8 Social Media Blunders that Sink a Job Search

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Let’s say you are looking for a new job or a promotion at your current job.  If your prospective new boss pulls up your Facebook page, will he/she see photos of you drinking scotch from the bottle and a caption that says “Drink till you die”?  Or will your current employer see a post that reads: “I hate my job, the boss is a jerk!” on your Facebook page?

These days, social media can be a help or a hindrance to your job search. Social media sites are not hidden.

Anything you post is likely to be seen.  Most hiring managers search candidates’ online presence and that includes social networking. You will want to do the same.

A basic search of your name is a good place to start. What does the search reveal?  How deep are the results?

Do you find one or two pages, or one or two lines?  What does the search reveal about you? Remember, just because your Facebook posts don’t show up in the initial search doesn’t mean information posted there is inaccessible.  In fact, for some companies, that may be where the search begins. Be smart about your online presence and you will outsmart the competition.

1.  Wide Open Profiles.

This is the kind of mistake that makes the others mistakes relevant. Keeping a closed or mostly closed profile on your non-career social media sites while job searching is a good idea.

2.  Friend Requesting Your Interviewer.

Don’t send a friend request to your interviewer. Maybe your the type of person who friend requests everyone you meet. Maybe you think it will help your chances of getting the job. Unfortunately, friend requesting your interviewer is more likely to work against you, since very few of us will look more professional on facebook than in the interview.

3.  Inappropriate Language.

Remember your old English teacher’s admonition that you must pay attention to the written word?  That remains true for writing on the web.  Writing how you talk is not the best advice in the midst of your job search.  Think of any written communication as a tiny billboard communicating your assets to hiring managers investigating your online presence.  Inappropriate language definitely includes profanity, so clean it up to strengthen your job search.

4.  Non-PC Statements.

Your social media pages may feel protected or hidden from the general public, but as with anything on the Internet, once it is there, you lose all control of the information.  “Think twice and type once” might be a good reminder the next time you are posting.  Any Internet-based communication is open to the world and may be misconstrued.  Think about the last time you tried to tell a joke or explain a sensitive situation via email.  The recipient of cyber-messages may not interpret what was meant as a short-hand explanation in the same way you intended.

5.  Negative Comments about your Current Employer.

The supposed sanctity of social media sites can lead many people to develop a false sense of security. As mentioned, social media sites are not completely private.  If you are ranting about your current place of employment, the consequences of doing so “in print” are likely to be much more negative for you than the employer.  Hiring managers typically avoid anyone whose posts suggest a difficult disposition, rather than the appearance of a team player.

6.  Unflattering Photos.

Everyone knows drunken holiday party photos will sabotage your job search, but you should be cautious about the content of all photos you post.  Public displays of affection, nudity, or any documentation of “unusual” behavior are likely to halt successful job leads.  Check with your “friends” on Facebook as well to make sure there aren’t photos on their pages that may cast you in an unflattering light.

7.  Off-color humor.

The Internet is not the local bar or pub.  You’re not just making jokes with people who already know you well and will forgive slips of the tongue.  If negative comments are all that the hiring manager knows of you, you are likely to be seen negatively.

8.  Conflicts between your profile and resume.

Make sure there is no major differences between your career oriented social networking profiles, and your resume. This can be as simple as updating a former employer’s company name to its new name if it was changed. Check the details thoroughly on both, making sure the dates match, the company names match, and the responsibilities and accomplishments match

 

Don’t jeopardize your job search by ignoring potential negative impressions from your online presence.  Social media sites are routinely accessed as part of the screening process so get rid of any questionable photos or posts. Beware of social media blunders by taking a smart look at your online presence as if through the eyes of the hiring manager, and you can remove barriers to your next position.

 

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Savvy Internet Job Search Strategies

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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The Internet has become an integral component in almost everyone’s job search. Despite its power to remove boundaries, using the Internet in your job search is not without risk. Savvy strategies will help promote your search and protect personal information, while keeping the job search under wraps from your current employer.

Don’t Get Scammed

With Internet job searches, almost all correspondence between you and a prospective employer may be conducted via email. While that is not extraordinary, you still need to protect yourself if you are unable to find other evidence of the company’s reputation or existence. Even if you have phone contact with a representative of the company, you need to research the firm to ensure their legitimacy. Don’t get pulled into a scam because of your eagerness to obtain employment. Research the company before you get a request for personal information such as your social security number or driver’s license.  Look for specific feedback about the company online to help you determine your next step in interactions.

Keep It Quiet

Most job seekers begin to look for work before they leave their current employment – for basic financial reasons.  However, that doesn’t mean you want your current employer to know.  It is the rare supervisor who is pleased to learn that a key staff member is looking for other work. Never use company resources or time to devote to your job search. Use a personal cell phone or home phone number as a contact. Open a dedicated email account to provide an address other than one associated with your current employer. Even though it may be tempting to make just one copy of your resume at work, don’t risk it. Go to the library or local copy center and spend the few cents for a copy.

Protect Your Privacy

As noted, consider setting up a separate email account solely for use in your job search. When setting up your accounts with major online job sites, be certain to devise user names and passwords that differ from your other accounts. Keep personal, current work and job search accounts separate as much as possible.

Use privacy settings on job search and social media sites. Most major job sites allow your search information to remain confidential. With social media sites, double-check your privacy settings and those who may have access to your postings. You may have included your present employer at one time. Update settings during your job search, so that postings on Facebook about your job search don’t end up at your employer’s inbox.

LinkedIn is Not Facebook

LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Avoid the temptation to include any postings about negative job experiences. This is a site to highlight your strengths. If you feel the need to post on how your current boss unfairly reprimanded you, save it for Facebook and make sure your privacy settings are in place. Better yet, just talk to a friend or family member about it in person. Even with privacy settings, you cannot ensure postings will not migrate beyond Facebook. Such postings may damage your career search when they resurface elsewhere online.

Double-check any employment dates or information posted on LinkedIn against your resume. Any discrepancies in time-lines or information could severely damage your job search.

Identity Theft Protection

Most job seekers are eager to share information with potential employers, but be cautious of providing too much information too soon. Of course, basic contact information is necessary early in the job search process. Once you have determined that you are communicating with a legitimate company, sharing address and phone number via email or your resume are normal parts of the job search. As the negotiations continue, you will be required to provide social security number and complete background checks.  When posting your resume online or sending it electronically, only contact information is necessary to include. Limiting the amount of personal information will help protect you from identity theft.

Take a step back from your job search and objectively review your online presence and job search strategies. Although impossible to maintain complete control of information on the Internet, you can be savvy about privacy settings and how you choose to post your resume. Protecting your privacy is an important component in accelerating your job search.

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Make New Goals for Your Career Search

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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Your resume is the most important vehicle for sending a positive first impression of you and your skills to hiring managers.  However I hope a strong resume isn’t the only strategy in your tool box for 2011. Many people discount the value of New Year’s Resolutions but recognize the power in writing down intentions. Make a commitment to a successful job search in the coming year by defining your direction. Use the list below or be inspired to come up with your own!

1.  “I will target my job search efforts instead of using the old shotgun approach.”

It’s so easy to send your resume to multiple sites via the Internet, but results are not always optimal. Your resume may become one of hundreds in the hiring manager’s inbox. Target jobs of greatest interest and be diligent about your interactions with those companies as noted in the following intentions for the New Year.

2.  “I will expand my list of contacts by 2 people or organizations each week.”

Add contacts face-to-face, via phone, or electronically. Help new contacts see you as a viable partner in the organization by highlighting how your strengths can further their mission.

3.  “I will improve my resume by emphasizing accomplishments and recent experiences.”

Accomplishments can be communicated to new contacts as well as in revisions of your resume and cover letter.

4.  “I will participate in regional job fairs.”

Job fairs are a great opportunity to reach your weekly contacts goal, make you more visible, and expand your knowledge of the local job market.

5.  “I will make cold calls to regional prospects.”

Calling prospective employers helps you in many ways. You become more than a name in the endless string of resumes. The relationships you develop may leverage an interview and eventually a position.

6.  “I will develop action plans and present to major companies in my job search.”

The action plan is a great strategy and clearly sets you apart from other candidates. Taking time to research the corporation and create a plan that addresses company needs or goals communicates your initiative and unique talents.

7.  “I will use business intelligence and corporate research to revise my cover letter.”

Do research on companies to identify values, projects, and initiatives. Incorporate information into the cover letter by telling prospective employers how your experience and talents solve their problems.

8.  “I will become more active in my professional and community organizations.”

Being active in organizations not only enhances your networking, but may also help you develop additional skills. Serving as member of a Board clearly conveys your leadership skills.

9.  “I will demonstrate my qualities as a solid candidate in every action with potential employers.”

Interactions at every level of the organization reflect on you in the application process. Each phone call, social network posting, and face-to-face contact will be reported up the chain of command. Be deliberate and considerate to be successful.

10.  “I will present a consistent brand in my resume, cover letter, and professional contacts.”

You may have heard President Obama’s brother-in-law describe the importance of behavior on a basketball court in assessing an individual’s overall character. Although not under constant scrutiny when applying for positions, you must be aware that behavioral inconsistencies will be magnified or misinterpreted. Display your best character.

11.  “I will develop an “elevator speech” to use with my expanding professional network.”

Encapsulate key aspects of your skills and professional brand into a 30­-second speech. Use it at every opportunity.

12.  “I will use old-fashioned thank-you notes to follow up all types of contacts and keep my name fresh in people’s minds.”

You may be tempted to send an email note to follow up on a professional meeting. The sheer number of emails most people receive is overwhelming. Sending a hand-written note is another way to distinguish oneself from the crowd.

13.  “I will use social networking sites to my advantage, including adding professional resources, such as resume and career advice consultants.”

Smart use of social media can accelerate progress in your job search. You expand your network and are more likely to be seen by potential employers. Clean up any questionable postings and present yourself professionally to make the best use of social media resources.

14.  “I will continue my professional development activities to improve my skills, expand my network, and maintain my enthusiasm.”

Participating in professional development activities becomes even more critical during employment gaps. You gain focus, new ideas, and strategic contacts.

Most importantly, don’t become discouraged.  A job search can be daunting, but with a specific plan, you can re-gain a sense of control and direction. Well-defined intentions can provide a framework for a successful job search. Be confident as you move into the New Year. Armed with effective goals, you can make this your year to secure a new job!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!