Social Media: Friend or Foe?

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts in recent weeks detailing the downsides to social media in recruitment. Candidates falling foul of employer contracts by posting derogatory comments on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, or job seekers appearing cautious of LinkedIn in case an existing manager thinks they are looking elsewhere.  So what are the positive aspects, and what are the best platforms for those looking to expand their network, or perhaps find a new position?

The candidates we deal with will often remain with us on a series of contract positions over a period of months or years. And whilst we place these job seekers, the importance of social media for increasing an individual’s network of contacts should not be underestimated.  LinkedIn, in particular is a brilliant tool, and with over 100 million users globally, the ability to quickly make and maintain relationships is perfect for a professional throughout their whole career.

If you are on LinkedIn, make sure you have optimised your profile – use the available fields to add all your skills and experiences so if a potential hiring manager or recruiter finds your profile they will have your online CV instantly.  It’s also advisable to think about the key words that a recruiter might use to search on LinkedIn and add these to your summary. For example, if you are an interim head of compliance put this in but also add other keywords such as ‘compliance professional’ , ‘experience in investment banking’ or similar.

Secondly, and even more important for contractors, connect with past and present colleagues and clients. By adding more people to your network you will not only be more visible when recruiters are searching for you, but you will begin to build up a strong network of liked minded professionals who you might want to contact in the future  for potential job opportunities.  Finally, when using LinkedIn use the recommendations option to ask past employers to give you a reference. This will allow potential hirers to see what it is like to work with you, and can sometimes provide more details than a straightforward HR reference you may obtain which will purely detail the dates of employment.

Aside from LinkedIn, Twitter is also a great platform to connect with like minded professionals, potential employers and recruiters. Organisations and recruitment consultancies are increasingly looking to Twitter to advertise the positions they are working on, and often these jobs will appear on Twitter quicker than they would elsewhere. It is perhaps wise to have a look at the recruiters you are working with and companies you are interested in, and start following their tweets to both interact with them, but also see opportunities. 

The use of social media by hirers and candidates is certainly here to stay -so embrace it! Whilst you hear horror stories of job seekers ruining their career by posting comments that mention their employer in a bad light, those that are wise enough to use social media in the correct way can certainly improve their employment chances in a relatively short space of time.

Robert McLeod

Robert is Financial Services Director at Venn Group, the specialist provider of temporary and interim staff across the UK. Robert has over twelve years’ experience of managing recruitment teams within the financial services sector