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CV writing

Boost your chances of securing a job by enhancing your online CV

Perhaps you’ve set up a LinkedIn account and have no idea what to use it for. Maybe you have a Twitter profile and only use it to tweet photographs of your dinner. This article explains how you can use social media to your professional advantage — boosting your chances of being spotted by an employer and getting a job offer.

Social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can help you secure a job by improving your curriculum vitae (CV) online

Source: dolphfyn /

Social media is becoming a more valuable part of the recruitment process

You have spent days perfecting your CV, making sure your work history is up to date and priming your referees. Your cover letter is well researched and professional. It seems you have done all you can to secure your next role — however, there may be another way you can be noticed by an employer.

The microblogging platform, Twitter, shares the example of Charlie Loyd, who developed his own way to make maps from satellite imagery. He tweeted a sample of his work to five mapping companies — @MapBox replied within three minutes and, ultimately, offered him a job. Although not directly relevant to the pharmacy profession, this example demonstrates the growing value of social media in recruitment — both to the employer and the jobseeker.

“Social media can be a method of identifying potential candidates, prior to and during the recruitment process,” says Tony Moss, managing director of healthcare recruiting company Your World Healthcare. “Social media gives us a pool of industry contacts who we are able to inform of positions, vacancies and developments in their chosen company.”

David Kidder, recruitment manager at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), agrees. He regularly uses online professional network LinkedIn to look for potential candidates for vacancies. “It’s something we try to do as much as possible,” he says. “From an organisational perspective, it saves us money”.

LinkedIn launched in 2003 and has since acquired more than 300 million users worldwide. It is designed to allow users to upload personal information about their work experience and qualifications — essentially, an online CV. Additionally, LinkedIn users can join special interest groups, read and post business-orientated articles and connect with other users and endorse their skills.

“I can search for skills or job titles,” says Kidder. “I can then send a blanket template email, trying to make it as personal as possible, as if I’m only sending it to one person.” Although there are similar social networks available, such as VisualCV, Kidder says he usually concentrates on LinkedIn, because others have “not really hit the mark”.

Pharmacist and LinkedIn user Ryan Hamilton says that, although he has never been contacted about a job on the website, people have got in touch with him with other opportunities. “I have been invited to comment on various articles via LinkedIn and have also been contacted about being involved in a major pharmacy project. Individuals have also contacted me to get the contact details of someone else, or ask if I know someone suitable for a certain task,” he says.

“If you want to have an online CV then LinkedIn can be a good start and you’ll be surprised at how many people you will already know,” says Hamilton. He believes that “it’s beneficial for pharmacists, especially those in their foundation years, to have an online presence of some sort. Recruiters are now looking on social networks so having a positive online presence can only be a good thing.”

Whether or not a recruiter checks a job applicant’s online profile depends on the position that the individual has applied for and the recruiter itself, Kidder explains, adding that an employer will certainly look for candidates on LinkedIn who are applying for marketing or communication roles. “It’s not always me,” he says, “I would expect the line managers to be doing it, just as part of the research on who they are going to see for an interview and how they are putting themselves across. I’d be interested to know why [someone didn’t have a profile]. I’d probably ask in an interview.”

What makes a good LinkedIn profile

Although Kidder says he would not view a candidate negatively if they did not have a profile on LinkedIn, he sees it as a bonus if someone has put time and effort into one. A strong LinkedIn profile “should be quick and easy to read and it should tell you about achievements”, he emphasises. For pharmacists with obscure job titles, or who have unusual qualifications, he suggests adding some clarification about what they actually do. In addition, as on a paper CV, pharmacists should ensure that they have a complete work history from university onwards.

Kidder explains that a LinkedIn profile functions as both an online CV and a cover letter, so pharmacists who are actively looking for work should mention the roles they are interested in. For those interested in niche positions, Moss recommends including key phrases commonly used in the job vacancy advertisements. “For example, if an employer is looking for someone to work in an acute pharmacy setting and in a CV it says ‘acute pharmacy setting’, it is more likely to stand out,” he says.

LinkedIn also allows users to list their skills, which their contacts can then endorse. “Recommendations are always key. If an individual is an active LinkedIn user, he or she should have recommendations,” says Moss. He notes that, although in general pharmacy professionals are not yet that active on LinkedIn and therefore should not be judged on their profiles alone, references are particularly important in pharmacy recruitment. “Unusually, we find that pharmacy recruitment is driven by references. If you have someone with outstanding references, they are likely to stand a much better chance,” he says.

Kidder agrees, but is cautious when looking at endorsements on LinkedIn because anyone can just click a button to endorse someone else’s skills. “That’s just a joke feature, it cheapens it for me. But if there are actually some good testimonials from every employer, that’s definitely of interest,” he says. Because of this capability for interaction on LinkedIn, Kidder warns users not to exaggerate skills or achievements, “because if I’m exaggerating and my former manager sees this, they can actually comment on it, so it needs to be factual”.

Social media users should also be aware that whatever they post is public and remains available for potential employers to see, says Kidder. For example, when candidates speak negatively about former employers, “it certainly puts you off because you don’t want people talking about your organisation in that way”, he explains. Additionally, those who put their telephone numbers on public profiles should be aware that this is an invitation for recruiters to call them. “It seems obvious to me, but people are often very surprised when I ring them,” he says.

Moss adds that a poorly formatted CV, online or in print, can make it look undesirable. “A successful CV is like a good book — it’s easy to read, easily understood and enables a potential employer to visualise a candidate,” he says.

Facebook, Twitter and beyond

Although LinkedIn is the main network used by recruiters, other social networks can also be used professionally. “Twitter can show people that you are passionate and active within the pharmacy profession. It is also a great place to showcase your other passions and interests,” explains Hamilton, who says he is a firm believer of having a personality on social media because “there is more to a pharmacist than pharmacy”.

Kidder says that he occasionally looks at a candidate’s Twitter profile, usually if they have signposted to it in their CV. “As long as [Twitter] is done professionally, it’s fine,” he says, “there’s nothing wrong with it being light-hearted.” Pharmacists who decide to highlight their Twitter account should ensure that they have more than a handful of followers, he adds.

Twitter, which has 241 million monthly active users, can be also be useful in other ways. “It gives me real time updates from professional bodies, journals, and the wider pharmacy and science communities,” says Hamilton. “A number of pharmacists are starting to promote jobs on Twitter and having online discussions with these individuals has made it much easier to send them a message asking for more information about the role.”

Blogging is an attractive activity for many pharmacists, Hamilton points out, but it takes time, effort and determination to have a regular blog that encourages people to leave comments and get involved. “If you’re not sure you can commit to regular posts then it could be worth considering writing one-off blogs for someone else’s blog or even on larger science, healthcare or academic websites,” he says.

At Your World Healthcare, recruiters may ask permission from a candidate to view his or her Facebook profile, because it can give an overview into an individual’s life, character and potential. However, a recruiter would never view a profile without consent, and many Facebook profiles are closed to public viewing anyway.

Kidder believes pharmacists have no need to worry about old photographs or comments on Facebook: “I would never look at someone’s Facebook profile.”

The RPS has published social media guidance, which Hamilton recommends: “There are a number of helpful documents and presentations about how to get the most from social media — especially for those who are new to it.”

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2014.20067060

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