Every client we work with has a story to tell and something unique to offer potential employers. That story was once told by the traditional resume, but we know that today a resume holds less weight than our client’s online reputation. However, jobseekers now have the opportunity to use other means to highlight not only skills and experience but also personality, values and passions.
A 2017 LinkedIn Pulse article, “6 seconds is the Average Time Spent Reading a Resume,” highlights that employers are spending less time reading a resume than expected. A great deal more time is being spent determining if a client’s social media persona aligns with company values. In a 2018 Career Builder study, 70% of the 2,300 recruiters surveyed had made a hiring decision based on a candidate’s digital footprint. The study highlights that, while some candidates were rejected based solely on inappropriate online behaviour, many were also hired because of the skills and attributes they demonstrated through various platforms including communication skills, technical skills, leadership skills, creativity and honesty.
As our role transitions from career development practitioners (CDPs) to digital coaches, it is increasingly important for us to teach our clients more about the art and importance of self-promotion and personal branding. Coaching them on how to create a positive digital footprint ensures that they are not excluded from academic, scholarship and employment opportunities based on their online image. The fact that recruiters are checking our clients out online to see who they are, how they behave, what is important to them and what content they are engaging with instills CDPs with a responsibility to educate and prepare clients for such scrutiny. If this area is somewhat unfamiliar to you, you are not alone.
“In a 2018 Career Builder study, 70% of the 2,300 recruiters surveyed had made a hiring decision based on a candidate’s digital footprint.”
The following tips provide a starting point for helping clients navigate the social media highway.
- Create and maintain a professional social media account for yourself: Engage with other like-minded professionals and share resources. If you are a co-operative education teacher or a job developer, using a platform such as LinkedIn is a great way to maintain communication and relationships with your employers. If you are an employment or guidance counsellor, this platform also allows you to engage with colleagues sharing resources and best practices.
- Develop a greater awareness of and comfort level with social media: Pay attention to relevant posts that you can share with clients regarding developing a positive digital footprint, job search and career planning. Highlighting local success stories can give them a framework to build upon.
- Have a candid conversation with your clients about their current digital footprint: Encourage them to use resources such as Rep’nUp and Scrubber to conduct their own social media audit. This will give them an idea of how others may view them and help them decide if changes are required. We, as coaches, can inform clients that their online image is often a deciding factor when recruiters are making decisions about job applicants, scholarship applicants and post-secondary enrollment.
- Assist clients in finding the best medium to tell their story: Every client we work with has a story to tell. Whether it is through pictures, words, videos or recordings, social media can help bring that story to life. It allows them to highlight their technical skills, portray their individuality and develop a unique personal brand. Our role is help them determine what they are comfortable sharing online and which platform will best highlight their talents, while also teaching them about the importance of privacy and discretion.
- Encourage clients to dedicate at least one social media platform for career purposes: It is important for employers to be able to find our clients when conducting a Google search. With many social media sites to choose from, it may be helpful for your clients to view the websites of their target employers to see which platforms are more often used in a given industry. For example, the service industry may have more engagement on Instagram, small-to-medium size employers may be found more often on Facebook and Twitter, and larger corporations may have a strong presence on LinkedIn. Determining what platforms their target audience is on can help clients develop a professional presence on the most relevant site.
- Educate clients about the value of developing an online network: Historically, we have found jobs through people we know. LinkedIn is an information-rich platform based on that very premise. The main difference is that social media makes the world much smaller, allowing clients access to individuals they never would have reached with a paper resume. Creating a strong profile and engaging on the platform will position clients to access the networking opportunities available. Shannon Lee and Kristan J. Wheaton outline many practical suggestions in their article, “The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Professional LinkedIn Profile.”
- Help your clients identify relevant positive role models, companies and groups to follow online: Following the social media feeds of companies they wish to work for will provide them with the opportunity to like, share and comment on posts. This will help them create an industry-specific digital footprint and keep up to date on what is happening within the company and their field of interest. In addition, they will be able to learn more about labour market information including employment requirements, salary details and geographic locations for the companies that are hiring.
Some of these suggestions may somewhat intimidating if you are not social-media savvy. However, technology is here to stay and we must remain current so the clients who depend on us can remain competitive. Clients are now being recommended to apply for jobs on indeed.com through their LinkedIn account. Our role is help them learn how to navigate technology, to utilize industry terminology and to be able to identify and promote their brand accordingly. Social media is just one more resource to add to our toolkit. While this is a relatively new role for us, our ability to help clients gain a better insight into how online behaviour can impact future opportunities allows them to remain competitive in this era of recruitment technology.