13 July 2015

PSA: Online Presence is Important to Transition

David Yoo, RallyPoint Civilian Careers.

Veterans Social Network

The importance of having online presence has become increasingly greater with the popularity of social networking sites in our daily lives. College administrators as well as hiring managers and recruiters have found social networking sites to be a great tool to find out more about candidates outside of the materials presented in the application process. 

In fact, a new survey discussed on CollegeRecruiter confirms what many of us already know: "the use of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have become an essential practice amongst human resource professionals with 92 percent of U.S. companies using social networks and media to find talent in 2012, up from 78 percent five years ago." 

The survey also found that nearly 3 out of 4 hiring managers and recruiters check candidates’ social profiles, and 48 percent of them always do so, even if they are not provided in the application.

All this information suggests that having an online presence is crucial to employment and transition. 

Most hiring professionals go to LinkedIn first in order to search for you and assess you based on relevant keywords. If you don't a LinkedIn profile, or an incomplete one with few relevant keywords, you’re probably going to have some trouble gaining visibility to them. 

The best advice for cultivating an online presence is the following:
  • Have a broad presence in the social media world
  • Exude and communicate professionalism
  • Avoid uploading, posting, or being tagged in controversial material

Develop a Broad Online Presence

Expand your social networking presence and make sure that you have some presence in the major networks that employers use to scout or screen candidates. 

Veterans Social Network Infographic
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter tend to be the largest civilian social networks that many hiring managers sift through to get both a metaphoric and literal picture of you and the type of person you are while they consider your application. RallyPoint is the largest military network, and many hiring managers that work for companies that have a robust hiring process for veterans and service members are active in the site. So make sure that you've organized and completed your profile on these major sites and you should have your bases covered.

Exude and Communicate Professionalism

Part of cultivating a good online presence for your future employers and veteran recruiters to see involves making sure that your profiles on various social networking sites are completed and organized.

Veterans Social Network LinkedIn
  • You want to make sure you include information that is relevant to your skill set and experience, and fill out as much information as possible when describing when and where you've worked and what you did. Part of this discussion is mostly relevant to professional networking sites like LinkedIn and RallyPoint, where many hiring managers and veteran recruiters go to find talent for their job openings. Also make sure your Facebook profile doesn't include too many personal details that you wouldn't want your employer to know through a quick Google search of your name (e.g. extraneous information about when you expect a newborn or financial information). Adjust your privacy settings if you want to limit the amount of information available for strangers to see publicly. 
  • Uploading a professional photo involves one that would help the employer see how you would fit with the company's culture. Sometimes wearing military uniform detracts from the employers' ability to envision you fitting in, so try to get a civilian and professional photo of you taken. 
  • Part of communicating professionalism on online social networks is also making your profile viewable and understandable to the common civilian employer without military experience. Try removing military lingo that isn't readily understood. 
  • Mention your civilian world achievements when you can. A lot of your accomplishments may be pertinent within the military community, but many civilian employers might not appreciate them and such information only serves to clutter your professional profile. Be concise but informative and relevant.

Avoid Controversy

Being careful with what you post in the online world may seem like common sense, but unfortunately many individuals still don't seem to truly understand how this impacts their professional careers. 

Veterans Social Network Infographics
Remember the old adage that if you don't have anything nice to say, you shouldn't say it at all. Unsurprisingly, recruiters and hiring managers find negative content to be more harmful to their perception of the candidates than not having any content at all. 

This isn't to say that you shouldn't post anything at all, but that you should always be mindful of who might be reading the content you post online. Expressing your opinions on headline issues on Facebook, for example, is not off limits. But the type of language and the approach you use to speak about the issue at hand might merit some careful consideration. As mentioned before, you should also look into your privacy settings if you want to have more control over your profile's content.

The survey we've mentioned above talks about some of the content that are big "No's." 
  • Content that recruiters especially frown on includes references to using illegal drugs (78 percent negative) and posts of a sexual nature (67 percent negative). 
  • Profanity in posts and tweets garnered a 61 percent negative reaction. 
  • 47 percent reacted negatively to posts about alcohol consumption. 
  • Grammar or spelling mistakes on social profiles saw a 54 percent negative reaction.

Go through your profiles on Facebook/Twitter and other social networks to make sure that nothing sensitive or of that nature is linked back to you. Don't let the opportunity for a job interview be pre-determined by the type of inappropriate things that your friends tagged you in, the regretful things you wrote when you were serving, or other sensitive material that you wouldn't want your family members or hiring managers to see. 

Go fill out your RallyPoint profile and make the first step in attractively marketing yourself to veteran recruiters and hiring managers. Go reach out and contact companies in our career corner.

The infographic used throughout this post is from the Hollister Institute and has been modified in this piece. All rights and ownership to the infographic and any derivates belongs to the Hollister Institute.  The source for the information presented in the infographic is pulled from Staffing Industry Analysts, Career Builder's "Annual Social Media Recruitment Survey" - conducted between Feb. 11 & March 6, 2015 & article: "Number of Employers Passing on Applicants due to Social Media Posts Continues to Rise, According to New CareerBuilder Survey."

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