Firstly, let me state that you STILL REQUIRE AN UP-TO-DATE RELEVANT CV. This has not changed. What is happening now is that employers are looking to see what your cyber or electronic online presence says about you as a potential employee and also as a person.
I am fortunate enough to work with employers as they advertise and recruit; yes, times have changed. Recently, as part of his selection criteria, a medium-sized employer asked applicants to supply an X (TWITTER)/FACEBOOK ID and if applicants had a LINKEDIN presence.
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I asked what he was hoping to find as a result of this. His reply was that “he would be able to determine their ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ more easily and make a more discernible assessment of an individual’s persona.” When I pressed him on how this affects his job interview and selection process, he claimed that looking at a person's qualifications and experience via a CV is an important first step. But, a well-rehearsed candidate can perform well at an interview based on that CV.
What an applicant can not practice for is their ‘cyber-self,’ as it were. Your questioning in an interview can now take on a different shade or angle because you now have an insight into the applicants’ “other self.” There are things on Facebook and X (Twitter) that an employer can tap into to learn more from an applicant at an interview or even before your online presence is declared, along with an email address on your CV.
For reference purposes, the position in question here was an administration role with some database and spreadsheet use. Additionally, there was an X (Twitter) feed to maintain sales via telephone.
So, the right candidate had to be digitally adept and confident with social media. The employer was confident that someone with a solid online presence and upbeat Facebook or Twitter profile would suit as long as they had good communication skills allied to Microsoft Office knowledge.
I sat in on the 30-minute interviews. The first 12-15 minutes were used to discuss the applicants’ technical attributes, but the latter half of the interview was given over to leisure interests and social media discussion. Why do people use it, how often, and so on? I can say now that the successful two applicants both used X (Twitter) and Facebook. Only one used LinkedIn.
The employer told me that both people spoke about using social media to socialize primarily and enhance their individual personalities. Not necessarily to attract employers but for others to see that they are interesting individuals with opinions. They stressed to me later that appearing fun (funny) but not judgmental or superior was also important. In case people who could possibly shape your life, like prospective employers, come to view your media feed,
When I asked the employer and his two new staff members if they could see a time when only social media would be used to select candidates, all parties rejected the idea but concurred that it is becoming a greater part of the selection process.
The employer added that he would certainly NOT take someone on without a face-to-face interview. One candidate privately stated that she had different accounts on X (Twitter) and Facebook “just in case.” As she said, “a sign of the times”. It is “rather like having 2 or more CVs,” she added.
As a cautionary note, let me add that the employer came across some of what he called” diverse and frankly scarily inappropriate” posts on Facebook, especially also on Twitter. He said that none of this came across in the applicants' corresponding CVs.
However, with the ability to view a wall or feed, he was able to gain potential insight and make a better approach to selecting interviewees. “Some of these applicants,” he advised, “will never be employed whilst employers ask for social media access.”
A warning Many Folks Should Heed.
Remember that many employers now advertise using X, Facebook, and Linkedin websites. Many applicants are viewed via Linkedin as thousands of people have profiles there. Largely still linked with higher professional jobs, LinkedIn is worth signing up for. Other employers now look to this site to find profiles for potential recruits.
Tip: Use a picture on your profile and update your profile and connection requests regularly. Don’t be too keen to delete past employment. Keep it fresh. Employers recruit regularly and casually from LinkedIn. Ok?!?
Facebook is perhaps still the one that tells the most about a person. Avoid arguing and posting photos that are lewd or imply too much love of alcohol or rowdy behavior. Employers know everybody has to let off steam, but if you appear to be “on it” 24/7, you are less of an attractive candidate. You only have to appear interesting and have a life, as it were.
X (Twitter) is great for finding employment right now as almost all large and medium companies, as do government departments, tweet vacancies there. It’s where friends and acquaintances can tip each other off almost instantly as to where there are opportunities for work. Get yourself a separate account if you’re using X (Twitter) to look for work. Keep it interesting and friendly, but direct friends to your other account if you’re indulging in other conversations that employers may frown upon. Just saying!!
LinkedIn is one social network that many people are not on. Some employers have a presence here, especially internationally. Again, keep it fresh and varied with your posts. Comment and reply to other posts from folks in your circles. If nothing else, you will learn to conversate with people more online, which encourages communication on a larger scale.
So Can Social Media Improve My Career Prospects? Yes, it can go a long way. In fact, if you manage your profiles and posts carefully. Then you can certainly make yourself into a very interesting and viable employment prospect.