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The role of social media in the UK employment market

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It’s considered an expectation that brands and businesses should have a social media presence, as a lack of online activity can be viewed as a sign of being behind the times.

But what about the other way around? What are businesses expecting from consumers – more specifically, what do recruiters look for from prospective employees?

Recruitment firm Randstad has observed some habits of UK professionals, and it’s quite easy that they can shoot themselves in the foot and inhibit their own progression if the content on their digital profiles isn’t up to scratch.

The study found that 80 per cent of employees in the tech sector tailor their CVs when applying for new roles, but 55 per cent leave their LinkedIn accounts untouched. 

Despite the fact LinkedIn would fit under the bracket of tech, those working in the sector neglect the professional platform more than employees in other areas, with just 24 per cent and 20 per cent of those in legal and finance failing to personalise their profiles.

But while tech staff maybe slack with their approach to updating their profiles, their background also suggests they’re more savvy, according to the report. A lack of social media presence was a worry for 15 per cent of people and 11 per cent were concerned about a stale LinkedIn account.

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Ruth Jacobs, managing director of Randstad Technologies, said: “It is worrying that over half of professionals in the tech sector are not paying attention to their online persona, even though this information is more immediately available and accessible than ever before.

“Social media has become an important communication platform, and more employers now check these channels to review potential candidates for suitability and to obtain more information – particularly through LinkedIn.

“Candidates need to be aware that this is essentially an online CV. Unless you have the time to personalise your profile for each role, it is better to include less information than overcrowd it with too much, which may only serve to highlight your extraneous experience and skills. Too much information can be harmful if a potential employer decides it is not relevant.”

Factoring other social media channels into the equation, the study found 65 per cent of tech employees aren’t concerned about future employers looking at their social media accounts.

However, 25 per cent admitted they were worried about social media blunders – perhaps they saw what happened to Krispy Kreme’s Facebook campaign – with 32 per cent citing offensive posts as errors and 29 per cent worried about “inappropriate pictures”. 

Additionally, 26 per cent of tech workers said bad grammar and spelling was likely to be another strike against an application.

Professionals in the tech space would be more likely to use Facebook to research a candidate, with 39 per cent choosing the social network, compared to 32 per cent for LinkedIn, both of which were ahead of a Google or Twitter search. When viewed against other sectors though, tech workers were more likely to use LinkedIn to spy on recruits than finance and legal staff, the results found.

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Jacobs added: “The dangers of having inappropriate photos or posts on social media are well-known – whether these impart the wrong impression or cause damage to reputation.

“As well as taking care of their physical impression, prospective candidates now also have to take care of their online persona. However, having no social media presence is not a solution either. Especially now that online technology has become so intertwined with business it is important for candidates to show employers that they keep up with these advances, are aware and know how to use them – as their jobs might potentially involve these.”

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