Is Your Social Media Persona Job Search-Ready?

June 5, 2015

Illustration by Marcia Staimer

Illustration by Marcia Staimer

By Kathy Dodd

When was the last time you Googled yourself? If you haven’t in some time, you should. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest appear in search engine results. This allows hiring managers to get better insight into your personality beyond the resume and cover letter.

“Lots of employers will Google a candidate and scan their social media to see what they’re posting and how they may be representing themselves,” said Christine Cruzvergara, assistant dean and executive director of University Career Services. “While this happens across most industries, it is definitely most prevalent in media and communications fields. After all, the employer will want to make sure a candidate is well versed in how to use these platforms effectively, appropriately and in an engaging manner.”

Employers are also worried if you have zero online presence (you are the digital generation, right?).

So how can social media help (or hurt) you during your job search? Here are five quick tips to ensure your overall digital presence is job search ready.

  1. Review and Manage your Public Persona: Cruzvergara recommends that you manage your digital presence. “What you put out there represents your digital footprint and you have a choice about what to post, how you want to represent yourself and what you want to show others.” Look at your privacy settings and take control of that digital footprint on all social media platforms. While you’re at it, make sure you also have a complete and robust profile (especially on LinkedIn).
  1. Update Your Profile Photo: Guy Kawasaki in his book, “The Art of Social Media,” recommends one profile image across all platforms. According to Kawasaki, “Your picture is your social media brand.” You don’t need a professional headshot, but select one that is flattering to you.
  1. Create a Brand Statement: Most social media profiles will allow you to include a short blurb about who you are. This is your digital elevator pitch! Take time to write one that is memorable and, like your profile photo, try to use it across all platforms.
  1. Make Connections: Connect with the George Mason University Alumni group on LinkedIn and look for members in your field of interest. If you’re interested in a particular company or industry, follow them on Twitter and Facebook to get their latest news and updates. Don’t forget to let those connections know that you’re looking for a new role!
  1. Be Engaged: It’s great to have a polished digital profile, but not so great if it’s a polished inactive digital profile. Update your status a few times a week, provide content to the LinkedIn groups that you’ve joined, tweet interesting articles within your field of interest, and share relevant content on Google+. This will not only show that you’re an intelligent, qualified candidate, but you’re also a resource for useful information.

One final piece of advice: Social media works both ways. Most companies carefully curate their social media content and manage their public personas in a way that you often won’t get a full view of their corporate culture. Sites like Glassdoor allow you to read reviews written by former and current employees, but you should also make connections through social media and ask the questions you really want to know before your first interview.

Kathy Dodd is the social media manager for strategic communications.