Can your social media profile and activity actually impede your search and prospects for a job which otherwise matches your skills and experience? Yes, it can. If you are in job search mode or looking for a new career pasture, read on!
In my post How to alienate people & ruin your reputation on Facebook I mentioned that Social Media recruitment was trending and shared a statistic from the 2013 CareerBuilder survey that 51% of employers rejected candidates based on their findings at their social media accounts compared to 34% in 2012.
The Muse for that post was a case in my social circle where constant posting on Facebook of all company events and hot shots met led to what I call ‘a change of job venue’ for the person. I know about discretion while employed but did it hold true for the job hunter?
I started my research – joining discussions on Quora and Yahoo, reading articles on the internet, other surveys and casual chats with friends in the human resource domain. I have concluded that if one is active on social media AND job hunting, then circumspection and care needs to be exercised in updating one’s posts.
Headhunters are checking your social media activity!
Not only potential employers vet you based on your social media activity but also headhunters. The 2014 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey reveals:
94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts
78% of recruiters have made a hire through social media
The survey report details how recruiters have started to use a marketer’s approach to find and cultivate top talent with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter being the social networks of choice. Blogs & Youtube also feature as channels to source talent.
The use of social networks is part of a multi-channel strategy to find leads and nurture them to hire. Recruiters look for professional experience, tenure, hard skills, industry-related voice and cultural fit as part of the hiring process.
LinkedIn remains the king of searching (96%), contacting (94%), vetting (92%) and keeping tab of candidates (93%). Which means, if we are in job search mode or hoping to be discovered, time to make sure our social media profiles are up to par.
How social media impacts a job candidate – bad news
Here’s the bad news, employers do take candidates out of the running for a job if they find content on social media sits that cause a concern about the person – despite the great Curriculum Vitae and other credentials.
The top 3 evidences noted in the CareerBuilder survey were:
- Candidate posted provocative/inappropriate photos/info – 50%
- There was info about candidate drinking or using drugs – 48%
- Candidate bad mouthed previous employer – 33%
Recruiters are placing increasing importance on candidates’ social profiles:
- 42% have reconsidered a candidate based on content viewed in a social profile, leading to both positive & negative re-assessments
- Profanity, and grammar and punctuation errors trigger negative reactions among recruiters over 60% of the time
How social media impacts a job candidate – good news
If you engage on social media platforms like a sensible person instead of using it to vent your spleen or display your exhibitionist alter-ego, your social media profile and activity might just help you get the job interview and even the job!
In the same CareerBuilder survey, 19% employers found information on social media sites that made the job seeking candidate more attractive or convinced them that the decision to make an offer was the correct one.
The top 4 mentions of candidate qualities were
- Conveying a professional image – 57%
- Got a good feel for candidate’s personality – 50%
- Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 50%
- Candidate’s background information supported professional qualifications – 49%
What’s the message for job seekers?
Clearly, employers and recruiters are using social media platforms as a tool in their search and recruitment process. If you are on any social media site, take it as a given that your profile will be viewed and your activity noted, whether you are active or passive in the job search market.
Your online activity can make or break your candidature for a position for which you may be highly suitable based on your Resume.
Remember that the prospective employer does not know you in real life. They can only infer about you from what you are posting.
First impressions count and there is a near zero percent chance that the researcher at the prospective employer’s workplace happened to be at the party or is your best buddy and would understand your online disclosures
It may not be appropriate to delve into a person’s private life to determine whether they should be offered an interview of a job offer but the hard fact is that if you post in the public domain, it becomes public knowledge and affects how others may view you.
I personally feel that social media profiling is an invasion of privacy and this view has much support both in discussions on Yahoo Answers and Quora.
Such profiling activity requires moderation and governance and it is important that companies have a social media recruitment policy to set appropriate boundaries.
Since one cannot apply to a company and ask about their policies or they may not disclose their social media profiling policy on their website, we need to become proactive in protecting out privacy and rights.
Use the right social media platform for your objectives
There is a difference between a personal and professional life and likewise for your social media profiles. It is better to keep your contacts in both separate unless you know the person well enough to connect on both types of social media platforms.
LinkedIn is better suited for professional contacts while Facebook is great for personal contacts. If a prospective employer or recruiter sends a friend request on Facebook and you do not know them, you are not obliged to accept.
I used to get such requests from recruiters and would politely explain that my Facebook friends were people whom I knew over the years and not a platform for networking. I would then redirect them to my LinkedIn profile.
Update the privacy settings of your social media profiles
You may not be able to stop recruiters or potential employers from sending you “friend” requests but you can certainly control what others see. A good idea is to update your privacy settings and account access on all the social media platforms that you engage in to determine what is publicly visible and what is kept private.
Learn to say “no”
You may be in a situation where you really need to find a job but remember, you are not required or obliged to accept friend requests or even share account passwords or any information that is private. If faced with this situation, be assertive and say “No”. Protect your privacy and direct them to a professional profile on LinkedIn.
Mind your manners and status posts on social media
I covered this in detail in my post How to alienate people & ruin your reputation on Facebook. The suggestions in that post apply to any status update on any social media platform.
I’d love to tell you that social media recruiting is a passing fad like wedge heels and bell bottoms, but sadly it is not. Until such time as companies and legislators work out policies and legislation on what constitutes appropriate and lawful social media profiling and what enters the domain of discrimination, you alone can take the steps required to present yourself in the best light and protect your privacy.
You can learn more on creating and expressing your professional brand and maintaining an awesome online presence for professional social media profiling at
Just curious – but have you ever been contacted through your social media profile for a job or received a friend request from a recruiter? Please do share your experience in the comments box below!
Written By: Vatsala Shukla
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