Last month, I had an opportunity to speak at the Harrisburg University Social Media Summit on a panel called, “Social Networking and the Job Search.” The discussion was focused on how job seekers can use social networks to optimize their search. The panelists had a lot to offer and I felt it could be valuable to share some of this information with our readers. I recently interviewed one of the panelists, Amanda Haddaway. She is a Human Resources expert and author who offers insight and resources for navigating the modern-day job search.
How has the online world changed the way candidates are searching for jobs and how human resource professionals select candidates?
Gone are the days of sitting with the local newspaper and circling ads of interest. Almost all job searches are now conducted through online and off-line networking. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported that 94 percent of successful job hunters claimed that networking made all the difference for them.
Social media can be a great tool for harnessing the real power of your network. In many cases, job seekers sell themselves short on the actual size of their networks. I use a worksheet that helps job seekers add up their various online and off-line connections. For a lot of candidates, their true network size is several hundred, if not thousand, people.
It’s very easy to post information on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms to let people know that you’re looking for a new opportunity. You never know when a friend or connection may know of an opening in your field. These platforms can also be used to research prospective employers.
It’s really that whole idea of “six degrees of separation.” Some analysts are saying that social media has reduced that to four degrees.
Recruiters and HR professionals are also increasingly dependent on finding candidates online. LinkedIn is still the most widely used, but Facebook – and its apps BeKnown and BranchOut – and Twitter are also gaining momentum for sourcing candidates. I think we’ll also see an increase in the use of YouTube by both employers and candidates in the coming years.
Are human resources professionals researching candidates online? What kinds of things should candidates be conscious of as it relates to their online image?
Yes, an increasing number of employers are doing pseudo-background checks on prospective employees by seeing what’s online about their candidates.
Be aware that anything you post online could be in the public domain. If you’re posting comments or images online, they may be visible to prospective employers.
Candidates would be wise to Google their own names and find out what’s posted. If a candidate has a common name, there may be postings that aren’t about the person. If the posts about the person of the same name are unfavorable, it might be worth addressing this with the prospective employer.
I also recommend taking the following steps to monitor your online image:
Determine what’s “out there” about you. Google your name and see what comes up, review your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Remove any inappropriate or workplace-unfriendly content.
Be honest. If you know there is unflattering content posted about you online and you’ve tried to remove it without success, be upfront with your recruiter or interviewers. Explain the situation and ensure that the interviewers know that the information is not a true reflection of who you are and how you would perform as their employee.
Going forward, be careful about what you post. Remember that anything posted in the public domain may remain public indefinitely and could be available to a prospective employer.
Use free tools to continually monitor your online presence. If you set up a Google Alert on your name, you will receive an email each time your name shows up in a Google search.
On the HU panel, you mentioned glassdoor.com. Can you tell us more about that? What are some other resources that folks can use when searching for a job?
I always encourage job seekers to do their homework. The Internet is a very valuable resource and makes researching companies much easier than it once was. Find out as much information as possible about the company and job you are interviewing for in order to be better prepared.
Glassdoor.com recently launched Inside ConnectionsTM, a tool that connects Glassdoor’s existing functionality with Facebook’s networking capabilities to allow users to view their friends and where they work now or have worked in the past.
For most job-seekers, friends and family are the go-to people for finding out about companies. If your best friend raves about her employer, you’re probably more inclined to consider jobs with that organization. In fact, according to a recent Harris survey, people rate their friends and family as the most trusted resource for learning about companies (52 percent), followed by feedback and reviews from other people who work at the company (14 percent).
It’s worth checking out if you’re not familiar with Glassdoor. Some of the posted reviews can be a little bit biased, but there’s information on this site that you won’t find on the company’s website or marketing materials.
I’m also a big fan of LinkedIn groups. Groups are a great way to extend your network even further. By joining a conversation, you may learn about job opportunities that haven’t been posted to the mainstream sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com. There are groups for practically every career field, area of interest, alumni groups, etc.
If you were searching for a candidate, what would gain a ‘seal of approval,’ above all else?
I tend to gravitate to candidates who take the time to customize their resumes to the specific openings. If it’s easy for me to see the correlation between their knowledge, skills and abilities and my job openings, I have an easier time seeing how they would fit into the organization.
Over the past decade, Amanda has worked in many facets of human resources and marketing, including recruiting, training, employee communications, corporate compliance, social media and advertising campaign development. She currently serves as the director of human resources and marketing for Folcomer Equipment Corporation, a multi-state construction equipment dealership. Prior to her employment at Folcomer Equipment, Amanda worked for SRA International, a Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For.
Amanda holds a master’s degree from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University.