Setting Yourself Up For Social Media Success

Did you know that over 60 percent of IT hiring managers screened their job candidates via social networking sites or online search engines, according to a CareerBuilder study? While it’s common sense to keep your social media profiles business casual, are you maximizing your professional online presence? Here’s how to leverage the top social media outlets to your advantage.

LinkedIn

Whether you’re hiring or being hired, professionals use LinkedIn as their go-to informal screening tool. So, first impressions are crucial. First, make sure your profile is 100 percent complete. Get and give some endorsements and recommendations. This should fill in any gaps that can cause an eyesore. Then, grow your network. Follow companies and thought leaders in your field and connect with colleagues and clients from your past and present. Join some industry groups and engage in discussions. Make a post from time to time. You don’t necessarily need to frequent LinkedIn every day, but at least make sure all your information is up to date and you have a profile picture. People like to see there is a real person behind all those qualifications.

Twitter

While Twitter may seem confusing (hashtags, at signs and those darn 140-character limits), it’s actually a great resource to aggregate up-to-the-minute (seconds, really) media in your industry. Like LinkedIn, you can follow thought leaders and companies that interest you and organize them by lists. Twitter gives you the opportunity to become a thought leader yourself and grow your own list of followers. If this is your intent, it’s imperative you stay active tweeting and retweeting. You won’t attract any new followers with a stale feed.

Facebook

If your intent is to keep Facebook strictly for fun, take some precautions. Make sure your profile and cover photos are presentable – those are public. Check your privacy settings and set them so that only you and/or your friends can see your posts. You can also limit who can search for your profile or ask to become your friend. You should also review all the posts you are tagged in before they are posted to your timeline.

More Social Media

If you have other social media profiles, such as Google+, Instagram and Pinterest, make sure they paint a positive portrait of you as well. You can turn on your privacy setting in Instagram and Twitter to screen potential followers. Beyond saving face, you can develop your own professional portfolio website and/or blog to bolster your online presence. Just remember, social media is there to help you be a better professional but it’s okay to have a little fun with it too.

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Overcoming Long-term Employment Gaps

Spent a prolonged time out of the work force? The reasons can range from voluntary – like taking time off to be a stay-at-home parent or travel – to involuntary – such as dealing with a medical emergency or being laid off. While it may seem undesirable, your gap in employment doesn’t mean you’re unhirable. Here are three ways you can close the gap.

On paper

You can do a bit of visual trickery to your CV/resume to downplay gaps in employment. Enter the years you were employed, rather than using the standard month/year format. You can also use a smaller font size and not bold your employment dates. Some candidates with extended unemployment find that structuring their resumes functionally, rather than chronologically, help with filling in holes. By focusing on accomplishments and skills, rather than the amount of time spent at a job, they’re able to highlight attributes that attract hiring managers. It’s also perfectly acceptable to only focus on the past 10-15 years and omit any unrelated work experience.

Online

Leverage social media as much as you can. The more bait you put out there, the better your chances of reeling in an interview. LinkedIn is great because it’s essentially another outlet for your CV/resume – and recruiters often use it to fish for talent. LinkedIn does use a chronological, month/date format to showcase work experience, which doesn’t help with long unemployment gaps. But, you can plug up holes by explaining what you did during that time. If you were a homemaker, say it. If you volunteered, write that down. There are marketable skills, such as budgeting, management and teamwork, that are applicable for many jobs.

In person

Chances are, you probably won’t be asked about an unemployment gap that’s under six months. If you are asked about your unemployment gap at the interview, don’t skirt around the issue. Just be natural, direct and brief in your response. Then, swiftly move on to the next topic of conversation.

Need some reassurance that a gap in employment will result in automatic rejection? James Caan, a successful entrepreneur and business thought leader recently said, “I am always more interested in the abilities and characteristics of an individual — if they haven’t been in work for a while but have the quality my company needs, I will hire them.”

Were you out of work for a while? Do you have any tips to share about getting back to work? We’d love to hear from you.