Social media has become a deal breaker when it comes to hiring employees.
Companies such as Vivint, Wallaroo and Lithium Technologies look for potential employees who will make them look good online and will often check on applicants to make sure they can don’t behave in a way that would embarrass the companies.
“We’ve probably not hired a handful of people because of what we’ve found on Facebook,” said Connor Callaway, director of talent acquisition for Vivint. “People should keep their social media private and/or super clean, or it comes back to bite you.”
Taking down any embarrassing pictures and keeping one’s head down isn’t enough to save a person in the hiring process though. Companies don’t just want people with a clean online presence; they want people with a strong one.
Having a strong social media presence says something about how engaging an applicant is. Such individuals are the ones who will expand the the company brand and contribute to that all-important bottom line.
“Companies definitely gain an increased brand awareness,” Doyle said. “They can also build out strategies that effectively utilize the social media presence of their employees. Some even create reward programs around this.”
Companies also use social media as a mechanism to measure the capability and potential of applicants.
“Everything you do lives online. Everything,” said Ulrika Haug, Director of Product Marketing at Lithium Technologies, parent company of Klout. She explained that being active on social media can show an individual’s networking skills both online and offline.
One way of measuring how well someone communicates online is a Klout score. A Klout score can show people how well they engage others online and if they need to expand their reach in order to be competitive in the social media world.
“A Klout score is just one indicator of online reputation and expertise, but it’s a really good one,” Haug said. “So really, it’s necessary in any field that requires you to have a strong online presence and/or any field that requires someone to be social media savvy.”
The capacity of social media to get information out to an unprecedented audience size is expanding. But with all the information competing for attention, companies need people who will get their content into the public eye.
“As a company, you want to be in front of people where they are spending their time online,” Doyle said. “If you’re a company without a social media strategy, you’re quickly falling behind.”
Business, marketing, public relations, human resources and graphic design are just a few of the fields increasingly looking for people with strong social media skills.
One essential component of an online profile should be a LinkedIn page. According to LinkedIn’s website, it is the largest professional network in the world, with millions of members across the globe.
LinkedIn is essentially an online resume but with several added features that make it attractive to employers, such as being able to see if people have endorsed the skills applicants have listed and being able to look at the company pages for the places applicants have worked. People can also add pictures of their workplaces or links to projects they have been involved in.
“Strong LinkedIn profiles will definitely help a candidate get a job,” Callaway said. “We’re looking for skills, work history and education on LinkedIn — it’s like an expanded resume. We can look for common connections with a candidate to see friends and former colleagues.”
Peter Inouye has found success through his online presence. As an advertising major, he has found that an online platform has been ideal to showcase his portfolio and projects. He actively uses social media as his own website to get a strong Klout score of 61.
This summer Inouye is interning with the San Fransico advertising firm BBDO. After meeting a recruiter at an event, Inouye followed up through email and LinkedIn. BBDO then looked into his resume, work samples and references found on his LinkedIn page and personal website and offered him a job.
“My website, LinkedIn, and other social channels told enough of my story and abilities that they felt I was a good fit without asking me probing questions or asking me to solve some case study,” Inouye said.
Inouye feels that an online presence is essential to shaping how employers see an applicant.
“I would recommend any student seeking employment create their own website as a place to house their resume, work samples, contact information and interesting things about themselves that would make them more attractive to potential employers,” he said.