Social Media in the Professional World

Social Media in the Professional World

Social Media in the Professional World

Originally published on Jan 1, 2014. [ ] Denotes current updates to the piece by the author

The overarching theme of this quarter’s newsletter is making the most of your professional interactions, be they in-person or online. As someone who spends most all of my time navigating social networking sites, I feel obligated to inform you that this type of new media is not going away any time soon. In fact, social media has become the No. 1 activity that people partake in on the Web…period.

When I was at university, my peers and I would often open up a browser to begin doing research for a paper but quickly noticed we were clicking through someone’s photos on Facebook instead. For many, this phenomenon is practically muscle-memory and synonymous with “being on the Internet.”

How then, can you use this public forum to help — not hinder — your Actuarial career?


Make your LinkedIn profile as impressive as possible. Even if you do not use it frequently, it is still important to have a professional digital footprint (i.e., an online representation of yourself that does not involve your personal life). At a recent social media seminar I learned that: with a LinkedIn profile at the 100% “completeness” level, you can get 40% more networking and business opportunities. [ This percent still holds true according to the LinkedIn website in 2017 ]

Even if you plan to stay with your current company for the foreseeable future, it is important to recognize the value of networking, a lot of which is now happening online.

  • Choose a flattering photo of yourself. Avoid distracting, unprofessional background clutter. A headshot or torso-and-up shot is best. Smile.
  • List your current position and company in your LinkedIn profile heading. Include appropriate designations.
  • In general, keep it to-the-point. If a hiring professional only spends an average of six seconds reviewing each resume they receive, you can imagine that a fairly comparable amount of time might be spent on your LinkedIn profile as well.
  • Note that part of being “professional” means always using proper grammar and spelling along with consistent formatting, even online.
  • In the Summary section, you should include the following, based on where you are at in your Actuarial career:

Entry-Level Professionals:

  • Exams passed and level of education
  • Actuarial internships
  • Relevant technical skills: Excel, Access, SQL, etc.
  • Short-/Long-term goals or areas of interest

Mid-Senior Professionals:

  • Include relevant designations in the headline section of your profile or after your name
  • Provide a summary of your career highlights
  • Make sure dates and promotions are included too

What should be included in the Work and Education sections of your profile?

Quite simply, the same experience and education that is included in your paper resume. Do not add a summer job you had years ago on LinkedIn just because there is space to do so. It can look odd to hiring professionals if the experience in your profile does not match up with what is listed on your resume. Consistency is key. Describe a bit about the work you did at each organization you have been affiliated with. At any experience level, you can present the suggested information in a paragraph or bulleted form, the key being that it is clean-looking and easily readable.

Consider This…

  • Americans spend an average of 37 minutes daily on social media, longer than any other major Internet activity, including email.
  • 25% of Facebook users don’t bother with privacy settings.
  • Every second, two new members join LinkedIn.

  [ Additional stats from 2016-2017 ]

  • Internet users have an average of 5.54 social media accounts
  • 50 million businesses use Facebook Pages.
  • Twitter has 313 million monthly active users.
  • Of those, 82% are active users on mobile.
  • Since the original article was written, Instagram has exploded in usage and become a leading player – 400 million active monthly users.
  • Instagram also has the highest per follower engagement rate of any of the major social networks at 2.3%.
  • 46% of social media users said that all of their profiles are set to private, so that people they don’t know cannot search for them or see all of their information


In addition to a professional online presence via LinkedIn, you may well maintain additional social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). This is all fine and well, the key being that content and privacy settings are managed appropriately. Consider any such accounts, along with the following:If you think you may have questionable content on your personal social media pages, remove the content and/or deactivate your accounts during the job search process. Remember that usually, the world can still see your profile picture, even if your privacy settings are moderate. Make sure this one photo is presentable to all audiences. It helps to put yourself in a hiring professional’s shoes and think, “How would I perceive this candidate as a professional if I saw this profile?” As most know (and fear), once we put something into the digital space, it never really “goes away.” That being said, err on the safe side when it comes to the things you say and post online at all times, in the event that an employer or potential employer searches your name. With programs like the Snipping Tool and the Print Screen function on a keyboard, even if you take something negative down, it is always possible that a hiring manager or potential boss has already seen it and has even been able to save it. From time to time, social websites will alter elements of their privacy settings, requiring you to stay informed. They are obligated to notify you when rules and guidelines have been changed. However, if you are not a regular email checker, I recommend reviewing these privacy policies and settings for your accounts sporadically just to be sure your image has not been compromised.

[ Do employers look at a potential and/or current hire’s social media accounts? ]

Take a look at the stats below:

  • 60% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates and the number continues to grow.
  • In the professional and business services industry: 55% of employers look at profiles.
  • Financial services industry: 61%.
  • Healthcare industry: 59%.
  • More than a quarter of employers have found content online that has caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.

[ Remember that social media apps and sites change their privacy policies from time to time. Even if you think you are protected, check on your settings every few months and even more often if you are actively applying for new positions.

In addition, while employers may look at social media when vetting candidates, remember that you as a job seeker have the power to look them up too! If you’re about to have a call with a hiring manager, it’s always advised to take a look at their SM profiles, be it LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. You will go into an interview more confidently if you can get a glimpse of the interviewer’s career background and what their interests are. A candidate being able to speak on a shared interest or thoughtfully inquire about the interviewer’s professional background (s) is always a notable quality. ]

Today is the day to start thinking about your online presence as an Actuarial professional. If you are already active in the digital space, please join the conversation…

Twitter: @dwsimpson    



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