The expression, “you only have one chance to make a first impression” is a cliché for a reason. Given the ubiquitous nature of social media, I want my resume clients’ first impressions to be not just good, but to be the best possible. A key element to consider is how individuals present their personal brand image in their communications, including social media platforms, cover letters, and emails.
According to CareerBuilder.com, 37% of employers use social media to screen applicants. Another poll by Reppler estimates that number at 91%. Job seekers can no longer work under the assumption that they have two faces on social media—one for Facebook and one for LinkedIn, for example.
I spoke with Dave Geffre, who has a long career as a project director with a Fortune 500 technology manufacturer, for his perspective as a hiring manager. “You have a whole story of who you are,” he said. “Employers want to understand the whole person and they use social media to help them.”
Based on his experience, Mr. Geffre says that Facebook is often a more accurate reflection how of an individual might fit in on a team than a resume. Millennials are tech savvy, but might not be as savvy with their personal branding image. “Yes, have fun in your life,” he said, “but make sure you are consistent in how you present yourself.”
He also said that most employees will hire the personality that fits on their team and will then provide training for the needed skill. However, Mr. Geffre said, when reviewing resumes and cover letters, he sets aside about 95% of those containing errors. He said he might overlook minor errors if the candidate is highly qualified. “If they make simple errors in their own cover letters, imagine how simple errors could multiply when they are on the job,” he said.
Another aspect to consider is how we have changed our communication styles through the use of email and Twitter. Learning how to focus your message, concisely and accurately, is an excellent skill to develop. However, try not to be in such as rush to share your message that you completely abandon conventions for grammar and spelling. “Misspelled words are the absolute kiss of death,” Mr. Geffre said. “Don’t depend on the spellchecker and re-read your message before you send it out.”
It is worth repeating that you only have one chance to make the best first impression.