According to career coach Terri Lee Ryan, by way of Jobvite, 92 percent of companies in the United States now use social media as a recruiting tool. Almost all those companies use LinkedIn to search for employees, but a good two-thirds turn to Facebook, too, while about half use Twitter.
That means a social media profile is working its way toward being as important as a list of references or a résumé for job-seekers, particularly those looking for PR and communications work. Allie Herzog Danziger, founder and president of IntegratePR in Houston, says social media is her only stop when looking for job candidates.
“I’ve never looked for a candidate outside social media,” she says. That goes for employees at Integrate who manage social media sites for clients as well as those who do traditional PR. Those two sides of the business are growing together more and more, Danziger says.
She and other recruiters offered up a few key factors that make a social media profile stand out to someone seeking out potential employees.
Personality and poise
People tend to be pretty open on their social media profiles, at the very least offering information in a conversational way. Danziger says she looks for candor and a sense of humor in any potential employee she discovers through social media. She wants to see whether he or she is a good fit for the corporate culture.
A potential hire should show some degree of control, says Joan Barrett, owner of The Content Factory, an online marketing company based in Pittsburgh.
“Not that we care whether they’re fighting with their boyfriend on their Facebook page, but that's exactly the point,” she says. “If they're immature in their postings, that's a big red flag.”
Anyone trying out for a social media job had better communicate effectively, Barrett says.
“If they use incorrect grammar, leave sloppy posts, or are boring, this is a real deal-breaker,” she says. “It can be tough to break people of these bad habits.”
Another factor, according to Danziger, is the signal-to-noise ratio. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for someone to post a lot of tweets or Facebook updates in a day, but if it’s mostly fluff about topics most people don’t care about, that person probably isn’t a good candidate.
Connections and expertise
Marcella Chamorro, an entrepreneur in Nicaragua, hired all three of her employees via Twitter.
“These three individuals were well connected within the community and had established themselves as experts in their industries,” she says.
Danziger says a great selling point for a potential employee is having a blog that’s about “more than just hanging out with friends.” If the person has something to say about the profession he or she wants to get into, it’s a real feather in his or her cap.
A nice-looking Twitter background or a compelling cover photo on Facebook shows that a person knows how to use those platforms to the best effect, Danziger says.
Casting a wide net
The more social media sites you frequent, the better, says Barrett.
“One of our recent hires, Julie Irving, already had a presence on Quora, Twitter, Facebook, and Klout,” she says. “The fact that she was already so active led me to recruit her for an opening we had for a social media/PR coordinator position.”
Though locking down a portion of one’s Facebook profile so that it’s viewable only by friends may give recruiters less to see, Danziger says it sends a clear, positive message.
“That just means they even more understand the value of an online brand and how to protect themselves,” she says. “It just means they’ve thought it through.”
Chamorro says seeing portfolios of recruits’ work made the process of choosing employees much easier.
“Not only could I view their work, I was able to evaluate their online personalities and who they interacted with,” she says.
Danziger adds that creating a website to house one’s résumé is a big convenience for employers.
Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.