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Bradley-Morris answers questions from transitioning military job seekers.
Q: As with many of my peers, I’ve been somewhat active on social media during my time in service. But as I approach my transition, it’s clear that it’s something I should be paying more attention to, especially as it relates to my job search. Can you give me some guidance on LinkedIn especially and how to use it? Plus, what are the privacy issues I am also hearing about?
A: Thanks so much for the question. It’s an important one because everything you do or have done online becomes part of your social media footprint. In addition, I think you’re coming to understand that social media is not at all social. It can also be a virtual networking opportunity for careers.
So first things first, what is LinkedIn? Pretty simply, it’s like Facebook but with a focus on careers and jobs instead of family and pet pics. So you can understand why companies seeking to hire would be active on it.
Anyone who applies for a job these days can be pretty sure that if you’re a serious candidate for the position, the business will search for your LinkedIn profile. It’s a billboard of you, so they want to see how much of your profile you’ve filled out, whether it matches the resume on their desk, if you chose a professional looking picture and if there are spelling errors Ð all things that may play into their decision to move forward with you as a candidate for a job. So it’s important that you put your best foot forward. Spend at least as much time on your LinkedIn profile as you do on your resume. You’ll probably spend more time on LinkedIn, in fact, as you’ll be looking to join groups that highlight your professional activities and aspirations, and those groups will hopefully serve as networking activities, as well.
But you said you’ve been active on social media previously. Does the impression you’ve left on your other social media channels match the professional picture that a business would find on LinkedIn? If not, it may be a reason a company eliminates you from consideration for a job opening.
Therefore, it’s equally important to spend time deleting any embarrassing or controversial material on other social media channels. Part of this involves checking the privacy settings on each of them in detail. Hopefully, you can lock down your Facebook so only friends can see it. Twitter is tougher as it’s much easier to share and like content - look to delete any tweets that you’ve made with a controversial hashtag. However, because your posts may be cached or because someone finds a way around the protections, you pretty much have to assume that anything you post will be open to the world.
Unfortunately, if you have been especially active and/or have a very distinctive name, your activity may be easy to find. In this case, do as much damage control as you can by deleting content and updating privacy settings, then make sure to fill your most recent and ongoing posts/tweets/pictures with positive professional impressions.
Whew. After all that is done, go back to LinkedIn: The site offers a free one-year Job Seeker upgrade and a free one-year subscription to Lynda.com for eligible military and veterans. Lynda.com offers thousands of video tutorials on numerous educational opportunities. To take advantage of this benefit, just log on to upgrade your LinkedIn profile at https://veterans.linkedin.com/. Good luck with your career search!
Mike Arsenault is Vice President of Candidate Services at military placement firm Bradley-Morris, Inc. He can be reached at (800) 330-4950 ext. 2105 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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