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Social Media: how to use it to your advantage (and what you want to avoid)

Social-Media-Job-Referral-Featured

Social Media or Web 2.0 as it is also known has become a great tool for all: from students to job seekers, from HR staff to managers, almost everybody has a Facebook or WeChat account, many also have a Twitter account and some (mostly professional job seekers) also hold a LinkedIn account…

But how useful (or beneficial) are these tools for job seekers?

In a recent poll, 37 percent of employers and HR managers mentioned they use social media to “screen” potential candidates (and these percentages are growing). Some “Google” your name after receiving your resume, some lookup your profiles to see if you “exist” and evaluate your character and personality (based on what they can /or cannot see from you).

Many of these employers commented they ignore professional candidates who don’t “exist” on the Internet (for them, this is a sign that you are either hiding something, or you are computer illiterate); other reasons to ignore a candidate are: not showing a picture (or the picture is unprofessional), having a poor developed or outdated LinkedIn profile or not having any at all. Many have made decisions of (not to hire) a candidate if they see things about you they don’t like, such as inappropriate pictures, comments or communication skills; discriminatory posts, evidence of drug or alcohol abuse, inappropriate language or evidence of lying about your qualifications (resume does not match your profile).

Here are some tips for you to improve your Internet “branding”:

  • Keep Facebook and WeChat for communication with family members and friends only. If you choose to use them for job search, then make sure your profile, settings and postings reflect a professional image: you may have to take down pictures or comments, hide your wall or prevent others to write public comments or “tag” your pictures.
  • Before inviting people to join your LinkedIn network, make sure your profile is ready: do you have a professional picture? Have you proofread your description? Have you added your education and work history? Does it match your resume? Have you asked for recommendations?
  • Email: create a separate email for job search and professional networking; make sure it shows your formal name and carries an email ‘signature” that sounds professional. For immigrants to Canada, it is advisable to create an account using well-known servers such as Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail with local or global terminations such as .ca or .com . Avoid showing names in a different language or alphabet.
  • Learn and practice Netiquette: communicating in the cyberspace has its “rules” and not following them may make you appear as unprofessional. Netiquette is the equivalent to “business communication” but for Internet users.
  • Be mindful when you “like” or “share” articles and pages: all your Twitter followers and Facebook friends will see what you are doing…so the next time you share or like, think twice!
  • When using public forums, be careful about the comments you post. Certain topics are considered “taboo” or inappropriate and they will stay forever, attached to your name…
  • Finally, remember that once you press that key and send that comment, email or picture, they won’t belong to you anymore: anything you post can be shared, forwarded or printed…boosting or damaging your professional image, your potential hires and even your personal life.


Silvia-Di-Blasio2About the Author:
Argentinean born Silvia Di Blasio works as Employment Counselor for the Skills Connect program for immigrants at ISSofBC. Silvia specializes in eLearning, Credential Evaluation and Social Media. In her spare time, Silvia volunteers for many community boards and organizations.Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.

34 Comments

34 thoughts on “Social Media: how to use it to your advantage (and what you want to avoid)”

  1. It is a very helpful article. Nowadays we should watch out our behavior on the Internet. Even more than the real world! Because we leave tracks of our activities on the Internet. Some of them are visible (like pictures that you have uploaded) and some of them are hidden. (like history of your activities in the past). When it comes to finding a job, our previous activities can impact negatively on it. So we should be careful about our activities on the Internet!

  2. Nowadays, social media plays very important role in our live, and functions as a window you are opening to public. I have Facebook and WeChat accounts using for my personal interest and knowing my friend. I always keep my accounts opening only to people I know about because I am afraid of the information I shared on my account might be used by bad people. The recent news about 151 Canadians’ names are on ISIS “Kill’s list” scared me terribly. That’s why I agree with the author about separating our profession using account from our personal using account. As the author mention in her article, be mindful when using social media and take advantage of social media to help us in our profession aspect.

  3. The social media role is more effective in Canada comparing with my home country.
    There are few people who use LinkedIn for Professional networking, but based on my experience most of people didn’t know about it, or even if they had an account they had no idea how they can benefit from it in various ways and for sure they were not using it for networking.
    It was only another website for them to keep in touch with their strong ties like friends and colleagues.

  4. Such a great tips. I will create a new email account for only work purpose and make a few changes in my Linkedin profile. I constantly use an app to look for a job online and it is a good way to find my dream job in this new country and find others resumes as mine to compare experiences and education.

  5. After reading this article, I create a new email address. For my old email is made of my Chinese name, it is not popular and easy to read and remember. The new email is made of two English word and I will use it when I am searching job.

  6. After reading this article, I create a new email address. For my old email is made of my Chinese name, it is not popular and easy to read and remember. The new email is made of two English word and I will use it when I am searching job.

  7. In my opinion, we should avoid using negative language when we using the social media. It is because we don’t know who is looking at our post. There are some research indicate that the employers trend to look at the social media to figure out what are the personality of the candidates.

  8. Doing more preparation before you open a LinkedIn account is a good advice. You should use social media as personal advertisement for your career.

  9. Thank Silvia for the article of how to use social media to your advantage. It is very useful for me. I never use some online social media before such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+Hangouts. I have created a LinkedIn account for myself after I learned LinkedIn is mainly for professional networking. I am starting to work on my profile on it now.

  10. Thank you for the article Sylvia! I found it very helpful, I don’t usually like spending too much time online unless I am chatting with a family member, but is good to know some other advantages specially on professional networking. I guess I will start working on my profile on LikedIn for future needs.

  11. Before read this, I haven’t realized social network sites are so important in Canada. It can help you so much in finding a job. I thought it was just social network sites to make you and your friend to communication more easier. In China, it seems that we seldom use the social network sites in finding a job.

    I also notice the social network site can be a two-edged sword, so we need to use it carefully. I think Facebook or WeChat is more like your private life you can share with your families and your friends but it is not good to show to the public. And LinkedIn is more like your public life, you need to be well-spoken, proper dress and in good character.

  12. Since I had heard that HR managers sometimes check applicants’s social media pages, I am afraid of posting pictures or comments on my Facebook page. Even if I do not post anything harmful to me, that can be taken negatively by other people. Or even if I do not want to post anything related me, my friends may tag me on their pages without asking me for my permission.

    To avoid any possible misunderstandings, I must be careful about what I post on social media pages.

  13. I was surprised when I was first asked to search myself online, because it never occurred to me that potential employers might use social media to “screen

  14. It is so convenient to jump into the internet pool these days. It’s good to know those useful tips that could improve your internet branding.

    Thank you for your post.

  15. I didn’t know that social media is so important in Canadian work . It is very useful information.
    I will try to use those tips

  16. Is very impressive how the social media have been taking place in the professional job seekers field.
    I am not the biggest fan of computer, but I see more and more need of showing myself in the internet market to keep up with the work industry. I started with the Linkedin program, after that I comprehended how effective is to Networking with this tool. For example I could fine new contacts in the field and read other professionals profiles and experiences. Anyway now I have a long way to understand the Linkedin and other work social medias.

    I wish good luck to all of us

  17. Nice to read such useful article, and understand that HR will screen candidates from social media. I never tried to search myself on internet before, fortunately my professional Linkedin page is the only result of the searching. I did receive some messages from recruiters in China about job openings, hope that I can get some from Canadian recruiters in future. As an IT practitioner, keeping up with the evolving technology is our responsibility, one of my bosses even uses WeChat as the daily Cadence meeting to chase for sales figures. Technology changes life, take advantage of social media and help ourselves success!

  18. Woo! I can’t believe that employees will use lots social media to evaluate a potential employer in Canada. I really appreciate that you share these valuable tips for us. After read this article, i think i will pay more attention to my online presences. Everything we put online should think carefully about it , and make sure is appropriate to our professional images.

  19. HRs will search for our social media account!? Oh my god, I do not want to share my life to my boss or the HRs. If I create any account only for my job, I am afraid I will not spend a lot of time on it.

  20. Like nice clothes, we also need to have a fantastic e-profile on the internet.
    However, I found it difficult to distinguish private from public since I move to Canada. It can’t be emphasized more how important it’s for networking when we speak of finding a job. Back in my native country, we normally don’t find a job through personal connections. In the contrast, here in Canada we find job through aquantainces such as families, friends, other friendly volunteers…etc, who are also linked with me by facebook. Considering this, it’s hard to share personal lives, opinions on the page anymore.

  21. It has never crossed my mind how remarkably the recruiters use social media to make hiring. I found this article very impressive and valuable. Unfortunately it seems that our society becomes more and more transparent. We must remain vigilant to guarding our social media image.

  22. Well said, Silvia. I did notice that someone from the company read my profile before I had interview with them. I have never known that they will make decision based on it. Thanks for sharing it.
    However I am still hesitate in puting everything in my online profile. One of my friend told me that she often checked her name on website to make sure there was nothing about her. She thinks it is the best way to be safe. She does not have a LinkedIn profile.

  23. I did not know that HR manager would search our name via web site. Also, I find that I had post some personal things in my profile which may misunderstanding them. So I just cleared the data, files. This blog is very helpful to me.

  24. Social media has tremendous Impact on employer, HR manager from student to job seeker. Before I research about social media , I don’t have any idea , potential employer and HR manager they can screen a potential candidate and evaluate his Character , personality and profile.
    By the research on social media I found we have to represent a good image on any social networking site .
    We have to avoid Such nasty comment, inappropriate picture and language and Evidence of lying about your qualification.

  25. In my opinion, a best social media help people build a good image to find a job they want or do their business very well.
    There are some thing people should to avoid .
    Keep Facebook and WeChat for communication with family members and friends only. If you choose to use them for job search, then make sure your profile, settings and postings reflect a professional image: you may have to take down pictures or comments, hide your wall or prevent others to write public comments or “tag

  26. I am not happy to have learned the news. Because I don’t like to use these online social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and I don’t have an account on them. It’s unfortunate as I am checked as “no existing” in the internet while I am applying a job.

    Even now I am going to have an account on these online social media, I need to do many works. It’s another big challenge for me.

  27. I had my blog for a short time period. Then I use WeChat until now. But the WeChat is used just for fun, not related to the job. I was not used to share my professional information through these chat tools. But I am good at finding a job by searching career information from internet.

  28. I learned a lot from the article. These tips are really useful for users, especially for me. It concerns netiquette, taboo,,network and so for. When I moved to Canada, I am use to leave my email address I often used in China. It looks like unprofessional when I am looking for job or it appears in my resume. Anyway I really appreciate these tips.

  29. I am also a Facebook user, and I am not aware that HR staff are looking up to this accounts to further evaluate someone. Also, pictures do reflect personality to them.These gives me the idea that professionalism and netiquette should always be considered in a social media. It reflects your identity. Worst more if you don’t have any account in the internet.
    Thanks for the tip Silvia.

  30. This information is very useful. I heard and worry about this issue but I did not know about details. Thank for good tips.

  31. Well put Silvia! I’d like just to add that considering the serious issue of cybercrime, people should be careful about some personal information in their CV or Resume such as address, phone number and email. If they are not sure about the confidentiality and security of their correspondence, it is better to avoid sending sensetive data to unknown employers. As the saying goes: “It’s better to be safe than sorry”.

    1. I somewhat agree Payman. I agree an exact address is perhaps somewhat unnecessary but I think you really should include an email address otherwise how can this potential employer contact you?

  32. I never using Social Media to find a job. This article told us the strength and weakness about using Social Media. It may put us at a disadvantage if we don’t use it carefully to shape the on-line image that we want to put out there! We need to pay attention about using Social Media, for communication with family members and friends only or job search only.

  33. I am surprise to know that HR manager will search the candidates’s social media account. I am afraid to share my real life to my future boss. And I don’t like to create another account only for job.

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