The impact of influencers on job seekers can be damaging

 

The search term “How to create a successful resume” produces 447 million results in 0.57 of a Google second. Careers, the workplace, and job-seeking are a bit like having a life. Everyone usually has been there, done it and is more than willing to share their experiences, regardless of their knowledge level or qualifications. This happens even if they haven’t applied for a job in 20 years or worked in recruitment, sometimes ever. Many also haven’t dipped their toe into the trenches of a corporate environment in living memory!

The rise of social media and rapid communication platforms means that  the impact of influencers on job seekers is now significant and some would say, disproportionate.

The rise of social media and rapid communication platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram means that “Influencers” have massive reach. With rock music playing in the background and zany subtitles flashing across our screens, they can churn out job search tips, at the same time as strutting their stuff or driving their car.  It’s very compelling, but not always accurate. Quite often they are only sharing their opinions which they present as fact.

Influencers on job seekers

Challenge has already started

We live in a world of fake news where high-profile figures spew out misinformation both intentionally and unintentionally and even outright lies. Some of these stories are so noticeably fake that there are even parodies about them. At one time we used to ask “whose opinion is it?” and if the person had the necessary credibility and gravitas, we would probably accept it as being valid. Many of the the latest batch have arrived at their dizzy heights because they are popular and have reach. This is associated with likes, clicks and number of followers and not necessarily with expertise. They are willing to share these view (a lot) as they churn out soundbites with monotonous regularity.

And heaven forbid the use of the “V” word. Viral.

Definition of Viral

According to Urban Dictionary, something that “goes viral” is “an image, video, or link that spreads rapidly through a population by being frequently shared with a number of individuals.”  The approach is very scientific and data-based with clear numbers and a specified time frame. There are a number of controversial factors to consider, including: number of views/shares/links, how many unique users the content has reached, the rate at which the content is consumed, and the lifetime of the content. The numbers are high and the timeframe tight. A general guideline is 40,000 views/shares in the first hour. lt is not your Mum or kids clicking a few times!

Essentially this is a popularity contest and we are selecting “experts” who are super good at social media engagement, which may have no direct connection to the accuracy of their content.

Manipulation

We see so-called “influencers” telling people to put their name and email address into a comment box because recruiters look there! No, we don’t. It is simply a way to add your name to the scheme du jour.

Many make outrageous claims about what they influence and where they rank. Make sure you check out the voracity of any claims.

Others tell tragic stories for clicks and then offer you a special price on their “product.”

Some create uncertainty and feelings of inadequacy as another way of getting people to tap into that  “special” programme.

impact of influencers on job seekers

Opinion not fact

I recently sat down with a returning client to discuss next steps. Let’s call her Chloe. It seemed that Chloe had gone off-plan. We looked into the thinking behind this switch and it transpired that she had started following some individuals on LinkedIn, some influential, others less so and had heeded their advice. Some of their tips were fine, some were dubious and others were just barking mad for this particular individual at this stage in her career. And perhaps even for the population at large. But that’s just my opinion. This post from one particular individual had hundreds of comments, shares and likes, including Chloe’s own little “like.”

She had taken out her CV summary on the say-so of someone on LinkedIn. She stripped her LinkedIn profile down to a bare minimum on the advice of an in-house recruiter at a Big 4 firm.

The advent of social media allows people to send out opinions, to large audiences. They target anyone interested in job search, recruitment and the workplace in general. Very often this commentary is couched in clickbait headlines which confuse the life out of readers.

 

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Factually incorrect

Coming from so-called workplace and professional “Influencers” these nuggets carry additional weight for a very susceptible audience. Influencers have well… influence. Embedded in that role is influencer responsibility. If they stay in their own environment and specialism then it can be fine, but very often there is more than that at play.

I see in my daily stream on social media, provocative headlines presumably to encourage debate or discussions. They frequently include the words always, never, only, must. They come in different forms of sophistication from basic LinkedIn posts, tweet’s with gifs, to hi-tech animated videos, the aforementioned TikTok dance moves.

Today I watched one such offering which suggested that we should never use the word “strategic”  in our job search and described adverbs as potential “red flags” to recruiters. In more than 20 years in the business, I can honestly say, I have NEVER, ever seen a raised eyebrow, heard a comment or encountered anyone being cut from a process for either. Can you imagine:

Hmmmm….This candidate uses the words “successfully and strategic” on LinkedIn – probably dodgy.

And look….. they have a CV summary – clearly behind the times.  Let’s move on.”

It just doesn’t happen. Ever.

Nuance is unpopular

The person posting gets what Simon Sinek describes as the device addicted age dopamine hit of “likes” “shares” and increased followers. And what’s not to like about that? We all welcome an endorsement. The fact remains that being a cultural leader and influencer is a stand-alone profession these days. It requires a lot of work and energy and comes with a high level of influencer responsibility, which is sometimes not exercised correctly. Frequently the activity is sub-contracted to a social media agency.

So although it goes against the grain for social media marketing to express a situation as heaven forbid being nuanced  – maybe it’s now time for influencers to focus on their own field, and when they don’t, stop citing opinion as fact. The impact of Influencers on job seekers is huge and can be damaging especially to more vulnerable job seekers.

 

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Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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