We’ve all heard stories about how social recruiting can negatively impact executive job search success.
Too many executive (and other) job seekers are too fast and easy with their social media posts, and undermine or completely destroy their job search.
They let all kinds of damaging things sit on their social media accounts, easily accessible to anyone . . . and then wonder why their job search is going nowhere.
Social recruiting is the norm for executive job search in the digital age.
Executive recruiters and hiring decision makers at your target companies use social media to source and assess candidates like you.
To vet candidates, they Google each one’s name and see what they find across the search results. They may dig deep, doing advanced searches and reviewing many pages of search results.
Anything you post to your social media accounts that is open to the public will be available for them to help them decide whether you’re a viable candidate.
- Information that supports a candidate’s qualifications.
- The professionalism of a candidate’s online persona.
- What other people are posting about candidates.
- A reason not to hire a candidate.
She describes what’s going on:
“Employers want to hire someone who has strong decision-making abilities, and good judgment and ethics. Would you want to work with someone who said unkind things about you, lied or re-shared information you told them in confidence? This is why employers have begun using social media as a recruiting tool. The things people post online shed light on their judgment and professionalism.
If this angers you to the point of wanting to delete your social media accounts, think twice. Without a social media presence, 57 percent of employers say they won’t even consider candidates.”
What Are Your Social Media Accounts Saying About You?
Are you prepared to be closely scrutinized by executive recruiters and other hiring managers at the companies you’re targeting? What kinds of things are on your social media pages?
- Risque or racy content on your social media pages
- Offensive sentiments or images on your profile and/or extreme political or religious views
- Photos or discussion about illegal activities (even if in a joking manner)
- Images and updates that reference a focus on partying and getting crazy
- Angry or argumentative comments and threads
I’ll add two more social media mistakes to her list:
- Trash-talk about your current or potential future employer
- Lies or exaggerations about your career history or anything else impacting your job search.
Regarding the latter item, a Muse article offers an interesting twist. It goes further to suggest that exaggeration or over use of hyperbole on social media (or in real-life communications) will dilute your personal brand and unique value proposition:
“Hyperbolic buzzwords such as amazing team player, driven, out-of-the-box-thinker, and results-oriented appear on hundreds of resumes, but they’re never the reason someone is hired. Why? Because they don’t show your unique value. When the majority of the resumes that a hiring manager reviews contain the same buzzwords, how will she know you’re special? What does amazing team player even mean at that point? Nothing.
Of course, being an amazing team player is a positive and valuable thing to have in an employee. But, when thrown around without context, it actually makes it more difficult to connect with you. First, it throws you into the pool with all of the other ‘amazing team players,’ and second, there are a hundred different ways of being an amazing team player, so without providing specifics, it doesn’t really tell me anything about you.”
How Do You Fix Your Social Media Missteps?
First, you need to take down any off-color or incriminating photos and content that you can . . . anything that can sabotage your appeal as a candidate. And, from then on, you need to be very careful about what you post on your social media accounts . . . AND what others post about you on social media.
Keep tabs on your social media and online presence, in general, by self-Googling regularly (say, once a week or so). Be informed about what these people will see when they Google your name, and run damage control to fix those negative search results.
If you really must use social media for rants and other risky commentary, do so in private groups, where only select people close to you will have access.
But beware: Even in private groups, there may be people who will spread your negative banter or bring up items on their own . . . on public forums.
As far as diluting your personal brand with hyperbole, get to work defining your unique personal brand and differentiating your value-offer to the employers you’re targeting. Be clear, specific and consistent always with your personal brand messaging.
Don’t be afraid to be authentic. You can do this without bragging. It will help you differentiate the unique value you offer over those competing against you.
Blatant social media slip-ups are not the only things executive recruiters look for on your social media accounts.
A Fast Company article notes that recruiter’s and hiring manager’s vetting processes may be “more rigorous – and idiosyncratic – than you think“.
It’s all about balancing “attitude” and “aptitude”, which really boils down to personal branding (or softer skills) vs. hard qualifications or skills.
When I work with executive job seekers, I still see all too often a resistance to showcasing their personality, even in small part.
Companies hire people to solve problems and fill voids. Executives need to have strong leadership qualities and people skills (the personality part), combined with whatever other professional qualifications come into play.
The article goes on to detail 3 other areas executive recruiters and hiring managers investigate in candidates:
1. A sharp, consistent visual brand.
Get a clean, professional-looking photo on your social media accounts. Beyond that, think about creating a “style guide” for yourself – including your brand color and font – that you will communicate consistently across all social media.
2. A clean LinkedIn, and a creative personal site
“Don’t go overboard customizing your LinkedIn. Unlike Twitter or Instagram, the professional network isn’t the place to post inspirational quotes or use tropical landscapes as your cover photo. Recruiters do care about your creative expression – they just don’t want to see it on LinkedIn.”
Instead, stand out by creating a personal website where you can more vividly showcase both your personality and hard skills or functional areas of expertise.
3. Potential “backdoor references”.
These are not the pre-qualified and prompted references you provide. They are the people in your network(s) recruiters find through your social media accounts and contact on their own.
People like past co-workers and freelance clients, who can provide recruiters with valuable information to verify your qualifications. These references are considered more likely to be truthful about you and your value.