With the legal job market becoming ever more competitive, it is not surprising that the selection criteria used by employers may not always be limited to a straightforward CV and interview(s) - your personal online brand can be just as important as the suit you wear to an interview.
It can be tempting to lock down privacy settings on your social media accounts. However this could mean missing out on opportunities; the line between our personal and professional lives is increasingly blurred with the use of social media, and it is nowadays an important tool to use to bolster your personal brand and raise your profile.
Candidates should therefore be careful of how they use their personal social media accounts - derogatory comments, inappropriate profile pictures and poor spelling/grammar can lead to employers making rash judgments.
On the other hand, some employers believe social media profiles demonstrate employee potential as they can show well-roundedness and company-fit. LinkedIn appears to be the most popular method but, perhaps surprisingly, some employers do use Facebook and other sites as information sources.
While only one in ten employers admit to reviewing personal social media as a matter of course, research by OfficeTeam revealed that over a third of HR Managers feel it is inevitable that social media sites, like LinkedIn and Facebook, will replace CVs in the future as they enable instantaneous communication in fast paced sectors like legal services.
Surveys have shown that 90% of recruiters research the online presence of candidates to check there is nothing incriminating to be found by clients that could represent badly on the individual or on their agency. Companies with robust reputations to protect check social media sites as part of the standard recruitment process, so an inappropriate profile could shatter your chances of an interview. This method can and will be used as a way of shortlisting candidates, especially when the job market is so competitive and there is less to differentiate between candidates. According to research up to 70% of employers who have used LinkedIn have decided not to progress a candidate based on their social media profiles, with only 27% giving candidates the chance to discuss the content they have found.
So what should you be doing to ensure your social media profile reflects positively on you and you are using it to your maximum professional advantage, and of course avoiding the rejection pile!
Here are my top tips:-
- Google yourself – if all the results are from non-professional sources then update your professional profiles. LinkedIn has a high visibility in Google search results
- Ensure your LinkedIn profile is comprehensive and really gives an employer a very positive picture of experience and expertise. Remember you can include work related articles/blogs you have written
- If you would be worried about a comment being seen by an employer or somebody who could screenshot it and pass it on, consider whether or not to click post! Where you can, remove any ‘dodgy’ photos or comments
- Avoid swearing and keep your spelling and grammar in check – ‘text speak’ could be viewed as incompetence by prospective employers
- Demonstrate your strengths/interests on your profile – if you have any unique interests this can complement you
- It is important to keep tabs on your privacy permissions – be aware Facebook make regular changes to privacy settings, and Twitter profiles are usually public
- Be careful of your ‘likes’ and be aware of the organisations/people you are ‘linked’ with
Iona Kobbekaduwe is an experienced consultant based in our Manchester office. For more discussion and/or advice please do contact her on 0161 828 5415 or firstname.lastname@example.org