Employers Checking Social Media

“There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.”
~Brian Koslow~

Nasir asks: I’ve heard that employers are checking social media more and more, to find out how professional their people really are. Should I just get rid of my Facebook profile so I don’t have to worry about my boss snooping on me?

Joel answers: That’s an option, of course, but there’s no need to stay off social media. In fact, 57% of recruiters are less likely to interview candidates who don’t have an online presence, a CareerBuilder survey found. The key is to increase your visibility wisely. Look at Facebook and other social media sites as networking tools. When that guides every choice you make on social media, you won’t have much to worry about.

Over half of employers use social media to check the profiles of their current employees, too, according to CareerBuilder, a trend that’s been growing for years. This means you need to stay vigilant regardless of your employment status!

Here are some important “dos” and “don’ts” for using social media.

Do:

  1. Do create a separate professional account.
    Your professional contacts probably won’t want to see all those videos of your new puppy. Posting a tasteful photo from your personal life here and there can humanize you, but if you go beyond that, it’s best to create a separate profile for professional use. Set up a professional Facebook account to keep your business contacts in the loop about the things they’ll really care about. Or, use your Instagram account to share family photos and personal updates—setting it so only approved followers can see them—and use Facebook for professional networking.
  2. Do set your privacy settings accordingly.
    With Facebook and many other platforms, you can choose how much the public sees of your profile. If you’re using one Facebook profile for both personal and professional networking, select privacy settings that allow only certain people to see those photos of you on vacation. If you’re setting up a separate professional account, give the public full access to your information to encourage them to “friend” or “follow” you. Similarly, consider whether you want your boss to see your LinkedIn activity. If you’re in the market for a new job, you may not want your boss to see your flurry of activity. Change your privacy settings so there’s no need to worry.
  3. Do review your existing content.
    Weed through your old photos and remove anything too racy or inappropriate on social media. Even if it’s on your personal profile, don’t take the chance that colleagues or bosses won’t see it. (What if that friend from college is your coworker one day?) Google yourself to find out what comes up—like, for instance, an old profile on a platform you no longer use, or that blog of love poetry you started as a teenager, which you could simply delete.
  4. Do select your friends wisely.
    The last thing you need after working hard to develop a professional Facebook profile is to have a goofball post something offensive on your wall. Even if you delete it, chances are someone else has seen it and the damage is done.
  5. Do review others’ posts before they go live.
    If an unprofessional post shows up, you don’t want it to hover there for weeks until you log in, so it’s the first thing any new contact sees when visiting your profile. Change your settings so you’re required to approve all posts that others make on your timeline before they go up. You can also change your settings so you’re the only one who can post on your timeline. Likewise, set your notifications so you’ll receive an email or phone alert right away if anyone tags you. Then untag yourself if you’d rather not have your contacts see the photo or post.
  6. Do show personality.
    Being professional doesn’t mean hiding your great sense of humor or witty personality—just don’t use them to make crude jokes. Branding yourself well means being authentic.

Don’t:

  1. Don’t post things you’d be embarrassed about later.
    Remember that once you post something on the Internet, it can never truly be removed. Before you post something, think, “Would I be embarrassed if my employer saw this? Would it potentially detract from my chance of getting hired or forming a relationship with a new client?” The same holds true for words as well as photos. Even if they’re on your personal profile, always err on the side of caution.
  2. Don’t complain.
    You don’t need to always be singing about sunshine and butterflies, but don’t use Facebook as a place to vent about work. Even if no single comment is over the top, a pattern of work negativity won’t make you seem like someone others want to be around—and it certainly won’t present you as confident and capable.
  3. Don’t get into Twitter feuds or feed into trolling.
    These time traps can make you look like you have major anger management issues, and they’re rarely productive. It’s fine to have a lively debate, but keep it courteous.
  4. Don’t post during work hours.
    Maybe you’ve kept it professional, posting quality content that colleagues can benefit from. But if you’ve done it during work hours, your boss or HR department might see that time stamp. Post only during lunchtime, breaks, or off-work hours so you’re not wasting time on social media at work.
  5. Don’t go overboard with advertising.
    Make your posts and status updates interesting. One of the easiest ways to lose professional “friends” on Facebook is to abuse your status updates by spamming them with advertising. As an example, instead of telling everyone you’re the best realtor in the region, give daily tips on selling a home. Use your Facebook profile to establish yourself as an expert in your field, and your followers will naturally seek you out when they have a need for your product or services.
  6. Don’t stay on too long.
    Set a time limit for social media. It may help to go on at a particular time every day, for ten minutes or so. That way, it won’t become a time suck.

Remember these pointers, and social media will serve as an important networking tool. Instead of compromising employment opportunities, it may bring you closer to your dream job or draw in clientele. And if your employer is checking out your social media habits, he’ll be nothing but impressed.

You want social media to help your career, not harm it. If perception management (and your social media image) is important to you, hire leadership coach Joel Garfinkle.

Class of 2017: Learn How to Impress Your Potential Employer

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve ~

Camden Asks: I’m going for my first set of interviews. I know I have the job skills to do the work I’m applying for, but what can I do to present myself well. How can I impress my potential employer?

Joel Answers: Great job for graduating and having valuable job skills. You ask a critical question. Many people with great skills get passed over because they make some serious gaffs in the interview process.

Your employer is going to be working with you for a while, so they want to make sure they can get along with you… and that you can get along well within the company culture. So the overarching message you need to send the potential employer is that, in addition to your work skill sets, you will be a good employee.

What are some ways you can impress this message on them? These ideas work whether you are meeting the employers at a job fair or in an interview.

  1. Research the company before you go. When you know something about the company you impress the potential employer. Not everyone takes the time to do that. It will help you understand what they are looking for and get a sense of their company culture. You may find the research helps you ask more intelligent questions and allows you to present areas of your background that especially qualify you for the job.
  2. Start with a smile and a good handshake. Look them in the eye as you smile. Think, I’m happy to be meeting you. Just that thought will make your smile more genuine.Use a firm grip on the handshake. Not crushing, not limp, not sweaty. One or two pumps is a good number. In your enthusiasm, don’t go overboard pumping the handshake.
  3. Ask questions about the company and the job. Your research will give you good questions to ask and asking questions shows interest. Be sure you take the time to listen to the answers and ask follow up questions. You may want to create a set of questions ahead of time. They might include:
    • How does the job I’m looking at support or contribute to the bottom line of the company?
    • What qualities would the ideal candidate for this job have?
    • What steps would you recommend for getting quickly up to speed?
  4. Dress Appropriately. What you wear matters. This is the “book cover” by which employers judge you. Ideally, your clothing should be similar to that of your potential employer. Your research into the company culture should give you insight into how formal or relaxed they dress. If you come across sloppy or too casual, the interviewer will think your work will reflect those same traits. If you are way overdressed, you may intimidate rather than impress the employer. How you dress is important to a successful job interview.
  5. Tell Stories. This is a powerful way to show the qualities you have. Suppose they ask, “How committed are you?” You might say, “I’m very committed to doing the job right. At my last job, my co-worker was out of work due to illness for three months. I picked up the load and carried his work. We completed the job on time and it was a success.” Your story shows how committed you are to your work and the company.

Camden, if you just do these five things, you will WOW your potential employer. They will be impressed by you confidence, your awareness of their company, and your character. They will see you as a good fit for their company. Make sure you have a job search plan that prepares you for success in the interview.

If you want to polish your interviewing skills to present thoroughly impress your potential employer, contact Joel for coaching or advice.

Talkback:
When you’ve gone to interviews, what have you found to be effective in impressing your potential employer? What hasn’t worked?

Is Permanently Temp Work
Right for Your Career?

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“They’ve asked me to do this temporarily. I don’t know what temporarily means. Life is temporary.”

~ Bob Schieffer ~

Client Patrick Asks: Does it every make sense to just make a career out of temping? Does this make me look like I can’t hold or don’t want a “real” job—that I lack ambition?

Coach Joel Answers: That depends on your life situation and your personal motivations. For example, if you like the freedom to work when you want and pursue other interests at the same time, temping is ideal. Sometimes temping can give you a higher rate of pay, but it often lacks the benefits and job security of full time employment. You could easily work fewer hours and make more money, so that makes it attractive. And many people like the challenge of getting acquainted with new companies, new people, new responsibilities.

Here are a few more benefits to add into the equation, if you’re considering a long term career as a temp.

  1. Temping enhances your resume. It shows you have a variety of skills, as well as the ability to fit easily into different environments.
  1. Temping enhances your network. You’ll meet a lot more people, get to know them and get them to know you through working temporary assignments. Who knows when the guy in the next cubicle can open the door to a whole new career or even introduce you to your future spouse?
  1. Temping keeps your skill set sharp. You know that sign on the wall at the gym—”Use it or lose it?” The same thing applies to your professional abilities. Often you go into a new assignment wondering how in the world you’ll every figure it out. Then you do, and there’s another win you can tell future employers about.
  1. Temping can facilitate a major career change. Let’s say you’ve spent your life so far in sales but you see a brighter future in IT. Maybe you’ve taken some courses or gotten some volunteer experience, but you’ve got no track record. If you can land yourself a temporary position, even at an entry-level wage, you’ll start building toward the career you really want.

In today’s economy, temping makes a lot of sense from the employer point of view as well. According to research conducted by Forbes, 36 percent of US companies will hire contract or temporary workers this year, up from 28 percent in 2009, according to the survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals. They are maintaining their productivity while reducing their risk. That presents a tremendous opportunity to someone like you. If temping feels like a good place to be, I’d say go for it.

If you think temping may have potential for you, make a list of five action items you could do this week that would get you started down the temporary path.

Talkback: Are you (or have you been) a successful temp? How did you do it? Share your best advice here.

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Tips on How to Dress for Success
During Your Job Interview

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“You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”

~ Zig Ziglar ~

Client Bart Asks: I have a couple of job interviews coming up next week. A friend told me I ought to invest in a whole new wardrobe, including an expensive looking watch. I’m a pretty casual, laid-back guy. I’d feel almost like a phony in a three-piece suit and a Rolex watch. What should I do? Can the wrong clothes truly hurt my chances of getting hired?

Coach Joel Answers: It’s an old cliché, but it’s true—you never get a second chance to make a first impression. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean a three piece suit and a Rolex. Let’s talk about how you want to be perceived by your interviewers.

Before a job interview, I advise my clients to write down three adjectives to describe how they want to be perceived. For example, one client listed “professional,” “experienced” and “energetic.”

Everything you say or do during the interview should reinforce the adjectives you choose, including every aspect of your appearance. This includes your shoes, your belt, your haircut. And, yes, even your watch.

When the employer meets you, they are judging the first thing they see and that’s your personal appearance. It’s extremely important that you don’t do anything that would undermine how you are perceived. So before you start planning your wardrobe, you need to consider the company and its culture. For example, many high-tech and entertainment companies pride themselves on a dress code that’s casual and laid back. They have an “almost anything goes” rule. That being said, you should still choose something just a cut above what’s customary for that company. If jeans are the order of the day, choose casual slacks and an open collar shirt. A three piece suit and tie would be overkill and would let the interviewer know you hadn’t done your homework.

On the other hand, if you’re interviewing with a bank or a stock brokerage, wear a suit even if you know your job is going to be in a back room somewhere. It’s always easy to scale down after you have the job, but scaling up after that first impression could be difficult.

As you role play the interview in your mind, here are some tips on how to dress for success during your job interview:

  • Start with a smile and a firm handshake. Practice with a friend if you need to.
  • Avoid wearing anything that attracts too much attention. No jangling bracelets or day-glo t-shirts.
  • Men should consider having a clean shaven face.
  • Minimize the amount of skin you’re showing. No tank tops or mini-skirts.
  • Eliminate unusual hairstyles. Avoid pink or green hair dyes.
  • Cover or remove tattoos and extensive body piercings.
  • Leave off cologne or perfume. Many people have allergies to these products and some companies have a policy that prohibits them.
  • Make sure your teeth are brushed and your mouth is fresh, but don’t chew gum or candy during an interview.

Remember, when you go for an interview, you’re marketing a product—that’s you. You are expressing your personal brand, telling your prospective employer who you are and what you’ll bring to the company. You may only be there for a few minutes—make them count.

If you’re in the job market you need an interviewing game plan. Before your next interview, put together a couple of outfits that are both low-key and impressive. Borrow accessories from a friend, if you need to. Dress for success!

Talkback: Have you ever been in an interview situation where you felt you could have been better dressed? Do you think it kept you from being hired? What would you do differently next time? Share your story here.

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Salary is Important, But so are Benefit and Compensation Packages
When it Comes to Looking for a Job

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“Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.”

~ Ralph Marston ~

Client Kevin Asks: I got an offer letter from the company I really want to work for. It’s a pretty low offer. Do I just take what I can get and hope to work my way up once I’m there, or is there a way to negotiate for more right up front?

Coach Joel Answers: Most companies expect you to negotiate once an offer has been made, as I discuss in Get Paid What You’re Worth. It’s not whether you negotiate that’s important—it’s HOW you negotiate that matters. Begin by thanking the hiring manager for the offer. He or she wants to hear how much you’re interested in joining the company and being part of the team. Companies want candidates that want to work for them. Reiterate the skills and experience that you bring to the table and how your past experience will add value to their company. Your goal is to develop a win-win situation for the two of you. If your negotiations are sincere, thoughtful, professional, and respectful, you’re far more likely to have a successful outcome.

Don’t be cocky in your approach, and above all, don’t lie or exaggerate about other offers. You may be the best candidate for the job, but rarely will you be the only candidate in today’s market. If you come off as arrogant or over-confident, your potential employer will likely select the next best candidate. Don’t try to play one employer’s offer against another. This makes it seem like the only thing you’re concerned with is money. Money should not be your primary concern if you’re choosing between two positions. If it’s only about money, the hiring manager will know that, if you get another offer, you’ll be likely to leave their company on a financial whim.

Remember, salary isn’t the only thing you can negotiate. There are many other benefits that a hiring manager may have more flexibility to offer. Vacation time is one of the most common perks people negotiate. Wouldn’t getting three weeks of vacation instead of two mean a higher quality of personal life for you? Stock options, bonuses, compensation package, commission, holiday days, telecommuting benefits, even the amount the employer contributes to your health insurance—these can all be negotiated. Sometimes perks and intangibles are more important than the net amount on your paycheck because they contribute to a higher quality of work and personal life.

What if there’s no give at all on your potential employer’s part? If you’ve presented a good, solid business case for why you should get a certain compensation package, and the answer is “No,” you need ask yourself these questions: Are you unemployed and desperate for a job? Do you see a huge opportunity to advance in this company? Would you really enjoy the job itself? Are there other benefits that make the job attractive? Can you meet your current financial obligations with the offer as is? If so, then you may want to accept the position. However, it may be that this simply isn’t the right opportunity for you.

Keep looking. Your perfect job is out there.

If you are preparing for a salary negotiation in the near future, write down all the aspects of the job as well as the benefits and compensations that are important to you. Make two lists: “have to have” and “nice to have.” This will help you know when to stay and when to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Talkback: Have you ever accepted a lower salary than you wanted in exchange for some perks and benefits you liked? Share your experience here.

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