Can your social media profile harm your job seeking prospects?

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Can your social media profile harm your job seeking prospects?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn: How active are you on social media and more importantly, how active is your boss, or a potential employer? Social media has unarguably become a central part of most people’s lives. Often, checking their feeds is the very first thing people will do in the morning, and one of the last things they do at night.

A large (2300 people plus) survey was recently conducted by website CareerBuilder.com asking the question, “How and why do you incorporate social media into your hiring process?” The survey was aimed at hiring managers and HR professionals, those who are the gatekeepers for organisations that might award you the job, or the promotion of your dreams.

The survey found that more than a third (37%) of these professionals accessed the social media profiles of candidates they were considering hiring, or forwarding on for further assessment to upper management staff. In effect, they were assessing your character, personality and “culture fit” for their organisation, in almost two out of three cases.

The good news is, unlike career advice five years ago, no one is suggesting that you are not supposed to have any active social media accounts, quite the opposite, in fact. For many roles, having a social media presence and knowledge base can be an asset, particularly in roles in marketing, digital strategy, graphics, web design and even creative fields, community environments or trades.

What posts on social media cause hiring managers to look you over for a position?

According to the survey, 34% of potential candidates were looked over by hiring managers for the same batch of reasons. Here are the 6 biggest things to look out for.

#1: Inappropriate or risqué photos

50% of employers said they didn’t offer a job candidate the position due to photos that appeared on their profile, such as “sexy selfies”, nights out at the club and other inappropriate content.

#2: Party lifestyle: drinking or drug taking

45% of hiring managers indicated that a candidate was not hired said they chose not to hire “because of evidence of drinking and/or drug use on his or her social profiles.”

#3: Lack of communication skills required

A few employers mentioned that many people displayed bad writing skills, terrible grammar and lack of editing and proofreading skills; vital for success in many roles.

#4: Burning bridges

In some cases, the potential candidate “bad mouthed previous employers”, which is never an encouraging signal to someone who might be considering giving you a job.

#5: Too political

Due to increasing political sensitivities across the globe, it’s probably not the best idea to make controversial comments related to race, gender, politics or religion. Play it safe.

#6: Resume “fluffing”

If you’ve lied about qualifications, this might be apparent from your social media feeds. Check your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to make sure your current, accurate experience is reflected.

How popular is social media today?

Social media continues to grow in popularity. Today, Facebook Australia has 15 million users, YouTube has had 14.5 million unique views, Instagram has 5 million monthly active Australian users (Facebook/ Instagram data) & Tinder now has approximately 2 million users, and growing.

According to a Sensis Social Media Report (2016), 30% of ‘large’ Australian businesses spend 10%+ of their advertising budget on social media. 19% spend more than 50% of their advertising budget on social media and nearly half of Australian businesses will spend more on social media in the next 12 months.

What hiring managers think about your social media activity

Rosemary Haefner is the vice president of CareerBuilder and she has seen social media mistakes again and again in her career.

“If you choose to share content publicly on social media, make sure it’s working to your advantage and take down or secure anything that could potentially be viewed by an employer as unprofessional.”

The expert suggests to share content, “that highlights your accomplishments and qualifications in a positive way,” and to avoid anything that might be perceived in a negative light.

“36% of employers who screen via social networks have requested to ‘be a friend’ or follow candidates who have private accounts,” Haefner points out. “Of that group, 68% say they’ve been granted permission – down from 80% last year.”

“Depending on what hiring managers find, candidates’ online information can help or hurt their odds of getting a job. 49% percent of hiring managers who screen candidates via social networks said they’ve found information that caused them not to hire a candidate,” which was almost equal to the figures from the year before (48%).

7 top things to address on your social media feeds before you search for a job

  1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile and/or online resume is up to date and relevant to the career roles you’re currently scoping for.
  1. Make sure you do an audit of your social media pictures and images regularly.
  1. Make sure your contact details are up to date.
  1. Include any charities or community groups you support or have done volunteer work with.
  1. Check your privacy settings. Make profiles “public” only when you’ve done a content and image audit.
  1. Don’t give everything away. Only list your age and location if you feel it is necessary to do so and if it benefits your job search.
  1. Don’t comment or like controversial posts, e.g. political rants. If in doubt – “don’t”.

Ready to kick-start your career?

Getting back into the workforce or changing job roles can always feel a bit daunting but with the right tools and support network, you’ll be working in your dream role in next to no time. Follow the 7 steps above to clean up your social media profiles and give hiring managers no excuses to look your resume and experience over for the next candidate.