Social media (and other) etiquette for the job search

Here are some mistakes people often make when using social media in general, but especially in the job search.

  1. Not cleaning up your online profile.  This is probably the number one mistake people make.  The great majority of recruiters these days will do a google search on their top candidates, and a compromising picture of you on Facebook or a ranting blog post about a prior employer can knock you out of the running before you even get an interview.  A surprising number of people have pictures of themselves drinking or partying on the web, and this just doesn’t leave a good impression for a recruiter.  If you must post these pictures, be sure to check the privacy settings so they aren’t visible to the world.
  2. Using your online presence for purely personal reasons.  While Facebook is mainly used for personal socializing, Twitter and Linkedin can be used for much more professional purposes.  If you spend all your Twitter tweets on what you ate today, what your cat is doing, or how extremely cool you are, you will come across as self-involved.  You could be using those tweets to post about interesting developments in your career field, which would be much more useful for a recruiter to see.
  3. Terrible grammar and spelling, lack of punctuation and capitalization.  With so many people texting in shorthand, a well-written sentence has become a little more rare than it once was.  Ensure that all your communication with recruiters is grammatically correct!
  4. Similarly, using acronyms that others won’t understand.  If you write mainly using acronyms that aren’t understood by those in the generations that didn’t grow up glued to a computer, you could be alienating (or at least baffling) much of your potential audience.  For professional communication, avoid things that have you ROFLOL but confusing everyone else.
  5. Inappropriate voicemail greetings.  Unless you plan to join the music industry, avoid a cell phone ringback as your greeting.  You need to have your own voice be in the greeting—not just some music playing.  And especially avoid a silly or flip voicemail greeting.  You don’t know who you could be alienating with that message.  By the way–*please* leave your phone number when you leave a voicemail!  I can’t think of much that’s more annoying than having to look up your phone number when you could have just remembered to leave it on my voicemail.
  6. Not updating your profile.  Many students I’ve worked with graduated last year, but their Linkedin profile headline still says “Current student studying xyz…” If you have graduated, update all your online profiles to reflect this.  Otherwise no one will know what you’re really up to.
  7. Inviting to connect on Linkedin with a generic message.  “Because you’re a person I trust…” or “I’d like to add you to my network on Linkedin” are just too bland for something as important as a networking connection on Linkedin.  Take your relationships seriously and take the time to personalize your invites to your connections.
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