Mon | Feb 17, 2020

Caren Waugh | Why your social media footprint matters

Published:Sunday | June 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Caren Waugh

This is the time of year when graduations from educational institutions are taking place and graduates are superexcited to reach another milestone.

For those graduates who are not pursuing higher education, their next goal is to land that dream job. So by now, school leavers would have sent out scores of job applications or would be in the process of uploading career correspondence documents to various organisations' portals.

Learning the art of good rÈsumÈ writing and preparing for the job interview is always emphasised. But another very important area that graduates need to pay keen attention to is how they have been using social media.

Employers are meticulous when hiring candidates and, therefore, do everything it takes to avoid recruiting high-risk candidates or persons deemed as liabilities to the organisation. It is not only costly to recruit candidates for the same positions repeatedly, but maintaining the reputation of the organisation is paramount to employers.

Potential employees must be aware of the problems their social media footprint can cause them when trying to land that dream job as employers are now using social media to carry out professional assessments on job seekers. Impressive rÈsumÈs and recommendations are no longer enough to convince employers that an individual is the best fit for the job.

What employers are looking for

The number of employers using social media to screen candidates is on the increase. According to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, 70 per cent of employers use social media to screen job seekers before hiring them, up from 11 per cent in 2016.

Therefore, graduates who are seeking employment must be aware of what employers are looking for. It may not be too late to clean up their social media accounts, starting with their profile names and images in order to position themselves to land that dream job.

In addition to academic qualifications, some of the attributes employers are looking for include creativity, passion, good communication skills, Internet savvy, knowledge of the career path the person is interested in, networking with industry players online, what others are saying about the individual, and overall, a professional persona.

Social media has become part of our daily lives and, therefore, reflects who we are by the images and stories we post or the discussions in which we participate.

LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that links employers to employees, but employers are also performing Google and YouTube searches, filtering through blogs and visiting other social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram as part of the recruiting process.

Some questions potential employees must bear in mind:

1. Is your social media account reflecting insightful information?

2. Are you participating in discussions based on your career choice?

3. Are you a team player or outgoing based on your discourse?

4. Are you culturally fit?

5. Are your photos appropriate or professional?

Social media is a global community where we meet and interact with our friends and family.

Our constitution also supports free speech, therefore, we do not have any control over what shows up on our feed. So it is very important to be vigilant and quickly remove any offensive information and inappropriate or provocative images that friends or even groups that you network with may post as this may be deemed a red flag by employers and, therefore, cause you to miss that great job opportunity.

As you seek to enter the next phase of your professional life, be mindful that first impressions last. Although you may think that your social media account is your private space, ensure that it reflects how you really want employers to see you. Be careful of the language you use and the images you post or even those you network with.

It's not too late to reposition your brand on social media in order to reflect that confident and knowledgeable professional that employers are looking for so that you can fulfil your career dream.

Think before you click or post!

n Caren A. Waugh is a communications specialist and social media blogger.