Social media is everywhere. Between Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat there are multiple platforms available for people to vent, make statements, celebrate, and show support for various beliefs, causes, and views. While having the ability to communicate freely and openly with a large global audience is at times excellent, it does come with some very concerning liabilities. This is especially true if you are an active job seeker. A recent survey found that 45 percent of employers admit to checking out candidates on social media, with 76 percent looking at FB, 48 percent viewing LinkedIn, and 53 percent checking out tweets on Twitter.
While these social media searches can help employers avoid headaches, they do have a negative impact on candidates, with one in three employers rejecting candidates based on something they found online. So, what are the red flags employers look for in a candidate’s social media profile?
The Red Flags: What Scares Employers the Most on Social Media
When employers research the social media presence of a candidate, they are looking for material that sets off red flags. Red flags can be divided between personal and professional issues.
With respect to personal concerns, 50 percent of employers will not hire a candidate if they find that a candidate has posted inappropriate content. This could be lewd photos, racist and sexist comments, and politically polarizing material. In addition to inappropriate content, 48 percent of employers will walk away from candidates that post information about their drinking and drug use.
Concerning professional matters, 33 percent of employers look poorly on candidates that bad-mouth previous employers. Furthermore, when candidates lie about their qualifications (especially when falsehoods are unearthed on social media), it can cause 24 percent of employers to end discussions with a candidate.
So, how do job seekers prevent losing their dream job due to distasteful FB pictures or insulting tweets?
Time to Hit the Delete Button? How to Avoid Being Rejected by an Employer-Based on Your Digital Profile
This may seem silly, but when a candidate searches for themselves in a search engine like Google, it can be eye-opening. While most people are aware of what they post about themselves, there are cases where content has been published without their knowledge. While this is rare, it can happen. Though there isn’t much one can do about misleading information posted about themselves, it is best to know what is out there and to be prepared to rebut if necessary. If the material is threatening or violates the law, it is best to turn to law enforcement authorities for assistance.
Review and Sanitize Your Social Media Platforms
After a candidate investigates their digital presence on Google, it is time to get personal, as in reviewing private social media platforms. Scan through all postings and comments even if they are several years old. Be sure to remove all content that could be construed as offensive, inappropriate or polarizing.
After conducting a scrub of your social media footprint, it is best to have a friend or co-worker review your platforms to make sure nothing is missed. Also, if a candidate wants to post personal photos or material that may be bordering on TMI, it is advisable to create private accounts that can only be viewed by a select few (close friends and family members) and can’t be shared. There are several well-known sites that provide such platforms.
Ensure Your Profile Pictures Are Professional
While photos from a candidate’s most recent vacation or posing with their cat, dog, and kids are cute, they aren’t professional, nor do employers want to see them. For example, 57 percent of employers will hire a candidate based on their personal image. Thus, candidates need to use professional-looking profile pictures on their social media platforms, minus Fido, Fluffy or the kiddos.
Candidates should consider investing in profile photos taken by a professional photographer. If a professional photographer is out of reach, a candidate can ask a friend or family member to act as a photographer and take a professional looking photo of them. The best way to ensure a photo has a professional feel is to pick a generic background (such as an office building or a nondescript outdoor space) and for the subject to dress in a suit or nice pants and a shirt.
Use Social Media to Impress Employers
Social media can seem like too big of a headache to deal with, but there are ways social media can enhance a candidate’s impression on a prospective employer. By posting or tweeting about professional accomplishments and industry news, it can demonstrate a candidate’s knowledge and expertise. By building a professional presence on social media, it cements a candidate’s talent and entices employers to want to hire the candidate.
Social media can be a blessing and a curse. For job seekers, social media can be the difference between a job offer or a rejection. Thus, candidates should review their digital presence and sanitize any potentially harmful material. Also, image matters. Job seekers should consider having a professional profile photo taken to ensure they put their best foot forward.
If after completing a social media cleaning, you find yourself wanting to explore new employment opportunities, turn to an expert. At New Era HR Solutions, we help candidates find their dream jobs. Contact our staffing experts today to learn more!