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It’s time to take your online reputation seriously: the career-building potential of Social Media

Would headhunters and potential employers be impressed by what they can see on your Social Media profiles? What do they look out for?

When was the last time you did a spring clean of your Social Media profiles? Possibly within the past year, possibly never? Are you sure which are public and which are private? Are you using two-factor authentication to secure your account? If you are someone looking to build on your career success and network with like-minded industry figures, read on.

Taking a look at Social Media activity as part of a recruitment process may come up at the point of an offer being extended to a job applicant, but it pays to have confidence in the image you’re putting out in public. A major part of our role at Odgers Berndtson is being aware of exceptional talent and evaluating whether they could be potential assets to our clients now or in the future. When individuals are self-assured enough to share their insights, it could give them an edge in a competitive market. Occasionally, we’ll reach out to someone based on their online activity and see where their future interests might lie - and employers do this too. These potential candidates might be actively looking for a new role, someone we might place in a couple of years’ time or more often than not, someone who is not even on the market.  The point is, they’ve been noticed and the connection could lead to a positive move for them in the future. 

If you’ve never considered the career-building potential of Social Media and don’t know where to start – we’ve drawn up a 7 point plan to put you on the right path:

  1.  Google yourself. This is the window through which everyone else will see you and you need to be aware of the results. Do posts and pictures come up from your accounts or those of others? Can you un-tag yourself or perhaps you can ask people to un-tag you from anything of concern?


  1.  Decide which accounts you want to make public or private. Familiarise yourself with the relevant account settings and choose the most appropriate ones. On the whole, employers will differentiate between personal and professional Social Media, even if they are public, but the potential for such parties to see this content is something to bear in mind.


  1.  Audit the accounts you choose to make public. Do they give a fair impression of you and your personality? Would they entice someone to find out more about you, or consider you as a suitable member of their team? Take a look at the profiles of those with whom you identify, or those in positions you aspire to, and examine their approach. Can you offer professionally relevant posts that could catch a future employer’s eye?


  1.  If you decide to stay public but feel uncomfortable about past activity, consider using apps that will do the deleting for you in bulk, to save you time and ensure a thorough clean-up


  1.  Update your passwords and apply two-factor authentication to all of your Social Media accounts. Hackers can often find ways around it, but there’s no need to make it easy for them, and it’s worth taking reasonable precautions. Ensure your recovery email address is one you still have access to.


  1.  Are you still using the hilarious email address you signed up for during fresher’s week, or the account linked to your college/university? It’s time to update and simplify. Find a combination of your name that’s available, bringing in differentiators such as initials where necessary. You can always set up an ‘auto-forward’ service from your old account.


  1.  Use a professional headshot for your profile picture if you can. Alternatively, get someone you trust to take a good photo that isn’t of you inside a dark pub or hanging upside down on a bungee cord. You want employers to take you seriously, so you must too. By all means share non-work related photos, but not as a profile picture - it’s a big part of the first impression.


It’s important to remember that making your Social Media profiles work for you isn’t just about filtering out embarrassing content from the past; it’s an opportunity to control your own narrative. You have these free platforms you can use to establish yourself as someone who is a thought leader in your field - so use them! Put some time into composing posts that show your hard-earned skills and expertise and work at connecting with relevant industry people who share your interests and concerns.  Interacting with and supporting posts of colleagues and people you admire in your industry is a great way to get started and build your network.

If you’re reading all this and thinking ‘it’s not worth it, I’ll just close my accounts’, we would give a word of caution.  For some employers, the lack of any Social Media activity whatsoever will be a cause for concern. Your Social Media activity provides a window into you, your personality and character that a potential employer will be missing when they compare you with other candidates. Consider that carefully before deleting accounts.

The key is not to feel pressure to post twenty times a day, simply be yourself and see your online presence as something that could do you a favour, raise your profile in your industry, enhance your career and ultimately bring you closer to your next role.

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