These days, social media can be your saviour (a note sent out on Facebook finds your lost pet within hours) or your worst nightmare (a friend tags you in a photo at a party when your mum thought you were having a study sleepover). The same goes for job hunting and the workplace. Social media is being utilised in nearly every facet of professional and personal interactions. Be it Instagram, Musically, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or You Tube. You can’t escape it, but what you can do is be prepared and use it to your advantage. Here’s how…

First things first, Google yourself! Think I’m kidding? I’m not. If you even for a second scoff the idea that a potential employer wouldn’t do the same before offering you a job, then think again. It’s important to know what they might see when they search using your name or your email. That way, you can be prepared to address anything that might come up.

You are your brand – manage your brand and how you appear online.  It could be the determining factor as to whether you get the job or not.  HR departments actively search to see your online presence. According to careerbuilder.com, 34% of employers have rejected prospective candidates based on something they found on Facebook. What you post and particularly your photos can often be seen by more than just your online friends. Applying for a job in a Vegetarian restaurant might not be a good idea to have a photo eating a side of beef! Or is your application for a healthy lifestyle business and your FB photos show your love for greasy takeout food? Keep your accounts private and keep this in mind next time you post a photo after a big night out. Plus, remove any pics that aren’t suitable right now! You can also change your social media account names to a pseudonym for extra privacy.

Consider your email address – it can be used in a search engine to find out lots about you. Try it!  Like what you see?  Having two email addresses – one for work related and job hunting and a personal one – can work well to keep these separate. It’s a good idea for the ‘work’ to be your name – avoid the sexyhotchick@hotmail.com or drinkingtime@gmail.com – this just doesn’t give the Human Resource Manager (or HRM) confidence in you and your professionalism.

Do use social media to your benefit. Set up a LinkedIn profile (it’s the business FB – a professional site allowing you to connect with like-minded career people and graduates). Even if you are just starting out you’ll find HRM’s often use it to advertise roles and search for potential candidates.  There are industry focussed groups you can join; you can advertise yourself to potential employers, and stay informed on the latest issues and trends in your desired industry. Follow the businesses you have targeted that you’d love to work for – keep up to date with them and their trends – many use Instagram and Facebook to advertise jobs before going further afield.

Don’t overdo it with your social media sites. If you are on everything (and all the time) your potential employer may think you prefer to be online or on your phone rather than talking to people face to face. No matter where you work, your skills will need to be both online and face to face. But don’t become FB friends with all of your colleagues and definitely avoid discussions about your workplace in this forum. This is a big no no! Employers want to hire people they can trust to converse with clients, co-workers and management.

Remember, workplace social media accounts and personal don’t mix. By commenting and actively using your personal social media to engage with your company’s account you are effectively asking colleagues and clients to look at your personal accounts. If you’re not acting professionally on them, then think about the consequences of that. Also, don’t tout yourself as a social expert just because you know your Snapchat from your Musically. Sarah Stevens from Content Society (contentsociety.com.au) says, ‘Social media skills are definitely highly regarded in the workplace today, but your social media savvy of conversing with friends doesn’t necessarily translate to great business social media skills. Business accounts need to consider things like customer service and brand reputation and presentation, so it’s not just as easy as posting a pic and slapping on an emoji.’

If you are engaging with potential Employers online, act in an appropriate and professional manner. Use business language and perhaps ask for a third party introduction. When you send them a message or invite them to connect, think about the language you would use to speak to them face to face and adjust accordingly or if you were walking into their office to ask for a job. It’s ok to ask them if they would be happy to see your resume or keep you in mind for suitable graduate or work experience opportunities – politely!

Finally, Google the business you are applying for or interviewing at. Find out a bit about them and store it away to wow your Interviewer. It’s a pretty simple gesture that will really help you when you do meet with them.

Good luck!

Linda Callander

Linda Callander  

Linda Callander has worked in human resources and recruitment for over 20 years and is now the director of hirewell, a company that helps both individuals and small businesses. They often job ready sessions and do one-one-one career coaching and resume writing for job hunters // www.hirewell.com.au