The CV, or résumé, has long been the standard tool used to apply for jobs and to summarise a potential employee’s career. Serious jobseekers spend hours and often a lot of money on professional advice, to perfect their CV. But in an ever-increasingly digital world, where so much personal information is stored online, should people be concentrating more on their Internet and social media profiles? DigitalTimes.ie spoke to some industry experts about the role your online footprint plays in finding that job – and what you can do to improve it.
There are many ways to promote yourself online these days from hosting a website or blog, to posting on discussion boards and there’s the almost countless social networks proliferating the web including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbler, Quora and of course, the professional network LinkedIn.
Most jobseekers today have a LinkedIn profile, some jobs are advertised directly on the social network and it has become a vital tool for recruiters looking for talent, but according to Edward Conmy of recruitment firm Alternatives Digital it is not being used to its full potential. “A lot of people are on LinkedIn but they may not be active users or they are simply not engaging with it too often,” he says. “LinkedIn is now the first tool employers go to and the most important platform to get right. Recruiters will look out for active LinkedIn behaviour, so status updates, recent recommendations and adding new connections are all important,” he added.
Darragh Doyle, community manager at WorldIrish.com, says that even before LinkedIn the first step everyone should take is to Google themselves to see if they’re happy with the results or if there’s something they’d rather an employer didn’t see. “Just like you’ll put on a good suit for your interview, put your best side out for the Google search,” he says.
Doyle also recommends that rather than signing up to every social network, just to appear on searches, it’s important to keep at least one current, frequently-updated profile.
Of course the extent to which an online profile will sway an employment decision can depend greatly on the industry. Gareth O’Connor, formerly of RTÉ, and now with new media news agency Storful, says social media profiles are vital in most communication sectors. “Media and PR positions require applicants to be proficient in social media. Increasingly, other work sectors are seeing the value of a highly-connected and social workforce. Journalism, in particular, is moving towards a very open, social model.”
Social media that works
O’Connor admits that it was his work in social media that spoke for itself when it came to his appointment in Storyful. “I’ve been using Twitter to showcase my work for three years now”, he says. “My work in the area of news curation attracted the attention of Storyful.”
Doyle also says that all his recent jobs have come about because of his social media use and says these skills are becoming increasingly important in many different areas. “You need to be familiar with the web for anything where you’re dealing with the public online”, he says, “from restaurant owners seeing reviews on Yelp, or on Trip Advisor – to customer service, to musicians, to theatre people, to venue owners, to civil servants or to Government ministers”.
Edward Conmy recounted an innovative approach one candidate took to nail down his dream job. “He bought the name of a hiring manager he was looking to impress as a key word term on Google Adwords,” says Conmy. “So whenever the hiring manager Googled himself (we all do it) an advert ran in the top right of the page saying something like ‘Hire me John Doe…’”.
How to boost your online profile
This is all evidence that social job-seeking works, and all three experts agree that the vast majority of employers are now vetting candidates through Internet searches. So what can you do to improve your online profile?
The general advice is to have social media profiles on platforms like LinkedIn, Tumblr and Twitter and make sure they match up to your current CV. Doyle urges people to be careful about what they post online. “Google Before You Post is the new Think Before You Speak. Being aware of all the facts before you interact is always good.”
Conmy also advises people not to jump in too quickly, to follow industry leaders on Twitter, create lists and join groups first. “Read, research, then read again. ‘If I am cutting a log I spend most of the time sharpening the axe’ is a good maxim to apply”, he says.
Of course the best way to find a job is through someone you know and social media gives candidates unprecedented access to all sorts of contacts. “People need to connect more and improve their networks,” says O’Connor. “Reach out to potential employers and showcase your abilities.”
Doyle says jobseekers often forget to tell contacts that they’re looking for work which is vital because you never know who could know somebody, particularly in a small country like Ireland.
End of the CV?
A current job advertisement albeit for a social media role with restaurant Yo Sushi reads: ‘We will accept CVs, but your blog/Twitter profile/YouTube account and other expressions of your personality across the internet are just as important to us.’
So is this the beginning of the end for the traditional CV?
Gareth O’Connor says that as the value of public data becomes more important, it’s inevitable that the old model of the CV will be replaced by some sort of online profile. Doyle doesn’t see the CV disappearing, just yet, and sees your online record being demanded as “proof of your experiences and abilities”.
“It’s more about a combination of LinkedIn, a Tumblr/ EP blog, a Twitter account … examples of work and then a CV,” says Conmy.
So the advice is not to shred your old CV just yet, but be aware of your personal information on the web and shape it in such a way as to promote yourself and your skills.
That reminds me, I think I need to go delete a few pictures.