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3 Assumptions You Should Never Make About Social Media for Your Job Search

WorkCoachCafeSocial media is relatively new, so we make assumptions based on a limited amount of knowledge and experience.  Making bad assumptions about how social media impacts a job search may limit opportunities and, potentially, may also lengthen the time until a job is landed.

3 Bad Assumptions About Social Media and Job Search

These are the 3 most common bad assumptions people seem to be making.

1.  Social media is a quick and easy way to land a new job. 

The assumption:

All you need to do is establish a LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest profile.  Send out a few tweets, make a few updates, post a few pictures, and the job offers will roll in.  No real effort required.  Easy-peasy!

If only that was true, we would have no unemployment!

Reality:

Social media is no short cut to a job.  It is, however, a necessary element for job search success in many fields because it is becoming such an integral part of how we communicate with each other.

Read Why Isn’t LinkedIn Helping My Job Search? for details.

2.  Danger!  Danger!  Social media is radioactive for job search.

The assumption:

This is the flip side of # 1.  Social media kills opportunities!  People lose job opportunities because they’ve posted stupid things on Facebook. The best way to avoid such a disaster is to completely avoid all social media.

I have spoken to many job seekers who are proud that you can’t find anything about them in Google’s search results.  They aren’t sharing inappropriate comments, but they also aren’t making it clear that they understand how to use and manage social media appropriately.  

Worse, they are not establishing a clean online reputation for themselves for the 80%+ of recruiters who Google job applicants.  Oops!

Reality:

Yes, improperly used, social media can poison job opportunities.  But, it can also create them! 

Studies have shown that while most recruiters have disqualified job seekers based on what they have found posted in social media, many more recruiters have been impressed by what they found posted by job seekers.

No social media presence – particularly, no LinkedIn Profile – makes you “invisible” in a Google search.  That lack of visibility is like stamping that big “O” (for “out-of-date”) on your forehead.  It also makes you vulnerable to mistaken online identity if someone sharing your name has negative online visibility.

Read Is Your Job Search Too Old-Fashioned? for details.

3.  Show your “real personality” in social media.

The assumption:

You should share all your thoughts – be genuine and real, show your passion, and reveal your personality to employers.  Employers don’t want to hire robots  Besides, no one has any privacy any more.  

Wrong!  I’ve seen terrible messages shared by job seekers:

  • My last boss fired me on a bogus charge he trumped up.
  • Those [expletive] Yankees [expletive]!  And their fans are [expletive] [expletive]!
  • My boss at [company name] was so stupid! He didn’t know [co-worker’s name] was stealing. What a dumb [expletive]! :-)

No rational person would want to hire anyone who made those comments.  Those messages might indeed demonstrate someone’s “real personality,” but in the context of a job search, those comments show a complete lack of understanding of the online environment.

Reality:

Use social media, but treat it with respect – post as if your mother or your boss (current and future) is going to read every post you make!  Because, with Google’s assistance they may be.  And they may be judging you based on what they see.

Used correctly, social media is great for a job search.  Networking.  Learning.  Bringing attention to your knowledge and skills.  Helping others.  All good things, but only when you consider that the whole world can see your activities.  It is smarter to personally moderate your sharing to avoid damaging your job search or career.

If you absolutely must share your dark side’s rants, create an account for that purpose with an identity different from your “real” social media accounts.

Read You Are Being Watched and Judged for more information.

My Recommendation:

Use social media, but use it very carefully.  Social media is another way for you to put out “your message” – who you are and what you can do for an employer.  Think of it as personal marketing.  Think of it also as VERY PUBLIC!

More About Social Media and Job Search

Why Submitting a Resume Isn’t Enough and What You Can Do About It

Critical New Job Search Skill: Online Reputation Management

Why Isn’t LinkedIn Helping My Job Search?

Is Your Job Search Too Old-Fashioned? 

You Are Being Watched and Judged

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About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .

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