid noughties.
  • An extension of your CV. I cannot stress this enough. It will only take an employer two or three minutes to scour the internet and find your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and all the rest. If they are doing this having been impressed by the CV you just emailed, and then they discover inappropriate content, your CV is likely to fall into the shredder. Evidence of professionalism, of building networks online, and of being enthusiastic about the industry you’re trying to break into will go a long way towards providing a stable, coherent, and consistent extension of your CV. 

And finally, perhaps most importantly, just use your common sense. Self-editing is the most important thing we can do before posting online. If you have any doubts about the picture or status you’re about to post… then maybe it can be uploaded into a private group chat on Whatsapp or Messenger rather than a large community platform! 



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