Looking for a job? You should reconsider posting a political rant online. Some 70% of employers screen candidates' social media accounts—an all-time high, according to the latest CareerBuilder study. More than half of employers (54%) said they choose not to hire candidates based on what they find on social media pages, said the study.
Many people consider social media accounts to be personal or private, which is fair. However, if you are applying to a job, you are applying to represent that company. In the professional world, you must maintain a professional image, which starts with social media.
SEE: Policy pack: Guidelines for new hires (Tech Pro Research)
"It's [your] freedom to go and speak however [you'd] like on [your] social media account, but it's also the hiring manager's freedom to not hire you for that conversation you wanted to share online. It's just all about reputation," said Priscilla Vento, CEO of 30 Miles North PR and social media agency. "Now, you don't need to meet somebody in person to form an opinion. You can literally just go on their social media account. If you feel strongly about your freedom to post what you want, then you need to know that other people might not read you the way that you want to be read."
Even if you think you're safe because you set your accounts to private, think again: Vento said that while keeping an Instagram account private is understandable, businesses expect to see public Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to learn more about you as a candidate
Social media can also work in your benefit, however, during the hiring process. Companies notice the bad things you post, but they also pay attention to the positive. Employers like seeing that you are interested in the job you are applying for, said Vento. She used the example of Blockchain: If you're trying to work for a Blockchain company or startup, then post industry-related content.
The hiring process is about making yourself marketable and putting your best foot forward, said Carolyn Betts Fleming, CEO and founder of Betts Recruiting. Presenting yourself in a flattering light is easy, but that can change with just one post.
Here are the five social media mistakes that could cost you a job offer.
1. Inappropriate posts
While this may seem obvious, young people in particular sometimes don't know where to draw the line. Vento recommended not posting party pictures or political rants on social media.
"Especially when you're trying to find a new job, keep it clean," Vento said. "You don't want to position yourself as a partier, going out and getting wasted all the time. It's just not as accepted as you might think it is with hiring managers."
As for politics, prospective employees are free to have their individual beliefs—just keep them offline. "If the hiring manager feels really strongly about the Trump administration either way, and you feel strongly about it in another way, you don't want to offer any reason for someone to put a seed in their head that they might not get along with you," Vento said.
2. Posting too much
Having a social media presence is important, as it gives hiring managers quick insight into your personality. However, avoid posting too much. As the head of a recruiting agency, Betts said that over-posting on social media is a huge red flag to recruiters.
A person who posts their every move, opinion, or feeling on social media sets the precedent that their life revolves around their profile. In the eyes of a hiring manager, if the candidate is constantly on social media out of the office, then that distraction probably carries into the office as well, said Betts.
Therefore, try to post at a healthy, moderate pace, she added.
3. Not having a social media presence
On the opposite end of the spectrum, not having a social media presence can look just as bad to prospective employers. Professionals must have a LinkedIn account, Betts said. Additionally, that account should be filled out with a professional picture and previous job descriptions. Hiring managers consider the lack of either to be a red flag, said Betts.
Every hiring manager is different, but most agree that some form of a social media account is helpful and necessary when considering a candidate for jobs. Public social media accounts, like Twitter, are easy and quick ways to learn about a person outside of interviews, said Vento. Oftentimes, Vento said she uses social media to see if a candidate will fit in well with office culture, which can often be gleaned by how they act online.
Watch your slang usage, especially if you are applying for a job that involves writing. Vento recommended crafting comments and posts in complete sentences and without too many abbreviations, to maintain a professional demeanor.
While social media is meant to be a quick mode of communication, keep sentences full and sound during your job search. Abbreviations, misspellings, and slang can make a candidate appear as if they cut corners or write lazily, which can be a huge disservice to the candidate depending on the job they are applying for.
Don't lie on social media, or about your social media accounts, Vento recommended. Jobs intrinsically rely on trust—trust that you'll do your work, meet deadlines, and communicate effectively. If you put false information about yourself or others on social media, then you ruin your credibility.
Another big problem is when candidates lie about having a social media account at all. Many applicants claim they don't have social media accounts—when in reality, they do—because they don't want employers seeing what they post, said Vento. Candidates might slightly alter their names, or only use their first and middle names on accounts. "Even if it's hidden, you can still find it if you really try hard enough," said Vento. Don't put yourself in a position, under any circumstances to get caught in a lie; that's a quick way for your application to get thrown out.
- Hiring kit: Chief diversity officer (TechRepublic)
- Do we know where to draw the line with co-workers on social media? (ZDNet)
- Facebook data privacy scandal: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Perception and social media (ZDNet)
- 5 social media mistakes that could kill your business (TechRepublic)
Macy Bayern has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.