Back when I was a twenty-something-year-old working in entry-level positions and trying to break into the professional world, social media wasn’t a thing. Friendster was launched the year after I finished college, and I was already creeping into non-food service careers, working as a grant writer for a national nonprofit.
Then came MySpace, and Facebook began shortly after as a site for college students exclusively. I used Photobucket and whatever preceded it for uploading images, but the social aspect wasn’t central to that process. I just used those sites to plop images into my blogs, which began to take the place of the zines I used to self-publish and leave at coffee shops all over Colorado.
What I’m trying to say is <scratchy old man voice> back in my day my resume, my references, and my charming demeanor in interviews–I’m very very shy, but I try–were the only things that I had to help me get a job. Conversely, there was no trail out there that could harm my chances of getting a position, either. Luckily my overly-revealing zines didn’t have my last name or face on them. </scratchy old man voice>
Now that I’m the one making hiring decisions, I have to think about all this stuff from both angles. I remember, with great acuity, the often painful process of interviews, the fruitless resume submissions, the carefully crafted cover letters that went nowhere, and the disappointment of never hearing back from a company after an interview or never even getting a call in the first place.
It doesn’t matter how awesome you are, how qualified you are, or how resilient you are; the job hunting process will always suck.
With that said, there are things that you can do that make a marketing company a lot more likely to hire you, especially if you don’t have much experience and are looking to start somewhere.
We have people contact us regularly looking for work, and while we receive some great resumes, more than we can hire, I also see some strange stuff.
Because I know what it’s like first starting out, and because I also know how difficult the job market has been for many people for many years, I want to give some feedback on how to what to do and what not to do when looking for a job. Social media can augment your job hunt, but it can also harm you, depending on how you’re doing it.
Should You Include Your Social Profiles in Your Resume?
You are not obliged to include links to your social media profiles in your resume, and unless they somehow demonstrate how involved you are with the community you’re seeking a job in, I would encourage you not to include them.
But the truth is most of us will check you out on Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Facebook. This is why I have two Twitter accounts: one for my professional life and one for fun things I don’t want tied to my professional name. Not that I’m doing anything online that would besmirch my name, but I still value having some privacy from my clients and colleagues.
You don’t have to do this. You can have one account and say whatever you want, and have it be public. But here are some tips, if you choose to have public social profiles and you want a job. These tips might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often I see these mistakes:
Don’t be self deprecating as it relates to your professional abilities or job hunt
I recently saw a Twitter bio that was both self-deprecating related to the person’s social media skills and also mentioned that he/she was looking for a job in social media marketing.
Why would we hire someone who doesn’t even believe in him/herself for the job that they want? You don’t have to be boastful about your skills, or even mention them in your bio at all, but if you want to mention the fact that you’re looking for work, please carefully consider how to do that.
Don’t say stuff that’s cruel or offensive to individuals or groups
This is obvious to some people, but I’ve seen lots of sexist, racist, and homophobic tweets, published in the name of irony or edgy humor. The thing is, if that’s your idea of humor you’re going to make a lot of your co-workers uncomfortable, and we won’t want to hire you.
If it’s important to you to express yourself this way, and if you want a job other than underpaid road comic, then first I’d advise you to not attach your real name to your social media profile. Secondly I’d urge you to challenge why you think offensive jokes are ok.
Check your grammar
If you have a tweet or public Facebook post that has a misspelled word in it, it’s not the end of the world. We all make typos and they’re definitely forgivable. However, I would strongly encourage you to proofread for typos, spelling errors, and grammatical errors when it comes to your primary profile descriptions.
Also, because LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s even more important that your LinkedIn profile and posts are free from typos. This is easier to do if you take your time and don’t rush to post things.
Note: There will be some old school grammarists who disagree with me, but I believe that using who instead of whom is totally forgivable, as is ending a sentence in a preposition. Those rules are much more bendable than using the incorrect form of your, there, or its.
What Else Should Be In Your Resume and Cover Letter?
If social media links are optional, then what is absolutely required in your resume? While I can’t speak for all employers, these are some of the pieces that I look for.
All your work experience
If you’re a recent college graduate or new to the job market, we still value seeing any work experience you’ve had. When I applied for my first professional job I had spent the previous six years working as a barista at coffee shops and cashier for a grocery store.
We find that people who have work experience, especially with the public, are often much more reliable employees. They understand what it means to be part of a team (note: I will never use the phrase “team player” because it gives me the corporate heebie-jeebies), and they typically understand why it’s important to be dependable and communicative.
If you leave every job you’ve ever had before you’ve been there even a year, then that looks kind of strange to an employer; it’s true that we want people who will stick around for a while. Even so, I would still encourage you to include your recent job experience regardless of how long you stayed at each position.
Answer each of the employer’s requests
Most employers will ask for very specific details in the cover letter or resume. Make sure that you address these.
For example, whenever we put a call out for resumes we ask potential hires to include what their superhero name would be and why. If you find this request annoying then we’re probably not the right company for you.
Conversely, if you want the job anyway but you refuse to respond to the specific questions we asked, then we probably won’t even consider you.
Show us some love
Maybe it’s because we’re a small company and our culture is incredibly important to us, but we really want to know why you want to work with us. We know you need a job; now tell us why getting a job with us would make you happy.
It’s easy to do this. Read the organization’s blog, follow them on Twitter (if you dare to expose yourself), see what they post on LinkedIn. If you’re already familiar with who we are and how we operate then it’s much easier for us to bring you into our little community.
We want to like you, and we want to know that you like us, too. Working for us is vastly different than working for Microsoft or Omnicom or Lockheed Martin. If you’re more comfortable with large corporate structures and relative invisibility, we’re not the right fit for you, even if you really really need a job.
Lots of people need a job. Tell us why you need us.
It’s Ba-ack. Good Grammar. Always.
As I mentioned above, we all make typos sometimes. But your cover letter and resume should be free of them. Strong writing skills are especially important for internet marketing, where your grammar or spelling could be the thing that makes or breaks an online conversion.
In 2005 I got a job solely based on the quality of my cover letter. They could tell I put effort into it and proofread it carefully. This matters to people. Not to all people, but to a lot of us.
Colloquial language is fine for some blog posts (see that sentence fragment in the paragraph above) and social media posts, but for professional communications like cover letters, press releases, etc., your writing should be impeccable. Send your cover letter to a grammar nerd friend and let them help edit.
Now go finish your college degree. Enjoy your last few months!
We’re excited for you. If you’re over the age of 21 come join us for a Wine Friday and get to know us. Let’s be friends first.