Did you ever wonder how your social media profile could be helping or hindering your job search?
Though it can be a little unnerving to think about, your online activity may not be as private as you think. And just as we google celebrities and our friend’s new boyfriends, at some point during the hiring process it seems recruiters sit down and Google their prospective candidates. In fact, a recent survey carried out by Career Monkey found that 37% of employers use social networks to screen potential job candidates.
Career Monkey also asked employers why they look at social networks to research candidates, and a whopping 65% said that they do it to see if they job seeker presents themselves in a professional manner. In addition to this, 51% said they wanted to learn if their candidate would be a good fit for their organisational culture, and a further 45% said they might like to learn something about the job seeker’s qualifications.
So before we go any further, think about what an employer would see if they found their way onto your Facebook profile, Twitter or Instagram. Would they see pictures of a professional person that they would be proud to have on their team?
Now we’re on to the important, and slightly worrying part, the survey found that 34% of employers who used social media profiles to screen candidates had found some content that caused them not to hire that candidate.
For a little more detail on this, 45% said that they chose not to hire someone because of evidence of drinking or drug use on their social profiles. Other reasons include because they had displayed poor communication skills, made discriminatory comments or had bad mouthed previous employers.
So there is a lot to get wrong it seems. But don’t take our word for it, we spoke with Naomi Hanley, an Associate Director at international recruitment giant Hudson for her take on the subject, “We check all our candidates Facebook and LinkedIn profiles prior to interviewing or sending across to a client. Facebook accounts can definitely hinder candidates looking for opportunities. Our clients are now getting more savvy around this, it’s important to be not too expressive on your page.”
Yet while there is a lot of harm that can be done, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid social media altogether.
Employers want to hire people that they would like to spend time with. So before you start closing your accounts, here are a few tips for getting it right.
- Find balance. There is nothing wrong with going out and partying and there is nothing wrong with putting photos of big nights up online. But, if those are the only photos that you have, then can you blame an employer for thinking that is all you do? Don’t forget to include your other hobbies and activities, time spent with your family, sports, vacations you’ve been on and cultural institutions you’ve visited. What employers are really look for are people who live interested and balanced lives.
- Work on your LinkedIn account. Twitter is not the place for posting your Microsoft Office skills, and Facebook is not the place for telling everyone that you’re highly skilled on SAP. But LinkedIn absolutely is. In fact, LinkedIn is pretty much designed for people to go on and brag about their past career achievements, plus you can apply for jobs quickly and efficiently using your profile. If you’re not on LinkedIn and you’re looking for a job, it is well worth checking out. “ LinkedIn is an important part of your search,” says Hanley, “Make sure you have the same information on LinkedIn as your resume as it is often referred back to.”
- Don’t be invisible. It’s tempting to think that you’re safer without social media, but this too could be incredibly harmful. Remember that employers are looking for colleagues, and they want to hire interesting people who are fun to spend time with. If they search for you and find absolutely no trace of you, and then the next candidate is all over social media posting about interesting causes, travelling to exciting places and taking part in exciting activities, which person do you think they would want to hire? Get on and engage.
- Be genuine. As usual honesty is the best policy. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate or lie to make yourself more interesting. You are interesting, even if you don’t think so. Being exciting on social media isn’t all about jet ski selfies or bungee jumps. Someone is exciting when they’re passionate about something, and whether that is baking cupcakes or grooming dogs, if they’re passionate about it, it is hard not to admire. Be yourself, and trust that your passion and personality will shine through without lies or exaggerations.
If you’re job search is dragging on, or you’re struggling to break through, then type your name in to Google, have a look at the person who appears and ask yourself honestly, would you hire that person?