Use Social Media To Highlight Soft Skills

An article in the Wall Street Journal today outlines a dilemma employers are facing in today’s changed work environment: it’s tough to find new employees with the appropriate soft skills.

“Companies across the U.S. say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find applicants who can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem-solve and get along with co-workers.

While such skills have always appealed to employers, decades-long shifts in the economy have made them especially crucial now. Companies have automated or outsourced many routine tasks, and the jobs that remain often require workers to take on broader responsibilities that demand critical thinking, empathy or other abilities that computers can’t easily simulate.”

The article cites a Wall Street Journal survey of 900 executives, which found that 92% felt that soft sills are as important as or more important than technical skills.

The article also cites a survey from 2015 performed by LinkedIn, which attempted to identify which soft skills are most in demand, and therefore most likely to land candidates a job. The list of traits, in resumeorder, was:

  • Ability to communicate
  • Organization
  • Capacity for teamwork
  • Punctuality
  • Critical thinking
  • Social savvy
  • Creativity
  • Adaptability

We don’t think that people possessing these traits don’t exist; if companies can’t find them, we put the blame on the recruiting process as it now stands. From what we’ve seen, if 100 candidates apply for a job opening, the standard procedure is that those 100 resumes are uploaded into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and an algorithm identifies the 3 or 4 best candidates based on objective criteria programmed into the ATS before the search began. The initial resume-screening phase looks for technical skills and experience – it does not attempt to consider soft skills, and therefore isn’t optimized to find candidates who possess them.

We think the system is going to change, and young employees without a robust job history or deep technical skills could be the biggest beneficiaries. Here’s how.

A CareerBuilder survey earlier this your found that 60% of employers admit to using social media to vet candidates at some point during the recruitment process (we think the real number is higher). If a company is not interviewing/hiring candidates with strong soft skills, it’s probably because the resumes making it through the ATS to the interview stage have strong technical skills, but lack those soft skills.

Looking at candidates’ public social media can be a great way to identify candidates who do possess some of those soft skills, and the opposite. Ability to communicate clearly, attention to detail, social savvy and showing good judgment can all be evaluated for a candidate who is active online, and most candidates are.

This is good news for job seekers with strong soft skills. By sharpening your social media game, you can make yourself more hirable in an era where who you are online is likely to become an increasingly important consideration for hiring managers.

Some experts view social media as primarily a liability for job seekers, and caution candidates to keep the excessive partying, foul language and questionable commentary off of social media. That is a good idea, but we may be entering an era where clean, well thought out social media profiles can be an important asset.

Note to employers: If you’re looking for help making social media vetting a bigger part of your hiring process, ThirdPro can help. To find out how we can help your company, contact us today.

 

 

 

 

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New Stats On Employers Doing Social Media Screening

There are lots of statistics out there about whether and to what extent employers are using social media as a screening tool for potential new hires. We’ve written about some of them before. Based on what we’ve read, and our decades of experience in the workplace, we believe that most statistics are understated.

What is more likely being captured is the number of recruiters who admit that they’re doing it. Speaking for myself, I rarely do a meeting with a new business associate without Googling him. If one of the first search results is his Facebook or LinkedIn profile, I’ll look. That goes double for someone I’m interviewing.

CareerBuilder LogoNew data out of CareerBuilder’s annual Social Media Recruiting survey make a couple of things abundantly clear:

  • The number of recruiters who use social media as a vetting tool is rising rapidly. 60% confirm that they are doing it this year vs. 52% last year and 11% 10 years ago.
  • They aren’t just looking out of curiosity. 21% admit that they are looking for something that will disqualify a candidate, and 49% of those who do check have disqualified a candidate because of something they found.

According to the survey, one tactic that candidates have been employing – deleting social media accounts or using a pseudonym – might be doing more harm that good. 41% of respondents said that they are less likely to offer a candidate an interview if they can’t find them online, up from 35% last year. Candidates are much better off having, in our opinion, a professional LinkedIn profile and at least one clean, public social media profile. Either Facebook or Twitter works fine; Instagram is more problematic because the search function is more difficult to use.

The most frequently found negatives, in order:

  1. Inappropriate pictures, video or text posts
  2. Evidence of alcohol or drug use
  3. Hate speech related to race, religion or gender
  4. Negative comments about prior employer or coworkers
  5. Poor communication skills

The news isn’t all bad for job seekers. The most frequent positives, in order:

  1. Online information supported candidate’s job qualifications
  2. Online conduct was professional
  3. Personality appeared to be a good fit with company culture
  4. Candidate appeared to be well rounded
  5. Positive communication skills

A final note to successful hires: once you land the job, your public social media life can still be scrutinized. 41% of companies responding to the survey say they use social media to keep track of current employees, and 26% of them had fired or reprimanded employees for inappropriate online activity.

 

 

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Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

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Your Reputation – Who Are You Online?

Newsflash: who you are online (to someone else) depends at least in part the where you are online. This is especially true for corporate recruiters, who are increasingly using the internet and social media to take a closer look at potential employees before extending an offer or even before granting an interview. And the dark underbelly of this is that recruiters can glean facts or form opinions about you that include character and personal insights that would be taboo if they came at you in the form if interview questions.

Take a look at the following:

adult-social-media-use

A couple of things jump out at us. First:

  • U. S. adults aged 18 – 29 are more likely to be on Facebook (82%), Instagram (55%) and Twitter (32%) than on LinkedIn (22%)

If you are in this category, perhaps you have a blue-collar job, or are happily employed and have no intention of using LinkedIn to find your next job. But:

  • U. S. college graduates are more likely to be on Facebook (72%) than on LinkedIn (46%)

If you are ever going to be in the job market, we’d argue that a clean, professional LinkedIn profile is essential. LinkedIn profiles show up very well in search results, and they are the first place many employers will look for you online before or during the interview process.

A clean LinkedIn profile also provides a nice balance to whatever else you’re doing online. Unless your LinkedIn profile contains typos or errors, it’s almost impossible to put anything bad on there. Contrast that with whatever you’re posting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. While those posts may seem funny or interesting to your friends, much of that content is unlikely to impress employers, and some of it might be a downright turnoff.

Use your online identity to make a good impression with employers. You never know who is looking for you.

 

 

 

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What Employers Are Looking For Online

All right college students – and high school students – if you haven’t done so already, it is high time you thought about how your digital footprint might impact your job search when the time comes.

Of course you know some of the basics. Every Instagram pic you post shouldn’t be you holding a beer can or a bong. Actually, none of them should include a bong. Good grammar and spelling are far better than your posts looking like a sloppy mess. Cyberbullying, racist and homophobic comments are a no no, even in jest.

With the help of a recent Workopolis survey of employers, we though we’d look a little deeper at where employers are looking online to check you out, what they’re looking for and why. The survey polled over 300 Canadian employers, with 63% of them reporting that they look candidates up online and on social media at some point during the hiring process. Where are they looking?interview

  • LinkedIn 91%
  • Facebook 75%
  • Twitter 28%
  • Instagram 16%
  • Tumblr 3%

According to Workopolis, Twitter was the fastest growing network over last year’s results. Jobs seekers should be aware of that, as well as the fact that Instagram and Tumblr are on the list. We see all too often that young people act as though their Twitter and Instagram accounts are private, even when they aren’t.

In terms of what employers are looking for, the answer pretty simply boils down to the fact that they want to get a better idea of who the candidate really is, i.e. what are the risks or positive side effects of having this candidate join our team. To wit:

“We here at Workopolis once declined to interview an applicant whose Facebook profile picture was of him holding a beer high over his head wearing only a baseball cap and a sock. (Not on his foot.) The thing is, I don’t really care if you want to get a little crazy and pull a Blink 182 in your backyard with your friends on the weekend. That’s not really any of my business…I do care that you don’t have the common sense not to put a photograph of it online and make it your public profile picture – especially while applying for jobs. If you display such poor judgment representing yourself, how much will you show when representing my brand?”

According to the survey, 48% of hiring managers had seen something online that made their opinion of a candidate more negative, while 38% had seen something online that swayed them in a more positive direction. That means that there is a 26% greater chance that your online profile does more harm than good. The odds may seem to be against you.

Does that mean that you should stay offline entirely, or be completely anonymous online? Not at all. Employers in the survey offered that they see it as a red flag if they can’t find any trace of a candidate online. Is she hiding something?

Even if your online profile is a terrible mess, it isn’t impossible to clean it up. After all, in an article in this week’s U.S. News and World Report titled College Seniors: Do these 11 things to graduate with a job, 3 of the 11 relate to your online profiles and image. This is the new normal.

You can clean up your act and put a more positive spin on things. If you need help, we can get you where you need to be.

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

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Is Your Social Media Ready for a Job Search?

If you’re thinking about the job market, or in it, maybe your social media identity needs to move up your list of prep priorities. There’s a new red flag you should know about.

find-me-onlineIf you’re an adult, you probably have some kind of online identity. Overall, according to Pew Research, 58% of adults are on Facebook. Of adults who have access to the internet, 71% use Facebook. If you’re in the job market, you probably have internet access, so there’s a good chance you participate in Facebook or some other social network.

If you’re a teen, there’s an even better chance that you have an online presence. 92% of teens, also according to Pew Internet, access the internet at least daily. Social media is a big part of what they do online.

There was a time when statements like, “I don’t use the internet”, or “I’m not on Facebook” were viewed by some as a badge of honor. Serious people could find better uses of their time than messing around on the internet. If you’re one of the unconnected with no online presence, the time has come when it could really hurt your chances in the job market.

According to a new survey by CareerBuilder.com, 35% of employers are less likely to interview (let alone hire) a candidate that they can’t find online. (h/t to our friends at Social Assurity for pointing out the survey)

We can’t know exactly what employers are thinking here, but their reticence to hire a digital nobody could relate to the following:

  • Since most people are active online, and they can’t find you, maybe you have something to hide
  • Since most people are active online, and you aren’t, your computer and digital communication skills are probably not up to speed
  • An online check could be an integral part of the candidate screening process. If they can’t find you, they are at a disadvantage vis-a-vis their normal process

 

It seems that everyone who has an online presence has a view about just how public or private it is – from the results someone gets when they Google your name to their social media profiles and activity.

Not surprisingly, employers also have a view about how public it is, and what they are willing to do with it in the course of finding good candidates and weeding out weak ones. According to the survey, 56% of employers want to see if the candidate has a professional online persona.

We’ve written before about the good things employers look for in an online profile. We’ve also written about what kind of things you shouldn’t be posting online, when thinking about your future in the job market.

If you’re a digital nobody, it’s time to stake out an online presence. Especially if you are about to enter the job market for the first time without job experience and a work history, there’s a good chance that who you look like online will play a part in whether you get hired.

You don’t have to go all out here: Start with a clean, professional LinkedIn profile, and perhaps a bare minimum Facebook. You can even set the Facebook account to private, but check the privacy settings and make sure that your account is searchable by the email address, especially if you have a common name.

facebook-search

If you don’t want to be active online, you can stop right there, but it’s time to recognize that being a nobody online has a real downside.

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

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What Employers Want To See on Your Social Media

According to a new article at Workopolis, a Canadian online job site, 93% of employers admit to looking up candidates’ social media profiles during the interview process.

Notice that they don’t specify which employees, i.e. not just senior executives. Any employee, including kids right out of high school or college, can expect their public social media profiles and online activities to be scrutinized. The Workopolis article focuses on the positives – what qualities gleaned from social media would make a candidate look like a good hire. The top 3 things according to the article and a related survey:

interviewCultural Fit – 51% of companies want to see whether the “real you” is a good fit with their corporate values and culture.

Qualifications – Are the skills and accomplishments noted in your resume, cover letter and application consistent with how you look online, or are their contradictions? 45% of employers are checking. It is easy to say that you’re a team player, but if your Facebook wall is a long string of arguments, you might be shooting yourself in the foot.

Creativity – 44% of hiring managers are looking for signs of creativity. You don’t have to be an artist online, but learning to creatively use social media could mean that you’ll adapt well to a diverse set of responsibilities in a company environment.

After having hired our share of people, and viewing countless teen and young adult social media profiles, there are a couple more things that come to our minds:

Attention to detail – If the job you’re applying for involves detailed work, or communication with clients or the public, your social media will be a positive reflection on you if your posts are thoughtful, coherent and relatively free of typos and spelling errors.

Discretion – Most companies are looking for employees who put their company’s interest pretty high on their list of concerns. If your social media shows you talking badly about others, or even past employers, you might not look like the good foot soldier that company is looking for.

Philanthropy/generosity – Putting others ahead of yourself can set you apart. All other things being equal, most hiring managers would prefer to hire a “good” person.

According to the Workopolis article, the most common sites searched by employers are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. No doubt that is true for now. Candidates should assume that as employers and HR departments get more social media savvy, those searches will extend to Instagram and Tumblr, and eventually to Reddit, Ask.fm and beyond. If you look like an angel on Facebook, but someone else entirely on Instagram, keep in mind that they are all fair game if they’re public.

We’ve focused here on the positives, but there are many negative things that you shouldn’t post online. The bottom line is that if you’re putting yourself out there publicly, it should be a public image that a company would be proud to embrace in a team member.

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

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Social Media Can Help or Hurt Job Searches

If there’s a chance you’re going to be in the job market any time in the coming years, you’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware that things that you post online might have an impact on your job prospects. Added to that, your current employment may be impacted by your online activity. Statistics vary, but generally speaking about 90% of hiring organizations use the internet to find candidates, and 75% of hiring managers are quick to check out candidates’ online profiles. Existing employers can check too.

job-searchA new survey by Jobvite highlights current statistics on how companies are using social media to recruit and vet candidates, and how job seekers are either using social to their advantage or being hampered by it. The survey polled 2,135 Americans aged 18+ who were active in the labor force or looking to be. A look at the highlights:

21% of respondent found their “favorite or best” job through social media – This number is likely to move higher over time, and it is not only LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter were listed as well. Incidentally, 59% of employers list candidate referrals via social media as being of high quality.

Social job seekers use the media to vet company cultures – Candidates aren’t just looking at a company website – LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Twitter were all listed by college grads as good sources.

Candidates use different networks in different ways:

Facebook and Twitter – used to refer friends, seek referrals and also to seek current employees’ perspectives

LinkedIn – referrals, perspective on an employer and connecting with an existing employee

Job seekers’ behavior is changing as candidates recognize that recruiters are looking at social media. Playing defense, if you will.

40% have modified some portion of their social media presence. Of those:

  • 17% have deleted accounts entirely
  • 17% have deleted some content from their accounts
  • 12% have untagged themselves in photos

The survey listed the things that recruiters find to be a negative in online profiles and the top three were profanity, use of bad grammar and punctuation, and alcohol use. They didn’t reveal the rest of the list but in talking to employers, we hear that evidence of racism, homophobia, harassment and general bad judgment can all be red flags.

The fact of the matter is that at any age, having a digital identity that is free of all negatives and professional looking puts candidates in the best position possible when it comes to the job market. Taking it a step further and making sure the online persona that you have out there makes you look professional and trustworthy is worth the time and effort it takes.

If you don’t get a job you’re interested in because of negative online content, you will never hear the real reason you were declined. Recruiters will just move on to the next candidate. There may be accounts online that you’ve forgotten about or don’t use any more, or content online posted by others about you. If you are unsure whether your online profile is up to snuff, we can help. Our one-time audit works for adults too!

 

 

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