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We asked Hays Canada: How can Canadian job seekers optimize their digital presence?

We connected with Soley Soucie, Director, Eastern Region at Hays Canada, to see how recruiters go about searching for a candidate online.
By Erin Hutchison
Content Marketing and Social Media Specialist

Working for the organization that manages the .CA domain name registry, we’ve identified that many Canadians have their own personal websites (that is, Job seekers, consultants and freelancers alike know the importance of establishing a strong online presence to let others learn more about them and their skills and to grow their networks.

We wanted to know more about what recruiters look for in an online presence –to get the perspective of a recruiter to understand what exactly they look for when filling a position. What do they look for online? What kinds of things do they not want to see? Soley Soucie, Director, Eastern Region at Hays Canada answered some of our burning questions on the topic.

Soley oversees two offices in one of Hays Canada’s fastest growing regions and has been a recruiting professional with Hays since 2005. With her in-depth market knowledge of Ottawa and Montreal, and specific expertise in accounting and finance, IT, and construction sectors, Soley was able to provide some valuable insight for Canadian job seekers.

Does the importance of building an online presence depend on the industry you’re working in? For example, is it more imperative for web developers to have their own website, communications professionals to have a strong public social media presence, etc.?

If you work in digital technology, marketing, web development or design, then employers may be assessing your web presence as part of the screening process. I think it is more important for some functions than others, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore social media if you work in construction, for example. I would encourage every Canadian professional to search for themselves and see what comes up. You want your online presence to be consistent, professional, and appropriate to the type of industry you’re in.

Do you see more people including their LinkedIn profile or personal website URL on their resumes?

Occasionally I see web addresses or LinkedIn URLs on resumes but it’s not very common. Web developers and designers may include links as part of their portfolio, but overall I don’t think this is a trend yet. That doesn’t mean that it won’t become more common, and if you have a common name or a specific reason to drive someone to your website such as a portfolio then including it could help employers get the information they want.

Do you pay attention to what email addresses people apply to jobs with?

I would encourage everyone to have a professional email address. Anything that is not your name, or has excessive numbers in it looks unprofessional and could be off-putting to hiring managers.

LinkedIn is no doubt the number one platform for recruiters to connect with candidates. What do other platforms give insight on a candidate (perhaps some field-specific ones)?

Your presence on other social media is usually not a deal-breaker, although if you want to work in social media then having a well-curated social presence is valuable. However, we do hear stories about employers Googling candidates and finding inappropriate pictures or offensive tweets, which will definitely affect their opinion of you. Again, I recommend Googling yourself and looking at what comes up. If you wouldn’t want your boss to see it then make it private or delete it.

How important is it to strategically choose keywords to include on your resume, LinkedIn and/or website?

This is critical. A lot of employers are utilizing resume screening software that looks for keywords and phrases, so optimizing your resume is crucial. Tailor your resume to the job ad and think about the most common descriptions for your skills and experience. On top of that, many employers are now using LinkedIn to search for candidates with the right skills and experience. The key is to optimize your profile so you’re actually found. Make sure you use lots of keywords from your specialism or area of expertise that will make you come up on the first page in a search result.

Unusual job titles can be a killer. If your title is “Digital Dynamo” consider including in brackets a more common title, such as Website Manager.

According to a 2015 Workopolis report that surveyed Canadian employers, 63% of employers look up potential candidates online and through social media. Is this statistic actually higher? Do recruiters investigate everyone’s online presence now or does it depend on the client?

I would say we look for almost every candidate on LinkedIn, but rarely beyond that unless it is requested, or we see red flags such as inconsistency between resume and LinkedIn profile. Candidates should ensure that they are offering a consistent story from digital to print to in person. Your print resume should be more targeted and only focus on the key aspects of your experiences that relate to this specific role. Online you can showcase your experiences holistically – this is where you can paint the full picture.

At what stage of the hiring process can a candidate expect to be sought out online? Do recruiters initiate contact with potential candidates, do they do a search before calling for an interview or afterwards as a part of the final decision?

It can happen at any stage in the process. Depending on the role, you may find your profile being reviewed during the resume screening, or ahead of a phone or in-person interview. In some cases a recruiter may be searching for potential candidates so you might not even have applied for a job before your profile is viewed. I suggest scheduling regular time to review and update your profile. For example, you might add a calendar reminder every three months to make sure you’re showing up in search results and have the most recent and accurate information available.

What are a couple of examples of stellar websites or creative job applications that you’ve seen?

I’ve seen some great website resumes from web developers and designers, demonstrating their abilities. Another example is when Shopify was looking for video applications instead of standard cover letters and CVs, which really pushed applicants to be very creative and engaging. However, I’d encourage job seekers to make sure that their application is still easy to read and appropriate to the role. If you’re making it harder for a recruiter or hiring manager to find the right information then you’re likely having the opposite impact that you were hoping for. Creativity is important, but it shouldn’t outweigh user experience. Think about the end user, which is the hiring manager.

What are some of the common red flags you see online that would automatically disqualify a candidate?

Privacy settings are a candidates’ best friend. Most employers don’t mind what you do in your personal time, but having inappropriate photos or updates visible publically can be seen as a reflection of your judgement. Messages or photos that imply illegal behaviour in particular is something to be mindful of.

An individual’s digital footprint is just a window into their personality and experience. Also, not everything you read online is true. How do recruiters address this challenge? Do you think recruiters can/ should take what they find out online with a grain of salt?

For recruiters in general LinkedIn and other social media is in addition to traditional screening methods, not instead of. There can be misleading information, both positive and negative, but this is just one part of the information we get so we’re trying to balance all that information to create a big picture view of a candidate. That’s one reason I’d encourage people to be familiar with what will come up in a search about them because then you can take action about anything negative. A recruiter may not discount all information online, but we’re not going to make a decision based on just one source.

Is there something that recruiters wished that more job seekers did?

The number one tip I would give is to look at quality over quantity. The first page of your resume should get the recruiter or hiring manager all the information about you that they need. A lot of job seekers have very wordy resumes, but they’re missing key details. Don’t make us work hard for the information we need. Include specific numbers and metrics – the months you worked at a job, your key accomplishments – and avoid long paragraphs that don’t give the right information. Quantify your skills and successes. Again, think about the end user. What information is the recruiter or hiring manager looking for and how can you make it easy for them to find?

Any final tips for job seekers in Canada on building and maintaining an online presence?

To really stand out go beyond just managing your presence, and be proactive about interacting with the employers and brands you want to work with. You want employers to notice you and to recognize the value of your network and expertise. Connect online with target employers or influencers that would be valuable to your network and progression, and follow the brands of the target organizations and recruitment agencies. Engage with their content. For example at Hays we do notice when candidates have a voice, when they engage and comment on our content or request more information.

Thanks to Soley over at Hays Canada, now you have a better idea of what recruiters are looking for when they’re searching for the right person to fill a position.

If you’re feeling motivated and ready to spruce up your online presence and stand out to employers, create your own personal website starting with searching for a domain name below.

A .CA domain declares your business is proudly Canadian

About the author
Erin Hutchison

Erin brings to CIRA a background of marketing experience in higher education and the not-for-profit sector. In 2015, she participated in ISOC’s Youth@IGF Programme and traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to attend the IGF. She has a Bachelor of International Business from Carleton University.