Taking responsibility for your presence on social media as a PR professional is just as important as crafting a solid resume if you’re trying to break into the field or if you’re between PR jobs. Your Twitter feed, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and Pinterest boards can say as much about you as a cover letter, resume or an in-person interview.
“I always take a look at the social media presence of potential candidates. From LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook and even Tumblr and Pinterest, there are many options for potential employers to get to know candidates even before they step through the door,” says Lisa Zlotnick, vice president of media at Lippe Taylor.
A survey conducted in February/March 2012 by Career Builder found that 37% of employers are using social networking sites to research job candidates. The majority of these professionals said they used social media to find out whether candidates present themselves professionally, whether a candidate is a good fit for the company culture and whether the candidate is well-rounded.
Lori Russo, managing director of Stanton Communications, says she also reviews job candidates’ online presence before bringing them aboard. “While the information about previous experience is the same as what can be found on a resume, LinkedIn does offer additional detail such as group memberships and recommendations that can give me a better idea of the person’s professional network and affiliations,” says Russo.
Zlotnick and Russo agree that a candidate who engages with trending topics, shares newsworthy articles and converses with other professionals in the field stands out from the herd.
Kathleen Henson, founder of Henson Consulting, a boutique PR firm based in Chicago, offers the following tips for PR job seekers who want to be sure that their social media profiles present them in the best possible light.
1. Be Appropriate: Make sure your social media accounts have an appropriate mix of your own personality and professional industry information. Show potential employers that you’re on top of what’s happening in the PR world, but also let your personality, hobbies and passions (and creativity) shine through.
2. Be Relevant: Include links to your social media sites on your resume, but make sure they’re relevant and also not private accounts. There’s no point in having your Facebook link on your resume if your account is private. Also, if you are a blogger, share your writing even if it is about fashion, your family or favorite band. Employers can get a feel for how you express yourself.
3. Pin Your Qualifications: Pin your resume on Pinterest. It’s a great way to show you're up to speed on social media trends and showcases your creativity and smarts.
4. Be Interactive: Follow organizations that you are interested in and passionate about. Retweet useful PR-related content and share your opinions about hot news items. This helps employers see that you stay abreast of industry trends and that you’re not just blasting out information.
5. Cyberstalk Yourself: Google your name and see what comes up. Employers often will do the same, so make sure it’s all good stuff. Remember that what you post online lives on well beyond your crazy days in college.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of expressing your personality on social channels––just remember to use common sense. “Know that your personality is just as important as your resume, so make sure you let that shine on through,” says Zlotnick.
Follow Danielle Aveta: @DanielleAveta