Using social media in your retail job search

Social media, as we all know, is the ‘next big thing.' Until now, social networking sites may have proven useful to reconnect with old work colleagues or view the holiday snaps of various far-flung family members, but increasingly an awareness of social media during your job search is what can set you apart from the crowd.

The stats

More than half of employers use social media to screen job seekers, according to research undertaken by in January 2010. At that point, 53% of the companies surveyed said that they had already used social media to check out potential hires, with another 12% reported to be considering adopting the practice. Worryingly for job seekers, 43% of the same organisations questioned said information that they had uncovered online had caused them not to consider a candidate for a role.
Job advertising on social media resources is also on the rise. 92% of employers actively hiring "currently use or plan to use" social media to recruit new staff, according to the latest social recruiting survey conducted by recruitment software provider Jobvites in July 2010.
So it is likely that social media will influence your retail job search, whether you actively pursue it or not. Michael Page Retail can suggest a few simple steps to ensure that you use the social media trends to your benefit in your quest for new employment.

1) Perfecting your online profile

The primary reasons that employers decided not to hire a candidate as a result of online research, according to the survey were:
  • Candidate lied about their qualifications (38%)
  • Candidate displayed poor communication skills (31%)
If you type your name into a search engine, it will be apparent where potential employers can locate you online. Ensure that any information available for public consumption matches what you've stated on your CV. Also, like on your CV check the spelling and grammar of any online profiles and that the information is presented in a coherent and professional fashion.
Nine percent of hiring managers also stated that they had discounted a candidate based on provocative or inappropriate photographs or information available online. The easiest way to ensure that the first impression you make is a good one is with the use of a smart head and shoulders shot for online profiles, appropriate within a professional context.

2) Sell yourself

Employers don't only search the internet for reasons to discount potential candidates, but also to actively seek out their strengths within a particular market. Hiring managers, especially within more creative and consumer-led industries, are looking to attract those candidates considered trendsetters and leaders, in turn able to contribute to the growth of market share.
So if you've excelled in the retail space, shout about it! Mention any awards and accolades in your online networking profiles. Or write a blog to showcase your thought leadership and demonstrate your passion for your industry.

3) Connect online

Creating a professional online presence leaves you prepared, but passive in your job search. As a large majority of employers and recruiters now report that social media is a key channel to market, it is crucial to be active with your new and improved online persona.
Investigate where the key players in the retail industry congregate online. For the team at Michael Page Retail, LinkedIn is the networking tool of choice. As recruiters often announce new vacancies using social media as a priority, connecting with us online often allows you to be one of the first in-the-know about a new role.
To connect with the Michael Page Retail team on LinkedIn, please see links to their profiles below:
Martin Haywood - manager, London
Oliver Nevel - operating director, Midlands
Annabel Plowman - consultant, North
For more advice on your job search, please contact your Michael Page Retail team.