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Facebook brought in more than a social media revolution. It created a world where your virtual life matters as much as your real one. And don’t think it applies only to your personal life – today, more than your friends, family and potential mates, it’s your next employer who wants to know everything about you.
Today, Facebook has a whopping 2.05 billion active users across the world. Its ‘professional’ cousin, LinkedIn, has more than 500 million users globally. Given the explosive growth of various social media sites and apps, the trend is here to stay. And the way it is being used is ever-expanding and adapting. No longer the exclusive domain of millennials planning their next selfie share, recruiters have come to rely on social networks to find the best employees.
Recently, Forbes reported that more than a third of employers were less likely to interview applicants they couldn’t find online. Why? Because easily-accessible information about potential candidates gives employers a sense of familiarity with them.
Dominik Hahn, Project Lead for Allianz’s Sourcing Hubs, believes that an online presence helps professionals build a personal brand and even find jobs online and apply for them easily. You could also catch the eye of recruiters who actively go through profiles to find suitable match. Your new ‘résumé’ is your social profile – many websites, including Allianz’s career portal , even allow you to submit your professional data directly from LinkedIn, skipping the cumbersome process of filling out umpteen boxes. It’s also easy to share job listings with others you think belong in those roles. Your contacts reflect your professional standing and that opens up opportunities. “30-40 percent of a company’s hirings should come from referrals,” says Hahn.
Barbara Wittmann, Recruitment Solutions Director and member of the leadership team at LinkedIn Germany, Austria and Switzerland, believes your online profile is more important now than ever before. Skilled professionals are scarce, and a 2016 LinkedIn study revealed that a huge proportion of German companies are increasingly searching far and wide online to fill gaps in their workforce.
Only if you keep your profile up-to-date and well-curated!
“Your online presence can showcase the things in life you are passionate about to members of communities you belong to,” says Oliver Purcell, digital strategist at Allianz. “When you tell the ‘world’ about your skills, share knowledge with others, and join discussion groups on topics you are interested in, you automatically get in touch with people who could help you start or enhance your career.”
Personal blogs, if professionally relevant, can show a recruiter that you are passionate and knowledgeable. Often, you can also include links to your online references when applying for a job. As bots enter every sphere, online recruiting could become automated too. FOMO could turn real then!
Fine, you’re convinced. So how do you take your online profile from “Go!” to “Woah!”? Read on.
Draw a firm line between private and professional. Recruiters can and will check your profile. You don’t want to introduce yourself to them with photos at drunken parties. Google yourself and see what results throw up. Even if you’re sharing images on non-professional social media networks such as Facebook or Instagram, do remember to lock any pics that could harm your professional image with the privacy settings. All it takes is a click in the right box. Review the privacy settings for all your online accounts. Image – real or virtual - is everything.
On LinkedIn, you’re an actuary but on Xing you last worked at the local pizza joint. Mixed messages will make any recruiter question your honesty or your work ethic. Make sure your profiles match across channels. Good housekeeping isn’t just for your home!
Ever heard this saying: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? In Germany, professional networking platform Xing is immensely popular. In Australia, not so much. So get active on the most popular social networks where you are.
“A professional photo is essential to get the attention of visitors,” says Wittmann. So important, that profiles with a picture get 21 times more clicks than those without. But don’t even think about using a casual, long-distance or old picture – you must look like an employable person. Get a professional photo taken, wearing what you would wear to work and smiling with your eyes.
So you were “a part of the Risk Analysis team”. What does that say about your skills? Practically nothing. You could be the one making presentations for the team’s meetings or the one analyzing risks. Compare this to: “developed and managed a new business model for identifying and assessing project risks.” Suddenly, you went from any coworker to a project leader! Your employer will also thank you for being descriptive. It helps others better understand what your employer does. Use active, positive language in your profile to tell your story and highlight your achievements.
Does anyone search for a potential employee with keywords like ‘thought leader’, ‘strategic thinker’, ‘innovator’ or ‘visionary’? Unlikely. Try ‘risk analyst’, ‘project manager’, ‘underwriter’, ‘content writer’, ‘economist’, ‘nuclear scientist’ and so on. Recruiters and other professionals tend to search with clear job profiles. Check out job ads for your career profile and incorporate the same terminology in your description. Use a title and summary that matches the terms recruiters would use to describe the jobs you want. Also, use simple words and standard terms used in your industry.
Building a profile is just the start. Staying active by sharing, commenting and endorsing makes your online presence that much more effective. According to Wittmann, you can build your professional brand by writing posts on industry insights and engaging in online discussions. “You never know when the next business opportunity will come around,” she says. Your online profile gains credibility when your abilities and competencies are endorsed by others. If you make the effort to endorse others’ skills on LinkedIn (when you genuinely feel they deserve it, of course), people usually return the favor. Share relevant, interesting content on your feed, comment on posts where you have something to say and endorse others’ skills.
To have a better online presence, you need to be part of a large and vibrant network. Follow industry leaders to connect with people in areas you have an interest in and connect with everyone you have a good work relationship with. Sync your LinkedIn profile to your email address book, and add new connections when you meet people on a professional level.
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