Social media: hurting or helping your job search?

Joseph Thornley writes:

I do not hire entry level people without looking at their blog, following their twitter stream and checking their Facebook presence. I want a sense of who they are over time, not just when they are in my office. I want to know what they think on the issues they care about and how they express themselves. I want to see whether and how they connect with others. And I can find out all those things from their social media presence.

What happened to the days when employers looked over your resume, did an interview (or two) and then made their decision based on information and observations gathered from the process?

I’ll tell you what happened.

Facebook. MySpace. Blogging. Twitter.
You get the picture…

I’ve read several articles about the effect social media now has on the hiring process. Most of the articles looked at this trend negatively, but I disagree.

It’s a win-win situation for employers and employees.

Before social media took over, employers relied solely on resumes, interviews and references to help them decide whether or not a candidate met all of the requirements. They only got to see the sugar-coated, polished, dressed-up version of candiates.
Now, they have the tools to help them scratch the surface a bit to see if the nut inside is as fetching as the shell.

If you have common-sense (which, funny enough, isn’t very common at all), you know employers are looking at Facebook profiles, MySpace pages and blogs to help them figure out who they should and shouldn’t hire.

Having said that, you should think twice before posting or writing anything on the World Wide Web.

Remember that picture of you after a couple of tequila shots from last Friday’s pub night?
(note to self: take pictures from pub night down)

Probably not something your potential employer would like to see.

I think if you keep in mind that your audience consists of more than just classmates and friends, having a strong and active presence in the social media world means:

  • you can showcase your strong communication and writing skills
  • employers can verify that the nut inside the shiny shell is just as admirable
  • you can paint a very positive and accurate picture of yourself
  • you can set yourself apart from the other candidates (involvement in/with companies, organizations, etc.)

One more thing. If you have ANY of the following listed under “interests” or “activities”, you may want to consider revising that list:

  • Drinkin’ wit my pples and havin’ a hella good tyme
  • Rollin’ fat ones
  • Moochin off my ‘rents
  • Just chillin’ and veggin’ out

Why did I mention that? Please read this article.



  1. ramsayramsay said

    You bring up a good point that searching for a potential employee (or employer) on the internet can be a good thing. Most people are frightened by the idea, but in PR you are representing so much more then yourself and much of what you do is done in the public eye. In my opinion, you shouldn’t have anything to hide. Google me all you want, find my blog, read about all the great things I do. I will personally give you my facebook password and you can search away. The truth is, you won’t find anything bad about me and if you do, tough. I don’t want to work for an organization that feels a photo of me having a causal drink is incriminating. Obviously use discretion, but I think people are spending too much time obsessing over their social media presence. It is common sense, and if you don’t have the basic skills to know what should be on the web and what shouldn’t be, you probably shouldn’t get the job anyway.

  2. Kristen Zemlak said

    Maricel — fantastic post. I share the same sentiment about opportunities within the blogosphere — especially in terms of creating a brand for yourself. Increasingly, companies are hiring for fit, rather than technical competency. Keeping the common-sense rule of thumb in mind, if employers don’t like what they see in your online portfolio, it’s probably something better uncovered earlier, rather than later!

  3. Gary Schlee said

    Thanks for pointing out the New York Times article, Maricel. The more actual examples we hear about, the greater our ability to hone our ‘common sense’ approach to using social media tools effectively.

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