Studies tell us, they warn, that employers more than ever use social media when looking to fill jobs. So if you aren’t visible online, you may miss out or not get hired at all.
Well … there is some truth to that. But there’s also more to the picture.
Some of the advice is based on surveys that tell us that a vast majority of employers (at least those interviewed) say they most definitely use social media at some point during the hiring process. Therefore, they conclude, you not only need to use social media to get a job nowadays, but you need to be very actively engaged in it if you hope to be found.
One of my pet peeves is using studies to draw inaccurate conclusions.
There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth. ~ Maya Angelou
Let’s take a look what what the studies do and don’t tell us
A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that is often quoted, got a 19% response rate from a sample of HR professionals who are also members of their group. Already, you are not only selecting from a group that probably has a greater affinity for social media to begin with, but those who actually responded may be even more likely to use social media to help recruit candidates.
So, although I am not in any way suggesting the SHRM study isn’t sincere and probably as good as studies can get, we need to take studies like this with at least several grains of salt before leaping all the way into the full-tilt boogie social media scene.
That said, one of their findings about which social media tool employers use to recruit does ring true for me, and perhaps is a good guide for where to focus most of your social media energy. LinkedIn, according to their study, was used by 94% of respondents to look for candidates they might not find any other way – they call it “passive job candidates.”
And, while 54% say they use Facebook and 39% Twitter, almost all use LinkedIn. My guess is this is fairly representative of anyone who knows the social media scene.
My take on this? Use LinkedIn as your quickie resume to the world, and do what you want with the others. But I think it may be easier and perhaps wiser to keep Facebook personal – with some mention of your skills and what you are looking for if that feels right to you.
No need to make both your job search platform – and certainly no need to keep many social media balls up in the air at the same time if the odds are the recruiter will check LinkedIn anyway. And I’d say that with or without any studies.
What about social media for screening candidates?
The SHRM study also tells us that less and less people use social media to screen candidates, in some cases for legal privacy concerns, in some because of questionable relevance, and in others simply not having the spare hands and eyes to do it. But another survey I found said about 90% of hiring managers (may not all be HR folks) DO use social media to screen.
My take on this? Don’t take any chances with your online reputation – whether HR folks admit to using social media for screening or not, my guess is, if you are a final candidate, odds are at some point someone will indeed check you out in a search engine. So be ahead of the game and do it yourself first – and do what you can to correct or delete anything that might get in your way of being hired.
Some summary thoughts about social media
The thing about social media is that it’s very … well … social. And so it likes to talk about itself. And the more it talks about itself, the more important it makes itself seem.
Of course, in some cases, there is good reason. Social media sites have become real players in the job search and recruitment scene. My guess is external recruiters rely on it heavily, especially LinkedIn.
And so if you want to increase your chances of being found, most definitely set up a LinkedIn profile, making it into a professional representation of who you are and what you have to offer an employer. And when thinking about how much to include, I’d keep it simple and sharply honed – less is more.
Why did I even mention all this?
Because I think job seekers are being scared into spending way more time than they need to working on multiple social media profiles, and spending way too much time just hanging out in the social media world, thinking they are doing all they can to help their job search – and feeling good because “scientific studies” tell them all this really matters. And this may be to the detriment of time more wisely spent elsewhere.
So if your preference is to include some Twitter and Facebook time, cool. But what really matters with social media may be as simple as a good professional LinkedIn profile plus a clean online reputation all other places. And, of course, knowing how to use social media to your best advantage to not only be found, but to actually find jobs you want.
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