|Do you consider your online presence and your “real life” presence two different things?
If you’re looking for employment, it’s time to reconsider this idea. According to a Harris Poll conducted in 2015, 52% of employers use social media sites to research candidates. Considering that this figure was 43% in 2014 and 35% in 2013, you can bet that by now that number is likely to be far higher — possibly as high as 75%.
And if you’re not on social media, don’t think you’re off the hook: that same poll found that 35% of employers are less likely to interview candidates they couldn’t find on social media.
Did you notice that last paragraph said employers are less likely to interview candidates they couldn’t find on social media? That should tell you just how early in the process employers often research applicants.
A 2012 CareerBuilder survey asked a pool of 2,303 hiring managers and HR professionals about their social media research habits. In that survey:
- 65% of respondents said they research social media networks to see if an applicant presents him/herself professionally.
- 51% wanted to see if the applicant fits into the company culture.
- Another 45% said they wanted to learn more about the applicant’s qualifications.
This same survey also found that 34% of the respondents have found content that has led to their choosing not to hire the candidate. Some of these reasons included inappropriate photos, drinking/drug use, poor communication skills, badmouthing previous employers, discriminatory comments (race, gender, or religion-related), or lies about qualifications.
Hopefully by now you realize that the line between your online presence and your real-life presence no longer exists! Prospective employers can and will make decisions not even about whether to hire you, but whether to interview you at all, based on what you post online.
What can you do? The following are some dos and don’ts for social media posting.
- Post provocative or inappropriate photos. Or at least, if you do (hey, we’re not here to judge), make sure your privacy settings are set to where only a select group of close friends can see them.
- Post content involving drinking or drug use. The latter should be a no-brainer, but many people think nothing of posting about getting “wasted” on a weekend. Again, if you really feel the need to post something like this, tweak your privacy settings.
- Bad-mouth your employer, coworker, or anyone you’ve worked with in the past. Many people use social media to vent about their jobs, but this is a huge turn-off to potential employers.
- Use faulty grammar or spelling. This includes multi-run-on sentences, poor punctuation, confusing one word for another, and so on. Yes, it sounds strange to proofread your posts on social media, but remember who could be reading it.
- Make discriminatory comments about anyone. Not by race, not by gender (that includes by women about men, by the way!), not by religion, not by ethnicity, not by sexual orientation.
- Focus all your attention on removing or hiding questionable content. This is important, of course, and if you do realize you have posted some things you wish you hadn’t, it’s a good idea to make it private or remove it altogether. But don’t simply do this and call it a day. Pay attention to the “Do” list and make sure you’re doing these things as well.
- Pay attention to the biographical details in your profile. Is it polished? Does it look professional? Are you spotlighting your strengths, your experience, your skills, your education?
- Engage in online conversations about your professional interests. This means you’ll want to seek out (if you haven’t already) pages for the kind of work you want to do. Organization, cooking, home renovation, home administration… search these out and start engaging.
- Share content. Follow experts and share their content on your page. Again, this shows what you’re interested in and that you like to keep on top of your industry.
- Create content. Have you completed an organizing project you’re proud of? Made a meal that looked beautiful? These are notable things to share online, and they show that you not only know what you’re doing, but that you take pride in it. (You’ll want to make sure to redact any confidential details, of course.)
Social media is here to stay, and employers’ use of it to sift through applicants is here to stay as well. So use it to your advantage rather than worrying and hiding, and it could help you land that job!