If you’re in the market for a new job, or considering starting a search, you’ll likely be updating your resume and researching companies you want to work for. But there’s one aspect of modern job hunting that you may not have thought much about: your online presence. It’s increasingly playing a role in employers’ talent decisions, and it can impact you at any point in the hiring process — from whether you’ll get an interview to if you’ll receive a job offer.
Here are my top recommendations for presenting your best self online, and what’s important to keep in mind overall as you find and land your next position.
When it comes to where recruiters are finding candidates, many of them rely on LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed. LinkedIn is one of the first places recruiters and human resources professionals go to learn more about you. So not having a LinkedIn profile will work against you.
Hiring professionals will review your profiles on other social media platforms, too, as a routine part of a background check. Doing so enables them to see whether you’re a fit for company culture and gain insight into your character, the types of people you engage with, inappropriate content you may post or share, and more. What they find in such investigations has consequences, because many companies use social media accounts to drive hiring decisions. In addition to what your posts say about you as an individual, social media activity can impact a business — making it fair game for organizations to evaluate. For example, racist or harsh comments on social media can hurt an organization’s image and brand.
If you want to look more presentable online to an employer, here are three things you can do:
1. Check thoroughly.
Before applying for any roles, make sure your social media profiles are private. Then review all accounts and remove inappropriate pictures or messages with drugs, profanity or illegal activity. Also remove anything that can be seen as racist, prejudice or extreme, especially when it comes to politics or religion. What remains on the page should then be the content that shows how cool and innovative you are — all the exciting things that positively showcase your unique brand and personality. Once you are satisfied with your updated profiles, then you can change them back to a public setting.
2. Have a presence.
If you are still social media resistant, there’s no judgment here. But do consider creating at least a LinkedIn profile page or crafting an online version of your resume to keep your competitive edge. These days, not having an online presence is one of the factors that can count against you.
3. Keep it clean.
I recommend adopting a monthly or quarterly best practice of reviewing and cleaning up your social media accounts. You may not think you’ve posted or shared anything that might raise a red flag, but something could slip through your own well-intentioned filters. This is a great approach for avoiding adverse future hiring decisions.
As you look for a new position, you don’t want to jeopardize your current role. So here are some things you can do to keep your job search under wraps until you’ve secured a new position and you’re ready to give notice:
- Keep your search, and your plans, to yourself. If you share them with anyone at work, all it takes is for one person to spill the beans and word will spread quickly around the office.
- Avoid posting on job boards so your availability isn’t known publicly.
- Turn off notifications on LinkedIn before updating your skills.
- Use your trusted network to make potential employment connections, and be sure they’re not associated with your current employer.
- Conduct your search in the evening and during the weekend.
- Ask the potential hiring manager to keep a new position under wraps until you have signed an offer letter.
Many successful candidates also utilize recruiters. Having a recruiter work on your behalf during the search and application process provides great benefits. But you should also apply for jobs you’re interested in on your own — even for positions associated with the recruiter — because most companies require you submit an application to their applicant tracking system for compliance purposes.
Additionally, networking is a powerful tool in your job search. I estimate that more than half of jobs are currently landed through networking. So brush up on your skills and engage with your current network, or start making new connections if necessary.
Landing your dream job, or even your next role, won’t be easy. The job market is still relatively strong, but it’s also highly competitive. Roughly one out of every 50 candidates will even get an interview. Yet it is doable, particularly if you have a strong plan and a solid online presence that represents the best you can offer a future employer. Have confidence in yourself through the process, and keep going until you land the job that’s right for you.
Learn more with the Job Search Strategies video series.
Nicole Darby is a learning and development (L&D) leader, working for 20+ years in large corporations and as a consultant and career coach, helping 2,000 individuals return to work or find dream careers. At TrainingPros, she makes each independent consultant feel welcomed and supported so they can offer the best L&D consulting to clients. She earned a master’s degree in human resource development from Georgia State University and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Florida. When learning leaders have more projects than they have people, TrainingPros can provide the right L&D consultants so they can start their projects with confidence. TrainingPros is a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. Visit TrainingPros for more information.