Brandon Metcalf is the co-founder and chief operating officer of Talent Rover, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that aims to modernize the staffing and recruitment industry. He leads all aspects of the business, including day-to-day operations, development, sales, marketing and strategy.
If your Facebook timeline is full of half-naked photos, lewd memes and drunken selfies, you’re not going to get hired. However, if your timeline honestly represents yourself with insightful comments and photos from cool hobbies, recruiters might move you to the top of the list.
A shocking number of people make embarrassing content public, forgetting (or not caring) that every recruiter is on social media. Instead of disqualifying yourself on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, you can create a compelling story. Think of recruiters as online daters who scan your profile and make a snap judgment about asking you out. If you want the date, you need to bury the debauchery and create a new social footprint that depicts thought leadership, personality traits and integrity. Here’s how you do this:
1. Thought Leadership
To be a thought leader, you have to think. If you retweet tons of articles without any context, you’re being a parrot, and it looks like you didn’t read the articles. To catch a recruiter’s attention, you have to inject critical analysis, creative ideas and debate into public dialogue.
I recommend following these three rules:
- If you author original work – like a blog post or infographic – share it, and explain why you wrote this or what makes it interesting. A 140-character tweet is plenty of space for that.
- If you share content from someone else, you need to share it with a reflection, question or challenge. No one cares how much you agree with the author.
- Don’t go overboard. If you seem to be tweeting and reading articles every 10 minutes, the recruiter is going to wonder what, if anything, you do at work.
Recruiters can and should use social media to judge your personality. Companies want people who stick around and recruiters want to make their clients happy, so they will judge you based on fit.
Therefore, hide all your unflattering photos and comments, but leave content that highlights your hobbies, achievements, community service experiences and other interests. This type of information sticks with recruiters.
For example, if you run ultra-marathons and share this on social media, the recruiter will remember you as the candidate who perseveres through 50-mile runs. You come across as disciplined, resilient and hard-working. Lazy people don’t run 50 miles.
If you volunteer to teach dance lessons at inner-city schools, you become the dancer candidate who gives back to the community. If you can lead dance classes, you probably communicate well and have the ability to mentor people.
Your interests can help you stand out in a competitive pool if you make it easy for recruiters to discover them.
Social footprints can separate authentic candidates from boastful candidates. On social, you need to consciously demonstrate that you are who you say you are.
That doesn’t mean your LinkedIn profile has to be exactly the same as your resume. In fact, you might cut content from your resume to bring it down to one page, and then add that content to LinkedIn so that recruiters get the full picture.
If you claim to be a “blogger,” “social media expert” or “content strategist,” your social footprint better back up those claims. You need a longstanding blog with readers, thought leadership related to social media or links to content that you have created. If you’re an open source developer, link to projects that you have actually worked on. If you can’t back up the claims on your resume, don’t make them.
On the other hand, if you minimize your social footprint to be safe, recruiters are forced to question your integrity. What are you hiding? Why do you have to block me from seeing your profile?
You are in control of your social presence, and you can make it an asset in your job hunt. Consciously choose what to show recruiters, keep unflattering moments private and be human. Remember, your recruiter is making snap judgments like an online dater, and s/he probably wants a likeable, fun candidate. In your effort to show thought leadership, personality and integrity, be yourself — just not the self who takes drunken selfies.