If you've heard that job recruiters are checking out potential hires online in favor of relying on old-school resumes, know that it's not an urban legend. In fact, according to JobVite's 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, 93 percent of recruiters will review a prospect's social profile before making a hiring decision. Even more eye opening is that 55 percent of recruiters said that something they discovered online caused them to reconsider hiring someone.
On the other hand, branding yourself online can be the quickest route to your next job opportunity (see: Signs You're Stuck in Your Career). Consider this: 73 percent of recruiters in the JobVite survey say they have hired a candidate through social media, and it's not only via LinkedIn. While 94 percent do use the career networking site to search for candidates, keep tabs on prospective hires, and vet applicants pre-interview, 66 percent of recruiters do the same on Facebook, and 52 percent use Twitter.
Standing out online -- in a good way -- goes beyond just making sure your Facebook page and other social network profiles are devoid of incriminating pictures and comments. Here are 10 ways to improve your social resume and open career doors:
1) Create a great summary in three sentences or less. Find a way to accurately sum up your background and career interests in just a few sentences. This basic bio can be adapted for your website as well as the profile sections of your social networking pages on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, etc.
2) Choose a better profile picture. You don't necessarily need a professional headshot, but make sure it's a decent photo of you. That means no sunglasses, no drink holding, no odd background, and no obvious cropping out of the person standing next to you.
3) Use keywords you want to be associated with. Think about the skills and credentials you have that a prospective employer might search for when looking for candidates. By loading your social resume with such phrases, it's more likely that your page will turn up in search results.
4) Follow a resume format, but be less formal. You don't have to list your work history in reverse chronological order like you'd do on a paper resume. However, you want to be sure to include the highlights on your social resume just the same. Add bullet points with your major accomplishments, experience, educational credentials, special skills, etc. Because it's online, take advantage of the ability to add links to your work samples. These could be live web links, PDFs to download, or other multimedia components, such as a video clip of a seminar you conducted.
5) Manage your online reputation. After putting in the hard work of creating a strong social resume, you want to be sure that your digital footprint stays squeaky clean. Remember, employers aren't just looking at LinkedIn -- they're browsing Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, too. Set some parameters on who can see photos you've been tagged in on Facebook. You should also Google yourself frequently to see what comes up (and be mindful about things you post online using your name or email address, including blog comments).
6) Keep your social resume updated and fresh. One of the traps people fall into once they've created a resume is forgetting about it. Online, you should be adding new accomplishments as often as they happen. That way you don't forget anything, and you won't go into desperate panic mode should the day come when you need to look for work fast. Another bonus? When you update your social pages, it will show up on your network's newsfeed, keeping you top of mind.
7) Consider creating your own website. While this step is not necessary for every type of professional, having a blog or website of your own is a super tool for branding and marketing yourself. If you're going to go this route, make sure your site looks professional. Other things to keep in mind: Choose a memorable but uncomplicated URL, and make sure the website has a singular focus.
8) Have a consistent online persona. While it's true that you should be most concerned with your LinkedIn page from a professional standpoint, you want to make sure there aren't inconsistencies between what you post there and what you post on other platforms. One way to do that is to make sure any updates are reflected across the board.
9) Once you've done all the hard work, it's time to promote yourself. Link to your social resume in your email signature, from your site/blog, and on your business cards. Even better, make your pages as shareable as possible by embedding share buttons, such as those offered by online tools like Share This.
10) Don't forget to spellcheck. It's quite easy to make a typo when you're updating social pages, but when your career depends on it, be extra careful. A recruiter might be turned off if he or she notices misspellings and grammar flubs.
Just as you put time into perfecting your paper resume, maintaining a fantastic social resume can help get your name out there. By applying the strategies above, and being mindful about the things you post, you'll stay one step ahead of the job competition. Consider adding another degree to your resume by checking out additional online degree programs.
JobVite's 2014 Social Recruiting Social Recruiting Survey, https://www.jobvite.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Jobvite_SocialRecruiting_Survey2014.pdf