Job-Hunting: Using Social Media Effectively

By Sabine Ehgoetz

When applying for a job, the internet is a tool that should never be underestimated. Of course, a personal website, filled with a methodically updated résumé as well as plenty of soft-facts like your personal goals, strengths and even a bit of family background, would be most beneficial for a potential employer to find all the information he seeks on you. It also gives you the most control over what light you will be seen in professionally and the image you want to create for yourself. If you are able to set up your own website or afford to have someone else build it, there are many web hosting options on the web that are affordable and readily available. If not, there are some options that are free of charge.

Online business networks liked LinkedIn or Xing allow you to put your résumé online and at the same time find companies or other individuals you may want to connect with to build a social network you can benefit from during your job search. Although you may come across a wide range of professionals who want to be linked to you, you should still choose carefully who you accept into your network. Companies who try to spam you or don’t have the best reputation can harm you more than help you. While it is important to be well connected on those sites, you need to keep in mind that every contact you accept should be consistent with your career planning and you professional goals. Ignore marketing companies who most likely only aim to acquire your personal information for their database, and never accept invitations to connect from any person who just happens to like your photo.

In the age of social networking, the line between professional and private life has become very blurry. It certainly is a good idea to be present on at least the most important platforms to show you are up to date with technology. On the other hand, you also have to be aware that every human resource department looking to hire you will look for your name in Google. The first listing results coming up usually link to pages like Facebook or Twitter – social networking sites that often serve a mainly private purpose. On both, people share with their status updates what is currently going on in their lives – from what they have been up to on the weekend to thoughts about politics, economy or even religious matters.

Often those words are directed towards friends and family, which is okay, but whatever you post on Facebook or Twitter can be seen by anyone - and that includes your potential future employer as well.

f you decide to use social media for both private and business matters – important especially for entrepreneurs and self employed people – be extremely cautious. Never discuss career changes on your profile while you are still employed somewhere else. If not your boss, an ill willed or jealous co-worker may read it and spill the beans. But don't get too personal either. It is fine to post photos of your family, your last vacation or a night out with your friends, but not pictures that make you appear in a light that isn’t beneficial for your career. If anyone else tags you in their photos in such a way, un-tag yourself and make clear to them that you don’t want your name on these photos – which, by the way, is absolutely your right to demand.

Most importantly, stay away from status updates after you had a few glasses to drink or those done in an emotionally aggravated stage. Speaking negatively about business practices or certain cultural customs in Canada – something especially newcomers should keep in mind – can lead to not getting hired although you would have otherwise been the perfect candidate.

The internet has made each of us transparent in a way that no one can be present online and keep complete privacy at the same time. Employers, head hunters and recruiting agencies know and understand this. The best strategy to keep control over what they are going to find on you: Google your own name on a frequent basis and see what comes up. Make sure everything you read is in accordance with the person you want to be seen as. Good luck, and enjoy the vast world of social networking sites!

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