When people can't get a job they blame it on all manner of things: they're racist, they're fattist, it's because of my hair or my hijab or because immigrants are taking up all the jobs - I've never heard this one though and it's more likely now than ever before that your own crazy opinions are keeping you from the job you want.
I love social networking as much as the next person, however, I am all too aware that what you write can make or break your chances of getting jobs.
Nowadays your résumé/CV is not your potential employer's only source of information about you; they tend to google you as well.
Would you be happy for your employer to see everything that comes up about you?
Using social networks consciously and responsibly has never been more important. What you write, share and 'like' matters; it gives insight to your personality and temperament; it could be standing between you and that highflying job.
Here are my tips:
THE HEADLINE TEST
Before you post anything think: “Would I be proud to see this shared on the front cover of The Wall Street Journal or The Financial Times?” I learnt this tip on my first job at Goldman Sachs.
If you’re angry, annoyed or irritated do not tweet, blog or post anything. Feel free to rant and rave about it in your personal word processor but leave it be until you are not angry or at least less angry and you’ll find that it was going to be one of those posts you later regretted.
If you tweet a lot of random stuff, don't connect your twitter to your LinkedIn. You know employers and headhunters officially trawl LinkedIn profiles to find out stuff, right?
So you’re mr or ms popular: you’re the entertainment organiser at your school or university. Good for you, but that doesn’t mean you need to have a completely open Facebook profile. If people are interested in what you have to say they can follow you on Facebook in which case they only see your “public” posts not those to “friends” only.
Go through your personal info and carefully select what is viewable by the public and what is not. It should only be stuff that adds positive value to your employability.
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS CAREFULLY
Facebook didn’t always have the subscription/follow button so people used to accept friends willy nilly. Personally, I don’t friend anyone that I don’t actually know.
Decide what criteria people need to satisfy to be your “friend” on Facebook and only friend those. Everyone else can subscribe to your public posts.
THE FUNNY TEST
Funny or hateful? The biggest temptation is to share stuff that makes us laugh. Once you’ve had a good laugh you always want to share. Making people laugh makes them like us and everyone loves to be liked.
Unfortunately, a lot of funny stuff is funny because it’s taking a stab at a certain segment of society. Before you share funny stuff, think about whether it makes you look like a misogynist, a racist, a homophobe, a pervert or whether it is persecuting a given religious group.
I know a guy who had a nice job that he could have stayed in for years but ended up having to resign because he was sharing inappropriate material on an internal group chat.
You don’t have to use your real name. Even if you use a real photo of yourself if you create a pseudonym you’re going to be hard to find with google searches. If you’re working under an alias you have a lot more leeway in terms of what you tweet and share, however, keep in mind that someone in the ‘inner circle’ could betray your confidence.
On occasion I have had people write in to me to say they want to build a business but in order to start they need to save some money. The problem: they can’t save a thing because their job doesn’t bring in enough money for them to save at all.
What can you do if you are in this position?
Firstly, have an independent person look at your personal finances (especially how you spend), to see if they can find additional savings. If you want to do a re-analysis yourself then get my book, Build Super Savings. This book takes you through your entire financial profile including tips on how to make more money and save a little extra.
Secondly, figure out how you can earn more. Finding another job is a good way to gain a bump in salary but there is one little problem that I find many more people than you would expect make: typos!
A good employer, that is, one that will pay you what you are worth uses what’s on paper to determine whether you are worth an interview. If you have too many typos and grammatical errors your CV/resume will go straight into the rubbish pile without consideration.
I had to fire the very first person I employed for this very reason after a week. For every sentence he wrote there were at least 3 typos; he was using spell check function to autocorrect himself, however, his spelling was so bad that the suggestions he was getting were frequently also not the correct words.
I sat very close to him so I observed all the work he was doing and I wasn’t impressed. He was meant to be my marketing manager which includes responding to emails and some social media and I could not rely on him to write a decent email response or represent the Neno Natural brand correctly in any public domain.
I raised the issue on the second day and he said he thought he may be dyslexic but he had never been tested. Two days later my trust was falling even lower so by the end of the week I had to make a decision. He was a nice guy and I liked him but to keep him would be damaging to the business so I let him go.
On paper, he looked great and even when you saw him, he looked very executive. However, within one week I was sure that he didn’t write his own CV because he didn’t match up to it at all in reality.
When I hired him he had been struggling to find a job except for one as a delivery man for a courier company. Delivering packages fortunately doesn’t require you to write any sort of copy. The main thing standing between this man and the well-paying marketing job he wanted was English grammar skills. He had signed up to marketing courses to improve his CV but all he needed was an intensive English grammar course. How he had made it through the English education system right through to university with such low writing skills, I do not know.
It’s very hard to admit to being bad at English especially when it is meant to be your native tongue – but if you’re in this boat, man up – get onto a course and get your English, written and spoken, polished up.
If you’re not sure how good your English is write a few things and get an independent opinion. Small things you can do now to improve your written English include:
It’s going to sound very sad but throughout my teens I used to carry a little dictionary / thesaurus around. I enjoyed reading it when I had breaks. I also used to list and define words I didn’t know on paper well into my twenties. You don’t have to go this far but the more literature you engage with the better your writing and reading becomes. The better you can write, the better the job you will find.
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Heather on Wealth
I enjoy helping people think through their personal finances and blog about that here. Join my personal finance community at The Money Spot™.