First impressions set the tone for any relationship—professional, friendly, romantic or otherwise. These impressions are made quickly. How quickly, you ask? According to a Princeton University study, it takes one-tenth of a second for us to make up our minds about someone. That’s one hundred milliseconds. The literal blink of an eye!
Now, in the 21st century, what are the odds we’ll be making these first impressions in-person?
It depends, of course. But it’s safe to say the odds are much, much lower, especially when it comes to the hiring process.
These days—for better or for worse—first impressions are made online.
It’s no secret that hiring managers often utilize employment-oriented online services to advertise job openings, LinkedIn being the preeminent example. In fact, a 2016 Jobvite survey indicates “87% of recruiters regularly use LinkedIn.” Not only do these websites offer increased exposure for their company, but they allow recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate and screen talent as they apply.
These screening practices aren’t limited to the likes of LinkedIn. Companies will often check other social media. A study by CareerBuilder found that 58% of employers conduct social screenings to look for information supporting a candidate’s qualifications for the job, 50% want to ensure the candidate has a professional online persona, and 34% want to see what other people are posting about the candidate.
So, how should a job hunter feel about companies scouring their social media platforms?
In this week’s Ingenio webinar we explained why you should view it as an opportunity. An opportunity to showcase your personal brand. An opportunity to make a good first impression.
If you missed it, register for next week’s webinar here. Ingenio CEO Rob Magee will discuss the best way to establish your short, medium, and long-term goals.
CURATING YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
LinkedIn is a great place to start when advertising yourself to potential employers. Here are some tips to help you stand out:
- Professional photos: When creating your LinkedIn profile, choose photos that are professional—a headshot or a picture from graduation, perhaps. Remember: it only takes one-tenth of a second to make a good first impression! A nice photo can do just that. Add an equally professional cover photo to round out the visual side of your LinkedIn profile.
- Showcase your work: If you have tangible evidence of your expertise, LinkedIn can serve as your portfolio. An active user who’s willing to show their work is usually indicative of someone who loves what they do and is proud of their accomplishments. Employers want someone who can bring pride and ambition to their company.
- Engage and network: LinkedIn is by no means the only online space to network, but it’s a great place to do so. By and large, people are helpful. They want and, indeed, like to give advice. Reach out to someone who’s working in a field you could see yourself moving into. Or better yet, reach out to someone who’s working in the very position you hope to be in. Ask them questions. Create connections.
Next, take a look at your other social media accounts. How can they bolster your online presence?
- Creative license: Remember there are differences to social media platforms. Each comes with its own norms and social expectations. LinkedIn, for example, tends to be the most professional social platform. You wouldn’t find ‘memes’ being shared. But on Twitter or Facebook, you might be allowed a little more creative license. Showcasing different layers of personality, and that you have interests outside of the workspace, is not a bad thing to advertise. But be sure that you’re doing it in the right spaces.
- Self-screen: Whether we like it or not, we live in a digital era where our online selves are a reflection of our real-life selves. When you’re undergoing a job search, you want to put your best foot forward. For that reason, it is a good idea to review how you’re conducting yourself online. Maybe consider making your account private if it’s of a personal nature, or making it abundantly clear that you speak for yourself and not for your employer.
Or, maybe, if you’re looking to create a one-stop-shop for all things YOU: create a personal website.
- A place of your own: What better way to exhibit your achievements thanthrough a website of your own. Here you can include examples of your work, a page to introduce yourself, and even embed your social media into the website. If you have a blog or other creative passion, your website could serve as its home. Most importantly, it’s another way for employers to find you, so don’t forget to include your contact information.
- DIY website builders: There are some great website building platforms out there. The likes of WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix are inexpensive tools for easily making a clean and professional website.
Injecting your values into each of these areas will give you a leg up on the competition:
- Advertise your goals and values: At Ingenio Learning, we encourage those who take our career coaching program to think deeply about the values they espouse and the goals they want to achieve. If you can convey these values and goals with specificity on each of the platforms listed above, it shows you’ve thought about the future and aren’t just another serial job applicant. We know this all too well at Ingenio. We’re a leading recruiter for Saas businesses and when coaching talent to best present themselves, we encourage specificity. It’s far more impressive to say, “I’d like to begin my time at this company as a Junior CRM Project Manager with a view to becoming a Senior Project Manager within three years, having completed all my agile certifications,” than to say, “I’m exploring opportunities within the tech space.”
- Humanize: Another reason to advertise your values? Most of the time employers aren’t hiring you to be a cog in a machine. Rather, they’re looking for someone who will contribute to the culture of the company. If you’re an ambitious, good-natured, value-driven person and can get that across on your LinkedIn, social media or website, your digital first impression will be a good one.
MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
Today, the world is networked and digital. In all likelihood, a hiring manager’s first impression of you will be of your online presence. It’s essential that it reflect your values and goals, and increases rather than hinders your chances of getting a job.
The examples above detail some of the ways you can establish and advertise your personal brand online.
This said, your personal brand is so much more than your online presence. So, for when you do meet your future employer in-person: be ready to dole out that firm handshake; keep practicing that confident, assured eye contact; and be prepared to break out that winning smile. They’re important. But they’ll come later, after you’ve secured that interview.
In the meantime, let’s make sure you’re making a good first impression online, so that you can set the tone for what’s to come.
To find out more about building your personal brand and making a positive first impression, register for our weekly webinar with Ingenio CEO Rob Magee.
Written by Aidan O’Driscoll.