Jeremy Nicholls, Group Business Development Manager at MCG Group, talks about how social media platforms have evolved to become an integral part of how candidates portray themselves…
“Personal branding is paramount in the digital age to ensure you are giving off the right impression. Make sure you are happy with yours.”
In the eight years that I have been recruiting, the industry has changed and evolved in many ways, especially in the use of social media to advertise jobs, promote your brand and headhunt suitable candidates for vacancies. When I started recruiting in 2009, Facebook had 200 million users and compared to its current level (1.7 billion), was very much in its infancy. Linkedin was even smaller at 40 million (now 106 million), Twitter was just a toddler at three years old and Snapchat hadn’t even hit the online shelves of the app store.
In today’s digital world we are far more connected and accessible then ever before. Social media has its supporters as well as its detractors, but no one can deny that it has made the world smaller by allowing us to interact with people we historically didn’t get the chance to. It also encourages us to promote ‘brand me’ and if done correctly can have some great benefits on a professional level.
If managed incorrectly however, it can lead to embarrassment (pictures of those cringe-worthy 90’s haircuts) or even disaster with many reports of people losing their jobs based on social media faux pas’.
In my current position, I meet a lot of clients, I always try to be as prepared as possible ahead of meeting someone new and one of the first things I do is review their Linkedin profile − I’d be lying if I said I don’t look them up on Facebook too. I try to find out about the person (do we have any mutual connections, where are they from, where did they study, what are their interests) so I can discover common grounds to help me build rapport and develop a good relationship. Your social media profiles are the ‘you’ you decide to show the digital world. When you are in the situation of looking for a new job the important question to ask yourself is, ‘Is this how I want to project myself to a potential future employer?’
I’m a firm believer of ‘first impressions mean a lot’, when starting any relationship, be it personal or professional. If a potential employer’s first impression of you is based on the ‘digital’ you, it’s crucial that you are comfortable with how you present yourself and it’s suitable for the job or career of your choice. A wise person once said ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and your profile picture can tell a story all on it’s own. What we are never able to control is another person’s opinion, what we can control is how we manage that opinion: is a picture of you in fancy dress at the Rugby 7’s a suitable image you wish to promote? It may well be, depending on industry, etc. but it could also be taken the wrong way.
Employment itself in many ways has become more casual − this can be seen in dress code (remember the power suits in Mad Men?), flexible hours and home working. But what is important to remember is when a company employs us, we represent them as an ambassador of their brand.
When applying for a position, know the company. Does it have the sort of culture that represents something which will engage you and allow you to thrive? Do your research, look at its website and social media accounts (if any) and try to speak to people who work there now or in the past. If you think it looks right for you, consider the way your social media accounts present you and whether your digital appearance is in line with the company. Your picture, your groups, your posts. All of these things can potentially be taken into consideration for your application. Most recruitment agencies would be able to help advise you on how to best present yourself, while keeping the said client in mind.
If you are active on Linkedin (which I recommend), ask former colleagues or clients for recommendations, which will act as additional references for you. Put plenty of detail into your profile, consider it as an extension of your CV. Never be afraid to add your hobbies and interests. All of these are an insight into you outside of work and shows you as a real person.
In 2017 it’s important to remember your social media reputation actually counts! When you apply for a job, employers have the ability to look you up online. Personal branding is paramount in the digital age to ensure you are giving off the right impression. Make sure you are happy with yours.