Social media has evolved into a powerful platform for businesses, professionals, entrepreneurs, and organizations that seek recognition, acceptance, and identification. As a result, social media is more than often instrumental in a job search. Recruiters and hiring managers use various social media platforms throughout the hiring process to identify candidates and gain valuable insights on job seekers and potential candidates.
Your social media presence is an extension of your personal brand and network, and building a reputable and professional social media presence can provide the right exposure and opportunities. Your online presence not only helps law firms determine which candidates exemplify firm values but also provides insight into how you interact with others and the world around you. In fact, around 57% of employers are less likely to call a candidate back for an interview if they have no social media presence. Approximately 70% of employers said they check candidates’ social media profiles for red flags.
Data suggests that the reasons that employers who decided not to hire a candidate after conducting a social media search include:
- 39% Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate content
- 30% Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee
- 27% Candidate demonstrated poor communication skills
To ensure your social media presence doesn’t harm your job search, check your profile for these red flags that employers watch out for:
- Negative posts about previous employers, coworkers, peers, or professors: This includes posting anything about work that could be seen as confidential. Employers (especially law firms) will avoid hiring an individual who could cause security or confidentiality issues in the future.
- Content that demonstrates poor writing and/or communication skills: Good lawyers are good writers. Typos and grammatical errors may demonstrate poor communication skills or writing ability.
- Frequently posting polarizing content: It's okay to voice your opinions on the Internet, but if you are regularly making incendiary comments, potential employers may get the impression that you are unable to have neutral and collegial conversations with colleagues.
- Discriminatory posts of any sort
Tips for leaving a positive impression
- Delete questionable posts: If you aren't quite sure whether a post could be deemed inappropriate or not, delete it to be safe.
- Choose a polished, professional photo as your profile picture: This applies to any social media account. Try to use the same photo for all professional profiles—consistency can help create a more memorable professional image.
- Untag yourself from photos you don't want potential employers to see: You can't control what others post, but you can avoid being held accountable for others’ posting decisions by removing that link between the photo and your profile.
- Keep your profile up to date: This is especially important on Linkedin. Keeping your work history and description updated helps employers get to know you, not the 2011 version of yourself.
- Update your privacy settings: Check your privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to ensure that any information you wish to keep private is hidden from public view.
Also, while big names like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram dominate the social media market, they also play a massive role in developing your career. Therefore it is essential to know just how impactful and different each platform is.
While Facebook is primarily a personal networking platform, employers may look at it as a chance to get to know you on a personal level. Look at your profile with fresh eyes, from the perspective of an employer. What do your posts say about you? Ensure your ‘About Me’ section is something you would be comfortable with a prospective employer seeing. If possible, try aligning it with how you describe yourself in your cover letter or resume. Facebook provides an opportunity to showcase your attention to detail and communication skills by proofreading all aspects of your profile. If you’re an active Facebook user, you may want to join and participate in relevant groups related to the legal industry, which will keep you updated on industry trends and news and show your passion for the legal profession. Lastly, do not forget to review your previous posts. When reviewing old posts, check to make sure the photos you've posted or are tagged in are appropriate and that any descriptions are free of offensive language. If there is content you would not want a prospective employer to see, change your privacy settings.
Linkedin is a professional networking platform offering opportunities to connect and communicate with members of the legal community. Therefore, it is crucial to create a compelling summary and clean up your job experience. Your summary should be the focal point of your entire profile, and must be thoughtfully written. Avoid generic language and include quantifiable evidence of skills and abilities when possible. Remember to revise and refresh this section regularly. When it comes to job experience, don't just copy and paste your resume in the job experience section. Try to paint a revealing portrait of the skills and talents you possess. Also, try to engage with colleagues by liking and congratulating them on new jobs, anniversaries, and other career milestones. Join and engage with legal professionals groups as active involvement in groups helps grow exposure and creates connections with others in your industry.
Twitter is both a news and social networking site. Many industry leaders and law firms have accounts where they regularly post updates, news, and more. Twitter can help you keep up with industry trends while giving employers a glimpse into what you’re passionate about. When it comes to maximizing your Twitter account, the presence of wit, creativity, and cleverness attract more traction. Engage with legal experts and leaders by following them, interacting with their posts, sharing legal news, using related hashtags (i.e., #LawTwitter), and connecting with members of the legal community.
Similar to Facebook, Instagram is primarily a personal social media platform. While Instagram can reflect personal qualities to potential employers, it can also raise significant red flags. Luckily, Instagram allows you to decide whether your profile can be seen by all or only those approved by you. Recruiters will look at your profile to determine how you represent yourself, so be mindful of what you post. Lastly, remember to change your privacy settings. You can easily switch your profile to a private setting requiring your permission before someone can access your profile.
As social media continues to evolve and become a more active part of our lives, it is crucial to understand what your profiles communicate to prospective employers. While it may be tempting to delete or hide social media accounts, being intentional about the way you represent yourself can offer opportunities and be a platform for building your professional brand and network.