With the next wave of undergraduates taking their first steps into their university career, it is that time of year when the employment market is full of newly qualified graduates seeking their initial step on the career ladder. A top notch degree alone will do little for your employment prospects if your online brand isn’t in order. With recent statistics suggesting that more than two thirds of employers have changed their mind about a candidate based on their online presence, it is perhaps more important than ever to ensure that your online brand makes you shine. Why do employers look you up online, and more importantly what do you need to do to guarantee you stand out in the right way?
More often than not, a hiring manager will Google your name for the simple reason that they want to see who they are meeting. You may very well do the same about them –after all, we are all curious by nature. Ensure, therefore, that any pictures on your social media accounts – those that are publicly available – don’t paint you in a bad light. A Facebook picture of you enjoying a drunken night out might be appropriate for your close friends but think long and hard about whether it is suitable for a potential employer. What image would this portray?
Interviewers may also Google you to get further information about your activities and interests outside of work or education. With more competition for graduate jobs than ever before, employers are looking for ways to differentiate and whittle down applicants and this is one way to do just this. If you had a heavy involvement in your school or university’s sport team or you took part in an event for a local charity, for example, this may be covered online. If you have done volunteer work or taken part in local sports events, that aren’t online, ensure that this is detailed in your CV to increase your chances of being placed on the employers shortlist pile.
Social media and blogging platforms are today’s norm – for both employers and candidates alike. It stands to reason that hiring managers will look to these platforms for further information about potential staff members. With plenty of news stories in recent months about employees being reprimanded – or in extreme cases dismissed – for inappropriate comments on social media, businesses will want to know that they are not potentially hiring someone with the wrong work ethos .
On a more positive note, blogs and social media can be a fantastic way for employers to see what subjects candidates are writing about – for example, trends in the market or why they want to break into a certain industry.
It is imperative that you have a professional social media presence to not only show employers that you are serious about a career in their field, but to also extend your reach. LinkedIn, in particular, is fundamental and is one of the first places recruiters and organisations will turn to, to seek out and find more information on candidates. If you have yet to set yourself up a LinkedIn profile, do so now. It serves as a great extension of your CV, and can also directly link you to hiring managers and organisations via the Group and LinkedIn Company Page functions.
Despite it becoming the new norm for employers to Google candidates prior to an interview, too many people ruin their chances of success by having inappropriate content online. So before your next application or interview, make sure your online brand screams ‘hire me!’ Follow the advice above and the checklist below to ensure every chance of success. Good luck.
• Google yourself – would you be happy to interview yourself based on what you find?
• Ensure tight privacy settings on social media – audit all your channels and for those that have privacy settings, like Facebook, make sure they are secure.
• Use LinkedIn as an extension of your CV to become visible to employers and extend your network.
• Make sure all content you produce that is online – LinkedIn profiles or blogs, for example – is error free. A tiny spelling mistake can be the difference between the shortlist and the do not interview pile.
• Regularly update and check your online presence – do you have new skills or work experience to add to LinkedIn, for example?
– Jodie Finn, National Accounts Manager at Venn Group