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Q&A: Putting Social Media to Work for Your Career

Have you ever been asked whether your social media profiles are resume-ready? Polishing your social media presence is a process that mostly involves common sense. For instance, the general public is aware that posting photos from the latest wild party is a risky choice. The last thing you want hiring managers to come across when Googling you—and they will Google you—is a rage-fuelled, work-related rant.
As DECSA’s Communications Specialists will be quick to tell you, though, preparing your online presence for professional scrutiny is more complicated than removing offensive content. Today, our Community Relations team will be presenting a FAQ about shaping and maintaining a professional but personalized online presence.

Do hiring managers really care about what I do with my social media profiles?

As it turns out, they care an awful lot. One study found that 93% of hiring managers do some degree of online digging before contacting interviewees. If you don’t pass this initial screening, you won’t even be considered for an interview—and as you can imagine, that will take a serious toll on your career. In this competitive job market, you have to remember that your resume might be one of dozens or even hundreds, so you have to make an exceptional first impression before you’ve even met your interviewer(s).

Where should I begin?

The first step is probably the lengthiest. Before you start sending out resumes, you should conduct a purge of all your social media profiles. Flag any potentially offensive or unprofessional content that is open to the public. Adjust your privacy settings to manage what people can see. It’s fine to be uncensored in private spaces, but social media is rarely as private as we’d like it to be.
Remember to Google yourself to find out what has been posted about you. While you can’t control every word that’s linked with your name, being aware of what’s out there is essential. Knowledge is power.

What kind of content could get me in trouble?

Well, there’s the obvious stuff: take down or hide any unflattering photos; employers won’t be charmed by that keg you’re posing next to. Get rid of that profanity-filled rant you published in the heat of the moment. While no one expects you to be upbeat and positive all the time, it’s a good idea to keep the outrage to a reasonable level.
We should warn you that there are innocent-seeming posts that can turn employers off very quickly. Remember that time you tweeted about how talented you are at procrastinating? How about that Facebook post describing your less-than-stellar organizational skills? Everyone is human and therefore imperfect. Hiring managers ought to keep that in mind, but broadcasting your flaws for the world to see could jeopardize your career, especially if your field depends upon organizational skills and a healthy respect for deadlines.
Even if your online presence isn’t objectively offensive, your views and behaviour may not align with company culture, and that could become a stumbling block down the line.

Would it be safer to simply delete or lock down all my accounts?

Definitely not! While we don’t advise disregarding your right to privacy—we’re ardent proponents of work-life balance—we recommend that you keep at least some of your online presence public. It’s perfectly acceptable and even wise to designate one or more of your accounts as a safe space to detach from professional matters, but it’s beneficial to dedicate an account or two to showcasing yourself as a valuable member of your industry.
Share informative material that’s relevant to your chosen field, follow influential industry leaders, and take advantage of online networking opportunities.

So you’re saying I can’t be myself online?

Actually, your personal brand will thrive if you present yourself as authentically as possible. Hiring managers are interested in more than your academic credentials and work experience. They want to select someone who will be a suitable fit for their organization, so letting your personality shine through is a significant career asset. There’s a difference between being attractive to the professional world and stifling your identity. You can have the most impressive resume around, but if you don’t come across as a cooperative, positive contributor to an organization’s culture, chances are you won’t be getting that call-back.

All of this seems really complicated. Is social media more of a threat to my career than a benefit?

Don’t be discouraged: it’s simpler than it sounds, and if you think strategically about what you post, the maintenance will seem like a breeze. In the end, you have to put social media to work. Approach your online presence like the marketing tool that it is. Establish an online portfolio, keep your LinkedIn account up-to-date, and feel free to share professional and personal accomplishments. Use social media as a space for putting yourself out there. If you make the necessary effort, you’ll certainly reap the reward. Take it from us: social media is your friend. Treat it like one.


I did the interview…Now what?


Many people think that once the interview is over and done with, it’s time to sit back, relax, and play the waiting game. I know that I have have made that mistake before. I did really well on a phone interview and was brought in for a second interview. I was convinced that the job was mine and even began apartment hunting in that area. You can imagine how crushed I was when I found out that I hadn’t been selected for the position. When I look back, I realise that there were some things I could have done after the interview to try and push the odds in my favour. Here are some suggestions on ways you can improve your chances of landing the job:

Before you leave the interview, make sure you ask when they expect to call the person they have selected for the job, if it wasn’t previously discussed. DO follow up with the hiring manager after the interview. This shows that you are still interested in the position itself. Even better, if the interviewers are having trouble choosing between you and someone else, your continued interest could tip the balance. That being said, DON’T make a nuisance out of yourself by continuously pestering the hiring manager about when they are going to make a decision.  Also, if they ask you to not make any follow-up contact, respect their decision.

DO contact the hiring manager in the way they asked. If they asked you to contact them using email, do so. If they didn’t say how to contact them, stick with the system you had before the interview. DON’T contact them using a home phone number, unless specifically told to. Personal life and professional life should be kept separate.

DO send a personalized thank you note to each person on the interviewing panel within twenty four hours after the interview. You want the employer to know that you appreciate their time. Handwritten, typed and emailed notes are acceptable. DON’T go overboard by sending flowers or gifts. The interviewer should feel appreciated, not bribed.

It is important that you DO keep job searching in the meantime, even if you are convinced the job is yours. You might have aced the interview, but someone else could have too. DON’T put all of your eggs into one basket . It’s always good to keep your options open while waiting for a response. Who knows, you might find an even better position!

DO accept rejection graciously. The last thing you want to do is burn bridges with a potential employer. You never know when another position might become available in the organization that you may be a good fit for. DON’T take it personally. It doesn’t mean that you “failed”, it just means there is another job just waiting for you.

For those of you looking for a place to job search, DECSA has a Community Resource Centre, which has computers, printers, fax machines, telephones, coffee and free wi-fi. We are open to the public Monday to Friday from 8-4, and are located at 11515-71 Street. For more information, please call 780-474-2500.

Dressing to Impress (an Interviewer)

Kelley is heading out to two job interviews this week. She’s spent a lot of time preparing for both of them, and she’s feeling pretty confident. She has just one last step: deciding what to wear.

Her first  interview is for a cashier job at a clothing store. She wants to wear clothing from the store to the interview to show that she already knows and loves its products. Here’s her outfit. What advice would you give her? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Outfit #1

Outfit #1: Cashier Job

Kelley also has an interview for a job as an office assistant in a doctor’s office. She’s thinking of wearing this outfit. What advice would you give her? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Outfit #2

Outfit #2: Office Assistant Job

Click here and here to learn more about dressing for an interview.

Preparing for an Interview

Going to a job interview can be nerve-wracking for a couple reasons. Interviews don’t come around very often, so most of us don’t have much practice with them. Also, interviews are full of unknowns. We can’t know exactly what they’re going to be like until we’re in them. Fortunately, we don’t have to be afraid because we can do several things before an interview to help us prepare!

A good interview starts a week or two before you sit down in front of the interviewer. Here are five things you can do to make sure you are ready for your interview.

  1. Make sure you remember the job description. You want the interviewer to see that you can do the job. You have to remember details about the job so that you can show the interviewer why you can do the job well.
  2. Research the company. By showing that you know about the company, you prove to an interviewer that you are interested in this job, not just any job. Learn these three things:
    – What are their mission, vision, and values?
    – What products and services do they provide?
    – Have they been in the news recently? What for?
  3. Practice interview questions! Most interviewers ask similar questions. If you can answer quickly and thoroughly, you will sound confident, organized and knowledgable. Lots of sites give examples of interview questions. Click here or here or here for common interview questions. If you practice the interview with a friend or family member, that person can help you improve your answers. If you don’t have time for a mock interview, try practicing out loud in front of a mirror. Doing this will help you remember what to say and how to say it.
  4. Think of questions to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers will give you a chance to ask questions at the end of an interview. Asking questions shows that you’ve been thinking critically about the job. Try to think of anything you would like to know about the company or your job. Ask yourself, “How will I fit into this job?” “How will this job fit into my life?” “Was there anything in the job description that I want to know more about?” By asking yourself what you’d like to know, you’ll find good questions to ask the interviewer.
  5. Imagine Success! Deliberately imagining yourself doing well during the interview actually helps you do well.

If you prepare for an interview, you will feel calmer and more confident during it. Click here for more information about decreasing interview anxiety.

Whether or not you get the job, you can leave your interview knowing that you did well. You prepared as much as you could, and performed as well as you knew how. Every interview helps you learn more about being interviewed and gives you the chance to practice.

If you need a place to do research for a job interview, visit DECSA’s Community Resource Center. We provide free access to computers, Wi-Fi, fax machines, photocopiers, newspapers, reference materials, and a job board.

Good luck, and stay tuned for Tuesday’s blog post.