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Take stock of your social footprint

Published: Wednesday 5th July 2017

We’ve spoken in a previous blog post about how recruiters use social channels to profile or research a candidate. Barely a day goes by without reading a new survey about how much more recruiters are using social media to vet candidates, so perhaps it’s time as a job seeker to take stock of your social footprint as part of a review of your personal digital ‘brand’ ahead of a job search push? So, from a job seeker’s point of view what exactly should you do? The approach should be to review what’s out there about you and improve what you can. There will be some things you can change, and some things you can hope to influence. We know it’s notoriously difficult to remove content, so don’t fret about the stuff you can’t control, just clean up what you can.

Social footprint – what’s out there?

Google your name, and you may well find others with your name, in possibly same location. Try searching for your job title as well, or your hometown. It might be that a prospective employer might not delve so deep, but what if they do? Find yourself by whatever means, and take a critical look at what you find. And factor-in those profiles of people who come up for you – it might be that your greatest challenge is to differentiate yourself from them.

Rise to the top

All social media icons on a blue background

There’s nothing you can do about content from similar-named people, but you can try to push them down into relative obscurity with content you do control. The aim is to rise to the top of searches for your name. Make who you are unambiguous; leave a searcher in no doubt they’ve found the real you. If you haven’t already, set up your own domain, or use one of many one-page personal website sites like About.me, and point these to your preferred social profiles. Tie everything together, so if a potential employer finds one social element of you, the paper trail is connected. Create new content if necessary on the larger social sites that carry clout on the WWW, like Google+ or Flickr for instance. In other words, piggyback off them to help raise your own profile.

Review your social profiles

Look at your social profiles as if you were a potential employer. They don’t have to be squeaky clean, but they should answer two key questions: ‘Should I hire this person?’ or ‘Are they who they say they are?’ How do you profile picture look? Professional? Personable? It could it be time to update it with one’s that a bit more career-oriented. Replace it with a good headshot perhaps, and change the wording to reflect your career aspirations. You can always revert back to your real self after you’ve landed that perfect job! Also get into the habit of at least one serious post in between the banter – to show you can balance the work-life mix! LinkedIn is so often at the forefront of professional social channels, so it is worth focusing on it first. Aim to be truthful, and make sure your career history leaves no glaring gaps. Be proactive on LinkedIn, join Groups, comment on relevant posts, be seen to be active in your professional field.

Dare to dig up dirt?

It’s fair to say potential employers are looking for general, you-are-who-you-say-you-are ‘endorsements’ and probably won’t go beyond your profile and your most recent posts. But maybe you should think about looking for questionable content, just in case. Try the same Google search you did in the early phase of this project, but switch to show Images. Over on Twitter, their advanced search lets you find your own tweets. You might, for instance, want to search for certain keywords. Similarly, In Facebook, search ‘your name posts’ then filter by Posted By = You, and delete away.

girl looking at phone seeing bad news or photos feeling shocked.

Go back in time. Or ahead.

Your search for yourself may well have found those old social profiles you signed-up for but used but once, like Google Plus. The hard part will be trying to remember the email/password combination! It’s worth the effort, if you get in, to either freshen up the content or delete the account. A great site that for checking current and old social profiles is Namechk.com. If you tend to use one username across many social sites, plug it in here and see if it’s active on dozens of current and historic social sites. Also useful to find out the other ‘yous’, or if you want to create a new persona.

Other thoughts

Of course, there’s always social content, especially photos, that others have posted in which you are tagged. Naturally, you could always ask them to untag you. Over on Instagram, think about making your feed private (hey, you need some social space to yourself, right?). In fact, it may be worth the effort to create a new social profile for a new, career-focused you. A personal rebranding, so to speak.

And when you’re happy with the new you, launch your job search. While your social channels may be a place to find a job, there’s no better place than Zoek to find that perfect job!

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