Social media sites such as LinkedIn play an important role in the job-hunting process but candidates aren't tailoring their online profiles when applying for jobs.
According to research by specialist recruiter Randstad Business Support, more than three-fifths of workers are mindful of the need to adapt their CV before applying for specific roles but fewer than 20% update their LinkedIn profile, meaning there may be discrepancies between the two.
A third of job hopefuls don’t refresh their CV or their LinkedIn profile, hoping the generic information included within will be enough to land them a new role.
Social media rules.
Ruth Jacobs, managing director of Randstad Business Support, comments: 'Social media – and LinkedIn in particular – has made looking for new opportunities easier for those seeking a fresh challenge, but it needs to be harnessed in the right way to be of maximum use to the individual.
'You wouldn’t send a group email attaching your CV to multiple different job applications, so similarly you need to be careful that your LinkedIn profile isn’t accidentally doing the same thing.
'With jobs in retail, office support, marketing and sales there are likely to be transferable skills between roles, but it is still vitally important to show you are interested in a particular role by demonstrating the specific traits that make you suitable for it.
'To this end, it is actually more advisable to adopt a ‘less is more’ approach to your LinkedIn page and populate it with pretty basic information rather than risk over-sharing and counter-intuitively ruling yourself out of a desired role.'
Social media skeletons.
While three-quarters of employees say they are comfortable with future employers viewing their social media profiles, 15% admit is a ‘little worry’ and a further 5% concede it is a big concern.
Almost half (45%) are confident future employers would still hire them if privacy settings were abolished and their full online interactions were disclosed, while just 9% thought this would preclude them from a new role.
Interestingly, 46% weren’t sure if their social media presence would preclude them from future opportunities, meaning employees may not be entirely confident on what content is appropriate or what prospective employers might be judging them on.
Putting the shoe on the other foot, 26% admitted conducting cursory Google searches of potential staff members and 14% would look them up on LinkedIn.
A comprehensive 88% of those polled said they wouldn’t be deterred by a candidate having no social media presence, while just 4% cited is a deal breaker.
Of those that would be dissuaded, three-fifths admitted they were worried the individual would have something to hide and more than a quarter said it showed signs of being out of touch.
Ruth Jacobs added: “People seem generally comfortable about current and potential employers being able to see their online activity and, at present, businesses don’t seem unduly concerned whether workers use social media or not, but for some professions it can be an important tool.
For individuals in marketing for example, shrewd use of social platforms shows employees are up to speed with not only how to ‘market’ themselves but with the latest technology that could prove beneficial in their day jobs.
'It is an individual choice whether or not to be on social media, but given its use is so prevalent nowadays, it may raise suspicions in some quarters if you have no presence it all.
'However, if it is not directly relevant to your profession, then employers are ultimately unlikely to hold it against you if you’re not a keen Facebooker or a diligent Tweeter.
'At the other extreme, oversharing some information such as incriminating pictures or inappropriate content may count against you.'
Keeping it fresh.
Whatever profession you work in, whether it be retail, sales or a general office role, it can be important to ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, is relevant for the role you’re applying for and doesn’t contradict your CV.
It also pays to ensure that you try and steer clear of the hackneyed clichés that plague so many job applications.
A more detailed profile leaves you potentially exposed to software that some employers use to ‘sweep’ applications for overused words or phrases.
LinkedIn itself recently published a list of the most commonly-used terms on the site which included ‘motivated’, ‘creative’, ‘enthusiastic’, and ‘passionate’.
Ruth Jacobs concludes: 'Whether you use a traditional CV or apply for roles online using your LinkedIn profile, some of the same rules still apply.
'Not only do you want to make sure you’ve conducted sufficient research on the organisation and role by demonstrating your specific experience and suitability, but you want to distance yourself from the pack by steering clear of using the same tired buzzwords and phrases.
'It can be tempting to opt for the same traditional expressions, but a bit of extra thought can help your application stand out from the competition.'