Put you hand up if you have one of the following accounts; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Tumblr, blogger, Google +, YouTube, or MySpace? I hope that everyone reading this article has their hand up to one of those accounts, because social media is a large part of our generation. According to Next Advisor, an independent research firm, 89% of people aged 18-29 years old are using social media in some capacity. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, as daily we see people in class distracted by their phones, tablets and laptops, communicating with everyone who isn't in the room. And it also shouldn't shock any one that businesses and employers are taking notice and jumping on the band wagon. They are using social media for marketing, recruiting and reviewing staff engagement on new levels. Gone are the days when your personal and professional lives are separate, and we need to keep ahead of them.
So let’s get some more stats out of the way; 93% of marketers use social media. That means that less than 1 in 10 businesses are focusing on you in the real world, instead they pay more attention to your online persona. And here is why; 25% of smartphone owners aged 18-44 can’t remember the last time their phone wasn’t next to them, and only 17% report that they spent more than 3 hours away from it. This gives marketers more time with you, as the #1 use of the internet right now is social media. Yes, that’s right, SOCIAL MEDIA. And these statistics aren’t even the scary ones. 23% of Facebook users check their account 5+ times a day, and 25% of these users don’t bother with privacy settings. This means that you are active, engaged and posting online, and everyone can see what you are doing. So why wouldn't marketers and employers take advantage of this fact?
Now that we've covered the hard stats, let’s look at the recruiters’ point of view for social media. For those of you who have taken Intro to HR, you’ll know that interviews are not a very reliable source of information to make a judgement on you as a person. Either you are at the top of your game, dressed to impress and flashing that winning smile and credentials, or you are a nervous wreck who is trying to hide sweat marks and stuttering to answer questions. With the rising cost of recruitment and retention, recruiters will look for anyway to differentiate you from the crowd, and justify their decision to hire you. Facebook is the easiest way to do this, as it keeps a history of you since birth, which is creepy on its own, and also relies on friends and family to tag you in embarrassing statuses and pictures, showing the world how “normal” you really are. From there, these recruiters filter your life through their own constructs and decide if you are worthy enough to work with them.
Now this may seem like a harsh reality, and you may be asking “how does anyone get a job in this world”, but the truth sometimes hurts. But here are a few helpful hints on how to handle the social media monster;
1. Take a personal inventory of your social media assets.
This may sound weird, but it’s very simple. Review what you have posted, and make changes for the better. Most social media sites allow you to remove or edit your walls and history, so go ahead and make yourself look good. Party pictures and morning after breakfasts only look good in your mind, seldom in the harsh light of an iPhone camera. You don’t need to remove everything, just the posts that are on the far end of the spectrum of “wild benders”. Recruiters are people too, and they will understand a few posts here and there.
2. Get rid of accounts that are no longer useful.
Remember that Nexopia account you opened in grade 7? Well the internet does. And Google is not shy about revealing that information about you. So do yourself the favor of shutting it down and not letting hackers, spammers or other people use the account for their own purposes. If you don’t use it; lose it!
3. Only use what you can manage.
Don’t sign up for the next big thing in social media if what you are using does the trick. The primary purpose of social media is to create a community for you, and if Facebook, Twitter and Instagram do that already, then don’t rush off and join something that will die in a week anyway. Greatest example of this: Vine. The 6 six-second video clips were quickly replaced by Instagram doing the same thing. If you are looking for novelty, go for it. But if you want purpose, stick with the core basics.
Passionate about technology, human resources, and nurturing great talent!