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Make a Digital Impression: What Your Posts Say About You to Employers

Jo Eisenhart •  May 3, 2016 | Business and Careers

MI24084-JeffGoogled yourself lately?

If you’re in the market for a job, you should. An increasing number of organizations are using public social media profiles and online search engines to screen job candidates. According to a 2016 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly half of surveyed organizations currently screen or plan to start screening applicants’ social media profiles. One in three screen applicants using online search engines. So it’s more important than ever to make sure your digital impression represents how you want to be seen.

Of course, there’s been a lot written about what not to post on social media if you’re looking for a job: no scantily clad photos, no vulgar language, no incoherent rants. But what should you post? If potential employers are finding you online, what do they want to see?

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Professionally Relevant Activity

Write articles, post blog content, and comment on industry news of the day. Link from your profile to a speech or presentation you delivered, to an event you’re planning to attend or to an industry organization you support. When you actively contribute online in a thoughtful and professionally relevant manner, you send a powerful message to potential employers that says:

1. You do more than what’s required. You don’t just do your job; you want to contribute to the conversation about your profession or your industry. You’re aware of current challenges and trends, and you want to influence the discussion. In other words, you are informed and involved.

2. You have a point of view. Stating a distinct point of view may or may not be a benefit, depending on the topic and how controversial it is. But, if you’re aiming for a job with a company that’s committed to a particular social cause or has an innovative business model, for example, you’ll give yourself a competitive advantage if you have a digital track record of writing or speaking about your views on the topic. Or, if you are looking for a company that values people who aren’t shy about speaking up, controversial topic or not, being clear on your point of view can help you stand out.

3. You’re a skilled communicator. Can you successfully articulate a point of view in 140 characters? Build a case for change in a single blog post? Inspire a room of people during a speech? If so, your social media footprint may give you a competitive advantage. A recent GMAT survey of corporate recruiters showed that having the ability to communicate well—speaking, listening, writing and presenting—was the most important skill for new hires. When you’re active online, you have a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate your communication skills.

Recruiters and employers are watching. So take advantage of the opportunity to create an impressive digital profile. Consider using LinkedIn as your base. According to the 2016 SHRM survey, among employers who use social media sites to screen candidates, the vast majority use LinkedIn. From there, link to articles you’ve published, blogs you’ve posted, comments you’ve made and speeches you’ve given. Then, stay active and be relevant. Not only will you continue to make a meaningful contribution to the conversation, you’ll be giving yourself a competitive professional advantage. 

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