Networking to get ahead
Leading experts give tips on how to get noticed by employers on social media — and what not to do. Ruth O’Connor reports
WITH employers demanding more from potential employees it’s valuable to consider the power of social media to stake your place in the job market. An engaging presence online can help you build contacts, showcase your passion, or mark you out as a great potential employee.
Personal branding expert Maeve Ahern O’Neill believes that LinkedIn is vital when looking to enhance career prospects. “Although it is viewed as a padded version of a CV, it is a way to showcase more than a CV can,” she says.
“Upload projects from college or group work to show how you worked in a team environment, comment on what you learned from work experience, show how you progressed from college to work, and post articles of interest.”
Michelle Murphy, director of Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group says that employers are looking more closely at candidates’ online presence before making a decision about whether to proceed with them. “Whether you are a graduate looking for your first job or looking to move into a senior role, you must consider how a prospective employer may view your application once they search through your social media footprint,” she says.
Murphy advises anyone in the jobsearch process to keep all public online interaction professional. “Never post anything you wouldn’t want a prospective employer or current manager to see and always assume that, no matter how strict your privacy settings are, your post may still be seen,” she says. “Jobseekers should beware that subtle social media mistakes can damage their opportunity in the long term.”
EXPERT OPINIONS: Zahid Aslam, lecturer in digital marketing at Cork Institute of Technology
Make yourself into a better candidate:
Follow people in your industry and see what they are saying. Don’t just fill up your stream with people — you’ll end up turning your Twitter feed into the most boring place ever. Take time to look back at someone’s tweets before you follow them. If you are anywhere that shows you up in a professional light, make sure it gets published. Conferences, working in a charity, helping a friend out with business, etc. Get noticed: Find out who the senior people are in an organisation of interest to you. Follow them, post about stuff they are interested in using the hashtags that that are using. If you are at the same event make sure you let them know — your tweet might read: “I wonder if @... will be at the @… conference today?” Pass the cursory checks: Twitter isn’t Facebook or Snapchat and most people don’t use it for the “Here’s a video of me at 3am with a traffic cone on my head” type stuff, but sounding off online can also look bad. There’s nothing wrong with tweeting about sport or other interests, but anything vitriolic or nasty
won’t make you look good.
Show engagement with your industry:
If you work in customer service or in any digital role you need to be on social media. Employers will use social media to find out whether you have a genuine passion for something. For example, if you are going to work in the cosmetics industry and you have a history of featuring cosmetics on your blog or Instagram feed it is a real plus point. Find out what works: If a HR person or recruiter contacts you directly, make sure you ask how they found you.
Aoife Porter, digital marketing specialist and founder of Bua Marketing.
Establish your reputation:
Your name is your brand and your social media channels are your shopfront. Google yourself and see what profiles are showing up for your name. Delete or deactivate old profiles. Monitor your brand: Google Alerts is a free tool that monitors all sites that Google can index. Set alerts up for your name and the employers you’re considering working for. Find out what is being said about you online by getting alerts when you’re mentioned.
Think twice before hitting that ‘post’ button:
Everything you put online is online somewhere forever. Even if your privacy settings are strict, people can find ways to get a view of your profiles. Your content can be screengrabbed before you delete it. Even if you’re not job hunting now, your personal brand is always at risk if you post inappropriate content. Be better than beige: Curate what you post online but be original, be creative and where appropriate have an opinion that’s your own. These are qualities that are so important for almost any progressive organisation. Spell-check everything: I can’t believe how many times I’ve seen professional people make the simplest grammatical errors. It says that you’re not somebody who pays attention to the details. Link to your blog: If you have a website or blog, make sure to include the link in your social media channel profiles. Having a website or blog in your professional area shows your appetite to be an expert and also shows skills such as attention to detail, writing skills, visual flair, and ability to engage and be creative.
Michelle Murphy, director at Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group
Consider your audience: Even if a user isn’t posting offensive or inappropriate content themselves, other users (friends, family, and other connections) can inadvertently undermine their professional reputation online. You need to really understand your audience. When that audience is mixing personal and professional, it may cause misunderstandings. Beware of old content: One of the most important things to remember about online content is its permanence.
Don’t pester recruiters online:
Keep social media interactions with hiring companies to a minimum. Refrain from sending LinkedIn requests or bombarding the company’s Facebook profile with comments. Balance your content: A prospective employer may be reviewing your personal vs professional content so ensure there is not a higher ratio of non-work-related posts on your feed. Watch your timing: Because most online content is time-stamped a prospective employer can determine if you have been regularly posting content during work hours — so beware. Stay active: Participate in group discussions, share expertise, point someone to an article, and be a thought leader if you are serious about making your social media footprint work for you.
Maeve Ahern O’Neill, creative director of The Branding of Me.
Make relevant connections:
Make connections on LinkedIn that are relevant to your profession. Follow company pages and see who others follow to expand your network. Upload articles to showcase your interest in your field. Join LinkedIn groups. Set up a blog: Setting up a blog allows your audience to really get a feel for you — your accomplishments, skills and career progression. Schedule content: Each platform has its own unique posting schedule. Use scheduling tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule posts to keep it active. Use Twitter and Instagram more frequently than other platforms as they are faster moving. Images: Pictures catch the eye of readers so stockpile quality images and use them.
From left: Zahid Aslam, Aoife Porter, Michelle Murphy, and Maeve Ahern O’Neill.