Career fair is one way for jobseekers to meet their potential employers face to face. PIC BY HAFIZ SOHAIMI

Social media has become an inevitable tool for recruiting personnel. Your profile on social media can have a major impact on your job opportunities.

Sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google, allow employers to gather an idea of candidates, in addition to their resumes, cover letters and interviews.

Considering the excellent benefits connecting with professionals on LinkedIn brings, college students and today’s graduates cannot ignore the importance of building a professional online presence that will make them attractive to recruiters later on.

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, recently revealed the most popular words found on Malaysians’ LinkedIn profiles.

Malaysians used the word “experienced” the most last year, followed by “skilled”, “specialise”, “passionate”, “leadership”, “responsible”, “motivated”, “expert”, “creative” and “excellent”.

This is the seventh consecutive year that LinkedIn shared buzzwords to help members improve their profiles.

In 2016, “experienced” was ranked the fourth most used word, with “skilled” not even in the top 10. This suggests that jobseekers are emphasising their work experience and skills over personal strengths to make themselves more relevant to employers.

LinkedIn Southeast Asia and North Asia head of communication Linda Lee said: “Everyone wants to get the right job or opportunity, and the good news is all of us can do something different to improve our chances.

“Employers typically value experience and skills over paper qualifications. Listing out your achievements at work will boost your chances of being noticed, especially in a massively competitive job market.

“The goal is to let the potential employer recognise what makes you different from the competition and open the door for that first interview.

“Beyond using words to describe themselves, we are also encouraging our members to stay engaged with their networks and establish a voice in their community.

“It’s important to stand out from the crowd by bringing out our authentic selves.”

Ernst & Young (EY) Malaysia Talent Leader Lee Soo Fern said generally, the company does not review a candidate’s social media accounts as part of the recruitment process.

Ernst & Young (EY) Malaysia Talent Leader, Lee Soo Fern.

However, she said, when it comes to experienced hires, they will refer to LinkedIn profiles at some point.

“The reason we do this is to obtain more information about the candidates that may not have been indicated in their resumes or raised during the interview,” said Lee.

“For example, their professional network and activities, their thoughts or views on subject matters or issues, or other achievements.

“Therefore, it is recommended that candidates keep their LinkedIn profiles professional and updated.”

She also added that while social media can be helpful, it does not replace resumes, cover letters and personal contacts with the candidate, such as interviews.

“Resumes and cover letters are important to make a positive first impression or pique the interest of employers to secure an interview.

“Candidates should also think about what makes them stand out. Knowing what is unique or special about oneself and actively profiling it makes it memorable for recruiters or interviewers.

“For example, if the candidate is a national sportsman, or has taken a gap year to serve the community, or has had to work part time to fund his studies, then highlight it in the cover letter or resume.

“But ensure it is authentic. Recruiters look at many resumes and cover letters, so think about being different,” she added.

MMC Corporation Bhd Group Human Resources head Izham Ab Wahab said while all these buzzwords are important in a resume, it is critical for candidates to be able to articulate their experiences, skill sets and areas of specialisation clearly.

Izham said they must look at the requirements of the vacant jobs as advertised by the company and focus on customising their experiences, skill sets and areas of specialisation that will be relevant to the context of the job that they are applying.

“The ability to clearly describe your experiences, skill sets and areas of specialisation will make it easier for the talent recruiter, and more importantly the hiring manager, to spot and shortlist you.

“Candidates may have a number of experiences and skill sets, but more often than not, they will have one or two specific areas where they have more experience in, ones that have developed to become their strengths.

“If a candidate is able to describe this in their resume, it will certainly boost their chance of being shortlisted,” he added.

Headhunter Serina Sherlyn Lee said it has become a trend for job seekers “selling” or branding themselves in social media to get attention from the recruiters.

“Being in this industry for quite some time, I must say that the traditional way of finding jobs by sending out resume with cover letters has becoming less popular, especially among the young ones.

“These days, everyone will always be on the move with their gadgets. They are too dependent on getting all sorts of information in just one click.

“Jobseekers look at it as an opportunity to market themselves in social media, with LinkedIn being one the popular choices.

“As a headhunter, I will be connected with them almost directly if I hit the right ‘buzzwords’ without having to go through the old way of recruiting. It saves a lot of time and energy, too. Although by end of the day, we still have to see proof of their credentials before hiring them,” said Serina, who works at one of the recruitment consultancy firms, with 20 years of experience in recruiting talents.

Advice from LinkedIn

Over 500 million people are connected to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has the following advice to help members improve their profiles and stand out to recruiters

FIRST, take pride in your online presence and help your ideal employer find you by ensuring your LinkedIn profile is complete and sells you in the best possible way, starting with the language you use.

If you consider yourself a “specialist”, why not show this by tailoring your profile accordingly?

List relevant skills that have been built up through your work experience.

SECONDLY, show character. While the words you choose say a lot about you, it’s also important to strike a professional tone; be assertive and direct when talking about your achievements.

Don’t shy away from adding some personality to your language though ­— this is a great way to show your character.

THIRDLY, words don’t need to do all the talking. Instead of saying you’re “creative”, why not show recruiters by including presentations, video, design work and projects you take pride in?

Remember, in a sea of potential candidates you want to stand out from the crowd; you’ve only got five to ten seconds to impress a potential employer.

FOURTHLY, be active. It’s not just about what’s on your profile, proactive is key when it comes to networking.

Follow organisations that inspire you, or that you’d love to work for, make new connections, join groups and participate in discussions.

This keeps your profile active and shows recruiters that you’re plugged in to what’s happening in your industry.

FIFTHLY, voice your opinion. If you are an “expert” on a given topic, why not tell the world by publishing a post on LinkedIn?

By offering your opinions on industry matters, it demonstrates that you are knowledgeable and well informed.

LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful and transforms the way companies hire, market, and sell.

It has more than 500 million members and has offices around the globe.

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