Using social media to seed job prospects

The way in which we connect with what I like to refer to as the ‘key-stakeholders’ of our lives is changing. With a wide array of SNS to connect with these people, it’s important to choose the right platforms to connect in which to engage them. It is opening up new communication channels which can serve your purpose, or be your biggest hindrance to making your next career move.

In the last 12 months I have become highly conscious of what I publish and what people will find out about me online. Hanging out with my friends at Uni, we started to Google our names to see what photos came up. I do this on a monthly basis to ensure I’m comfortable with my level of exposure and content and have taken measures to increase what information I want perspective employers or my current employer to know about me.

For example, if I want to see the images that come up against my name, in the first page, I can find a wide variety of my picture and others that I have taken appear, I have highlighted them in a red box.


Hopefully, you can deduce from the images that I am passionate about photography, fashion, shoes, nature and digital media. With Facebook being a primary source of information for recruiters on a personal level, I have created a public ‘business page’ as opposed to my personal site which has the highest privacy settings. My Facebook business page portrays the image that I want employers to notice.

Before Facebook, it was very easy to create two identities, one for your personal circle of friends, a second that you showed at work. This has become much harder to do with the prevalence of SNS’s and the difficulty in having a private life. So is this leading people to lying on their Facebook pages in order to create the image or identity that they believe employers would favour? And if they aren’t being truthful, how then can recruiters use Facebook as a way of accurately determining the validity of hiring one person over the next?

According to Liu, 2007 cited in Smith, Kidder 2010, there are two types of identity profiles:

* Differentiation – you are unique and different from others

* Self-enhancing – you are popular, lots of friends, mainstream and similar to others.

If I apply this theory to my own personal SNS strategy, you can see that it can be a very strong tool for landing the job or employer you want. For example, the next company I may like to work in is Lorna Jane, I am consciously building connections with the brand to put me ahead of other candidates in the future as I will appear to them to be the most natural fit for their business.

* I follow them on all of their available sites.

* I post images and tell short stories about my own health and well-being challenges and tag them at the end. I visit stores and ‘check-in’ on Facebook.

* I comment on their blog posts and mention them in mine with links to their page.

* I attend events and take photos and video which I post and donate for them to repost.

* I have connected with employees on LinkedIn and keep in regular contact.

* I use their product in promotions within my current role at Blackmores

These identity profiles fall out of Social Identity theory, something I came across when reading an article exploring the use of Facebook as a recruitment tool. To have knowledge of this trend can be very powerful both internally and externally. Zeidner, 2007, cited in Smith, Kidder 2010 states that ‘…15% of human resource managers surveyed currently use social networking sites to check candidates’ backgrounds and of those that currently do not, 40% indicated they are likely or very likely to do so within the next year.’ It is now six years on and you can be sure that the majority of managers looking to recruit are searching your SNS profile.

When posting content we’re all trying to present an image, the best possible version of us that exists, there is nothing new about the concept of self-promotion, we just have new and more complex channels in which to do it. In an article by Smith and Kidder, 2010, they talk about Social Identity Theory in context with Facebook. “Social Identity Theory is the study of how identities are shaped”, (Ashforth, Harrison, & Corley, 2008, cited in Smith, Kidder 2010, p. 493). Smith and Kidder, 2010, explain how Facebook is a new vehicle which individuals can use to build their identity. Other sites that I use to build my profile include Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.

By creating obvious links between me and a preferred brand, it will make it easier when a job becomes available to be considered for hire. I am trying to fit into their group and be seen as being like minded and sharing the same values, which is a form of the self-enhancing profile. This aligns nicely with the another theory, Leader-Member exchange, where being part of the in-group is both rewarding personally and can have a positive impact on career progression. I’ll share my views on this next week.

The danger for employers is that the information could be false and produced to create the illusion of brand alignment, at the end it will come down to a face to face interview and peer interviews to understand cultural fit and reliable references. By all means use social media as a recruitment tool but employers, almost everyone has a drunk photo, and employees, always have social media policy front of mind.

Source: Alltop, 2012


Smith, W, Kidder, D 2010, ‘You’ve been tagged! (Then again, maybe not): Employers and Facebook’, Business Horizons, vol. 53, pp. 491-499.

Alltop, 2012, “Recruiting technology: A social history”, last updated May 13th, 2012 at 11:18 AM, accessed 30 October 2013,


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