An inconsistent approach to social media can jeopardise your job prospects

With around 260 million worldwide users, of which there are over 13 million in the UK, LinkedIn has become the ‘go to’ site for many job seekers. But, as is the case with social media, use it unwisely and you can jeopardise your chances of career progression. A survey of 2,000 British workers by employment recruiter Randstad found that while three-fifths (61%) of employees tailor their CV when they are applying for a new job, less than one-fifth (19%) amend their LinkedIn profiles to match, and over a third (34%) don’t tailor either their CV or their LinkedIn profiles. The research also highlighted the different tactics used by men and women. While a quarter (26%) of men will tailor their LinkedIn profile when applying for a new job, only 14 percent of women will do so. Far more women tailor their CV only (52%) as opposed to 46 percent of men.

In the answer to the question, “do you tailor your CV and your LinkedIn profile when applying for a new job” respondents said:

  • I tailor my CV only: 46 percent
  • I don’t tailor either: 34 percent
  • I tailor both my CV and my LinkedIn profile: 15 percent
  • I tailor my LinkedIn profile only: 4 percent

“LinkedIn is becoming a more widely spread tool for building a career, but more users are falling prey to its limitations,” advised Mark Bull, CEO of Randstad UK.

“Fewer than one in five employees will update their profile when applying for a new job. Employees forget that in the internet age, they effectively have two CVs – online as well as on paper. If their LinkedIn profile doesn’t match up to current skills, then they are at risk of falling flat.

“More than ever, employers are using the internet to whittle down candidates and create a shortlist of people they want to interview. LinkedIn is one of the main ways they do this. It is far better so leave your LinkedIn profile with minimal information, than to include a lot of details highlighting that your skills and experience are not perfectly matched to a role. Unless you have the time to tailor your LinkedIn profile to suit every role you are applying for, it is better to leave it sparse than risk appearing irrelevant.”

Significantly, over half of employees (54%) doubt they would have been hired for their current role if they hadn’t been able to filter their social media presence when they applied for the position. One in ten (9%) employees thinks they wouldn’t have been hired if they hadn’t altered privacy settings on their profile beforehand. Only 45 percent of employees were certain that their employer would still have hired them, if they had been able to see all the information about them on the internet, while a further 46 percent are unsure whether they would still have been hired.

When asked which social media pitfalls employees consider a threat to their future career, a quarter (25%) cited inappropriate images, 24% said offensive/contentious posts, while one in six (16%) said bad grammar and spelling and another sixth (16%) highlighted being caught ‘pulling a sickie’.

Only one in 17 (6%) said a lack of social media presence was a threat to their career, while just one in 20 (5%) said an outdated LinkedIn profile was holding them back.

A fifth of employees (20%) worry about employers reviewing their social media profiles.

Mark Bull concluded: “Most people are aware of the dangers of having inappropriate images or statements online – and the enormous damage it can cause to their career.

“In the past, candidates only had to worry about how they present themselves in person at an interview. Now, you must also consider how you present yourself online. But workers are less well versed in the hidden pitfalls of the social media landscape.”