Most people see social media as a means of connecting to other people and being “transparent” to those outside their immediate circle. Especially in the business world, this can be shallow and naïve.
For job seekers, social media is a means for optimally positioning oneself to be noticed. It’s about cultivating and projecting an image that highlights skills and benefits for a prospective employer. For the employer, seeking applicants who follow those guidelines can help discriminate among candidates and expedite the process of locating the best employee.
Where this becomes difficult for both parties is the issue of past termination. Past terminations need not get in the way for either the applicant or the employer. It does not have to be the dead end for future jobs or, for the employer, future hiring.
For job seekers, it’s never appropriate to mention that you were laid off or that you are currently not employed. There is no need to broadcast that information. When people say they are looking for a job, the impression is that they are hurting or depressed. For most people, what we do is who we are. If we are unemployed, then we are nobody. People always go toward the negative when they hear that another is unemployed.
When someone says, “I was laid off,” the first thing a responder says is “Oh, I’m sorry.” People project their own fears and trepidations onto the person who has been laid off. Also, people don’t always buy the “I was laid off “ line and will interpret it as spin for “I was terminated.” Then they wonder, “What did that person do wrong to get fired?”
So, for job-seekers, the fact that you are “in-between positions, should only come out, if at all, after you have an offer and discussions about start dates and notice periods occur. Use social media to work for, not against, you.
The opposite side of this discussion is employers who are using social media as they seek to replace or expand their companies. Look for those who promote themselves in a positive and strong manner. If you learn that the person you are considering was terminated, know that it may have been a good thing for both the applicant and the previous employer. It may simply have been a bad match in a number of ways that do not reflect on the applicant’s ability to work well within your company. You’ve gotten this far with the applicant for a reason. Don’t automatically assume the applicant will make a poor employee. Try to find the cause behind the termination and see if it is relevant to the position or your company’s culture.
As an aside, when the economy really starts to turn around, those who will benefit from the new jobs will, I predict, be the ones that already have jobs. It is human nature to seek something or someone that is already possessed by someone else. It is unfortunate, but I think true, that the unemployed will be second in line for the new jobs. Those still employed will be perceived as the best employees because they survived the massive layoffs of the recession or depression.
This is yet another reason for the unemployed to use social media to highlight their abilities and not their past. Meet with the prospective employer so those past experiences can be discussed in person and not fall victim to social media assumptions. Once you’re in the door, focus on what you can do for the company.
For you employers out there, while the trend might indicate those employed will have the job seeking edge, don’t miss out on a potentially good match for your company if you find someone has been terminated. Use social media to find potential employees that show themselves to be strong and qualified, and then be aware that if you find they have indeed been terminated, it ‘s not necessarily a bad thing. If you believe the applicant can deliver value and make your company money, it might just override elements in their past.