Avoid these social media mistakes when job searching

Social media helps your job search in many ways, from profiling your expertise to finding out about new opportunities, but if you’re not careful it can also hinder your chance of securing your ideal job.

Most jobseekers are sensible enough not to talk negatively about their current employer, colleagues or customers on social media, but do you also check for discrepancies between your offline CV and online profile, take care not to post anything that could be deemed inappropriate and watch the timings of your posts and connection requests? If not, you could be ruining your job search.

Align your CV and profile

More candidates are being weeded out of shortlists because of discrepancies that show up between their social media accounts and offline CV. It’s vital that your online presence and LinkedIn information matches what’s in your CV. If not, at the very least you’ll be asked thorough and specific questions in an interview. At worst, and we have seen this happen, you’ll be removed from the shortlist.

Even if the discrepancy is due to a genuine mistake rather than an attempt to cover something up, it makes you look like you don’t pay attention to detail and are prone to errors.

Posting inappropriate material

Yes privacy settings have come a long way, but it’s always safest to assume that anything you post online is accessible by recruiters and hiring managers. So, if you wouldn’t want a hiring manager to see it, don’t post it.

For example, a recent candidate had a marketing director role offer withdrawn when the employer read scathing postings she had made after receiving poor service from an organisation. The candidate had used swear words and even captured and posted screen shots of the conversations. This raised legal and privacy issues and the employer offering the job was alarmed about the appropriateness of that candidate’s communication.

Instead, you should be using social media to create a positive ‘brand’ you. For example, you can use Instagram to show your passion for your sector or industry and related interests. This could include your attendance at trade shows, events or networking groups, visits to relevant places, offices or facilities, use of new technology and examples of your work.

Through Twitter you can demonstrate your interests and expertise. For example, tweet about a webinar you found informative or a new industry development you are passionate about.

Of course LinkedIn represents a large part of your personal brand so make relevant connections, join relevant groups, share relevant updates and update your profile regularly. You should also add links to your work throughout your profile.

Posting during work hours

If you’re about to interview for a job, the hiring manager is fully aware of your current employment circumstances. It doesn’t look very good when they do a social media search and see that you’re regularly posting at times they know you are at work.  I’ve seen several cases where a hiring manager has refused to employ an otherwise good candidate because they have spent too much time on social media during work hours. It raises questions about a candidate’s focus.

Don’t connect until you are offered the job

I had a client who was taken aback when a candidate sent a LinkedIn connection and Facebook friend request to them – before they’d even had their interview. It makes sense to look at publicly available information on social media as part of your pre-interview research, such as to gain an understanding of the culture of the organisation or to read any published blogs or articles the interviewer may have written.

But there is a difference between researching in order to prepare for your interview and crossing the line from an enthusiastic job seeker to a pushy one. If you get the job by all means connect – on LinkedIn not Facebook – but until then it can make you seem presumptuous as you are implying a level of familiarity that doesn't exist.

So when it comes time for your next job search, make sure you sync your CV and online profile, keep all online posts and comments professional, do not post during standard working hours and don’t send a LinkedIn connection request until you are offered the job.