When looking for a job online, most people tend to go directly to Linkedin.com and create a profile while disregarding their existing social networks. What they don’t realize is that most employers search for potential employees on personal social networks before professional ones. I am going to discuss a few measures that you should undertake to survive an unexpected stalking from a potential employer.
Firstly, your email address should be professional. Try to create a professional email address using your first name and last name, or first initial and last name. Email addresses like email@example.com or puppy_loveXOXO@msn.com will deter an employer from considering your resume. In addition, your email provider says a lot about you. If you are using AOL for example, you would give off an internet newbie vibe: "Hi. I'm from 1996. What is this internet that you speak of?“. If you use Hotmail, you are perceived as an amateur or a teenager: “Hi, I’m 16. Would you like to chat with me on Windows Live Messenger?”. Gmail and Yahoo are generally more acceptable and professional. However, using an university email address is even better, but you have to make sure that you still have access to it when you graduate. If you want to go the extra mile, you can always opt in to creating your own domain and an email like firstname.lastname@example.org. It only costs you around $10 per year and is guaranteed to impress an employer.
Second, you should always Google yourself and set a Google Alert for your name. Since this is the first thing recruiters do, you have to see what people are saying about you. Usually, your social media accounts (such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin) show up at the top of the search results. If you see links that you do not like, you can take them down if you are the owner of the content or ask the person who put them to remove them. However, if you do not find any information about you on Google, that is not a good sign either. Recruiters will either think it is fishy or that you are a lazy person. If that is the case, you have to create good content to appear in search results, starting a blog for instance.
Here comes the tricky part. You have to optimize your existing personal social networks to look more professional. Let’s start with Facebook. This is where recruiters look first. If you are seeking a job, you have to fill in your about section as a mini-resume. Add your university, school, major, courses and graduation date as well as your previous and current employment including internships. You can even add volunteer work and important projects. You also have to make all of this information public so that you can catch their attention. In addition, you should always have a presentable profile and cover photos. This means no excessively drunken photos, photos that are too revealing or depicting illegal activities. If you do have any unprofessional content that you would like to keep, you can always make that information private.
On the other hand, Twitter is a more public social network and your tweets are indexed by Google or other sites so anything you say might show up in unexpected places. Try not to use excessively vulgar language in your tweets or talk badly about companies that you have applied to. You should also have a professional bio to make it easier for employers to search for you. If you don’t want recruiters to match your resume to your Twitter account, spell your name differently on Twitter or make it private (though it sort of beats the purpose of Twitter).
Finally, create a blog or optimize your existing one for job search. Starting a blog does not require a lot of time but greatly raises your search engine optimization (SEO). If you write posts that are relevant to your career and share opinions related to your industry, employers will be impressed by your knowledge and commitment to your field. Applicants with active blogs get $200 more on average on their job offers. Even if you cannot blog continuously, older posts will still show in search results so that’s a win-win situation.
Using and optimizing social media channels for your job search will help you create a personal brand and achieve a wider reach. However, you have to be careful since personal and professional lines on social media are blurred. In addition, you have to monitor what you say on social networks and even be careful who you are friends with since you cannot control what your online connection do. In another words, you have to be private in a somewhat public place.