restell.social.mediaWe’ve all read about the huge impact social media is having across a range of business functions. Recruiting has certainly been transformed. But what are the implications for you as a candidate? What do you need to be doing differently in the current jobs market, compared with what you might have focused on several years ago?

Let me share 3 key things you should be doing to maximise your chances of being hired for that dream opening: strategically updating your social media profiles, building yourself a professional brand image and cleaning up your online presence. Let’s look at each in turn:

1. Strategically updating your social media profiles.

There’s a little-known fact about hiring today that’s essential to act upon if you want to ensure you’re not missing out on opportunities. Whilst companies continue to post lots of their vacancies online, a growing proportion of roles are now being filled without the position ever having been publicly advertised – the so-called “Hidden Jobs Market”.

This is happening in two ways. Firstly, companies are searching LinkedIn (and other social sites) to identify and approach their ideal hires directly. Secondly they are using more advanced employee referral schemes that leverage the social networks of their existing employees.

The critical success factor for candidates is that your profiles (most notably your LinkedIn profile and Google+ profile) need to be keyword optimised. This is to ensure that they start appearing in the search results when recruiters are looking on these sites for potential hires. Plus this increases the likelihood that you appear as a match when (automated) employee referral programs are looking for candidates in the employee network who are suited to current vacancies.

The trick here is to look at job listings on places like Careers in Government and pay particular attention to the bullet point list of “must have” candidate attributes. When recruiters are searching for people on LinkedIn, they’ll be searching for the things that they know a candidate must have to make them eligible for their open role. So if you research these “must haves” and then ensure all that are applicable to you you’ve included in your profiles, you’ll then start appearing in far more recruiter searches as a potential match.

2. Building yourself a professional brand image.

The second thing all candidates need to be aware of is that recruiters will be looking at your social profiles alongside your resume, when deciding whether to call you in for interview. Do your profiles make you look like someone who is well connected in the sector, with a good understanding of the key issues of the day? Someone who is an influencer with good networking skills and a likeable personality?

How active you are on social networks, who you’ve connected with, which groups you participate in, what you choose to share, how you interact with others. These are all things that have the potential to sway a recruiter and make them look more favourably on your candidacy. So invest some time in doing these things well. Better still, you could be proactive and actually strike up a relationship with the recruiter even before you’ve submitted an application!

3. Cleaning up your online presence.

Last but by no means least, you need to be tackling the negative impression that your online presence may give to a recruiter. Have you tried googling yourself and checking the first pages of results to see what a recruiter might uncover? You must do this – and put in a removal request with Google for any content you uncover that could undermine your candidacy. This can take a couple of weeks, so you want to be undertaking this exercise well in advance of any job applications you might be making.

Similarly, what is out there on social media that could make you come unstuck? Facebook’s graph search allows anyone to search Facebook and uncover things about someone that they perhaps didn’t intend to be for public consumption. Or indeed photos that you’ve been tagged in but didn’t actually upload yourself. Be Sherlock Holmes for the day and try to uncover anything negative about yourself that’s out there on Facebook, Twitter and the like – be that photos, comments or posts that could make someone question your candidacy. You have to assume recruiters will find these things and take the necessary remedial action before investing any of your time in actually making applications.

Good luck!

Tony Restell is the Founder of Social-Hire.com and helps recruiters and candidates make better use of social media. You can follow Tony and reach out to him on @tonyrestell or on Google+

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