This is a guest blog post written by Alumni Ambassador Christina Nguyen.
We’re all addicted to social media.
Every time we meticulously decide on an Instagram filter, tweet about the latest trending topics, or pick between potential Facebook profile pictures, we’re fine-tuning our personal brands, whether it is conscious or not. Our social media landscapes act as little snapshots and peeks into our lives – so it’s only natural that we want to put our best foot forward, right?
As a Human Resources intern at a major international marketing firm, I go through hundreds and thousands of resumes from potential candidates daily. It’s impossible to capture the essence of who you are on a single sheet of paper, so that’s why nearly 40% of companies look to social media to learn more about you! However, your “personal brand” can either help you or hurt you in the professional world.
1. You’re giving out more information than you think. When you’re applying to any job, you’re not only handing in a resume, but you’re also opening the door to your entire life. With only a few details such as your full name, address, email, school, and phone number, a little creative digging can unearth a few bits and pieces that aren’t exactly treasure. We’ve all got a few things (like ancient MySpace and Formspring accounts) that we’d rather sweep under the rug, but it’s important to clean it up. Just because no one uses it anymore doesn’t mean it’s still not out there for anyone to find. The person you were yesterday is not the person you are today.
So yes, stalking people online is actually in my job description! But I’ve had to pass on a number of highly-qualified, even awesome, candidates for even the smallest of reasons like lying about work or awards, mean comments on Youtube videos, improper posts on Tumblr, indecent pictures depicting drug use, and even evidence of online bullying. There was even one kid whose Linkedin profile picture was obviously taken in the middle of a party – red cup and all.
Don’t bother just changing your last name to your middle name on Facebook – I can still find you.
2. Tidy up! Be more aware of your online image. Go through photos and tweets, is this what you want your first impression to be? A good rule of thumb is to avoid profanity, negative comments, and inappropriate images. Things can always be taken out of context. Keep your personal life private – update your privacy settings on all social media accounts with your own discretion. You don’t want your parents finding your Facebook, so you shouldn’t want your boss finding it either. But you can be as private or as public as you’d like. Google yourself and google yourself often.
3. Turn the tables, do your own snooping. You have just about the same tools that these companies have. Do your own research! Look your interviewer up on Linkedin and Google the company you’re interviewing for, it’ll really help you come up with some knockout questions at the end of the interview. Ask them about their own experiences – it’ll give you an opportunity to connect. (But don’t come across as creepy – you don’t want them to know you’ve been stalking them).
Rule of thumb is always be prepared to talk about the company, from inside and out. What’s the latest news about the company? How did they get their start? What are their core values as an organization? But most importantly, this will help you figure out why you want to work there – hey, it might even get you a little excited.
There’s no such thing as over-preparing for an interview. The company’s not just interviewing you - you’re interviewing them too. You want to make sure this is the right fit
4. If you don’t already have a Linkedin, get one. ASAP. “If you don’t have a Linkedin, you don’t exist.” I honestly can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard this from and how many times I’ve heard it. Linkedin is a business-oriented, social networking platform.
At its most rudimentary level, your Linkedin is a comprehensive online resume. Remember, you’re only limited to one physical page for your actual resume, but the possibilities with Linkedin is limitless. You can go in depth about all your positions, activities, awards, volunteer work, and leadership experience. You should really take the time to flesh it out because you never know who’ll come across your profile one day. Someone might even reach out to you about future opportunities! This practice is actually becoming pretty common nowadays.
But it’s all about the connections – Linkedin is a great way to keep in touch with all of your previous employers and co-workers. People might move to a different organization, and phone numbers and emails might change, but you’ll only have one Linkedin account. Once you’re connected to someone, you’ll also have access to their entire network, which means you’ll have the opportunity to meet even more people. Join interests groups, meet alumni, ask for advice, read and comment on articles – the world’s literally at your fingertips.
Of course, don’t try to connect with everyone. It won’t look to good during an interview when someone asks you how you know so and so and you can’t give a direct answer. Keep your picture appropriate and your profile free of typos.
5. Social Media can open doors for you! Use social media to your advantage to stand out in the crowd – positively! Employers love to see passion and focus – so go ahead make that DIY blog, put up your design portfolio, build a website, tweet interesting and relevant articles, and make a Youtube channel. And of course, make sure to put that link on your resume! Show us that you do really care about the field you want to enter and that you’ve made an effort to be as knowledgeable as possible.
Don’t be afraid to show a little personality. We want to know that there’s an actual person behind this resume. Show us that you’re witty, quirky, funny, and kind. Make us WANT to work with you!