Why contractors should check out clients on social media, not just the other way around.
Much has been written in the past about how limited company contractors, freelancers and other self-employed individuals should conduct themselves online, as more and more companies look up candidates' social media profiles before awarding contracts to them.
But according to research recently carried out by Digimax, this social media snooping is being turned on its head, to the advantage of contractors.
Why it can pay for contractors to look up clients
Digimax found that almost one-quarter (22 per cent) of individuals seeking work will look up a prospective client via social media before signing on the dotted line to work with them.
Some 24 per cent of survey respondents said they did this in order to find common interests to discuss in an interview so that they could get off on a positive foot, while 18 per cent wanted an insight into their interviewer's experience and career history.
Meanwhile, just under half (48 per cent) of those questioned reported looking up companies on LinkedIn in general preparation for working together, with more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of candidates in total using social media as part of their search process.
Women were found to be more likely to snoop on potential clients online than men, with females accounting for 61 per cent of all those who admitted to checking out clients in advance.
However, clients may not realise that they are opening themselves up to this potential snooping, as 21 per cent of businesses admitted to not adjusting their professional social media accounts' privacy settings for as long as they could remember.
Shaz Memon, Creative Director of Digimax, commented: "It's interesting to see all the different ways in which social media is now being used in and around employment practices. Not so long ago, Facebook and Twitter were only really considered tools for employers looking to get the lowdown on their candidates, but now the tables are turning."
"It's really encouraging to see that people are learning lessons and protecting themselves against potential discrimination by ensuring that their privacy settings are up to scratch. Now, it seems that employers need to do the same."
Of course, it still works the other way around too, with clients looking up contractors on social media channels before agreeing to work with them. With this in mind, here's a recap of contractor best practice online.
How contractors should present themselves on social media
- Try to appear as professional as possible
- Create separate private profiles for your personal use if you don't want to mix work and leisure
- Make sure there is no way that prospective clients can see photos where you appear to be drunk or are behaving in a hugely unprofessional manner
- Check spelling, grammar and punctuation is used properly. If you're unsure, ask someone to proofread your posts
- Never badmouth clients or your job online. New clients are unlikely to want to work with you if you don't seem to enjoy your work
- Have easily accessible links to examples of your work that showcase your talents and skills
- Ensure your contact details can be easily found on your profiles. If you don't want to list your personal number and email address, set up specific professional ones