Admit it. When you’re perusing people’s profiles on Facebook and other social networking websites, you sometimes judge them. “Bob is always partying.” “All Karen does is post pictures of her cats.” “Henry’s status updates are so annoying.”
Well guess what, prospective employers are doing the same thing to you. They’re checking out your social media profiles, and if they see something they don’t like, it may end up costing you a job. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 39 percent of hiring managers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 37 percent last year. Forty-three percent of those hiring managers say they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate, up 9 percentage points from 2012.
The content that condemns
If you’re worried about what kind of message your profiles could be sending employers, you should know what turns employers off the most. According to the survey, employers took candidates out of the running based on a variety of concerning content, including:
- Candidate posted provocative/inappropriate photos/information — 50 percent
- There was information about candidate drinking or using drugs — 48 percent
- Candidate bad mouthed previous employer — 33 percent
- Candidate had poor communication skills — 30 percent
- Candidate made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc. — 28 percent
- Candidate lied about qualifications — 24 percent
When your profile props you up
Before you run to your computer and remove yourself from every social networking site you’re on, keep in mind that your online presence can positively impact your job prospects too. If what you have on your pages is attractive to employers, it may help solidify their decision to hire you. Nineteen percent of hiring managers say they found something that has caused them to extend a job offer. Top mentions include:
- Candidate conveyed a professional image — 57 percent
- Got a good feel for candidate’s personality — 50 percent
- Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests — 50 percent
- Candidate’s background information supported professional qualifications — 49 percent
- Candidate was creative — 46 percent
- Great communication skills — 43 percent
- Other people posted great references about the candidate — 38 percent
“Employers are using all the tools available to them to assure they make the correct hiring decision, and the use of social media continues to grow,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “For job seekers, it is essential to be aware of what information they’re making available to employers and to manage their online image. At the same time, hiring managers and human resources departments must carefully consider how to use information obtained from social media and whether it is relevant to a candidate’s qualifications.”
Sending the right social media message
When hiring managers use social media as a screening tool, they’re trying to get a sense of your behavior and personality outside of the interview. They want to see if you present yourself professionally and if you’d be a fit with the company culture.
If you’re unsure of whether your profiles are setting you up for job-search success or failure, Haefner offers these tips:
Search yourself: The easiest way for employers to research your online personality is a search on Google and other sites. Try it out for yourself so you know exactly what they’ll see, and remove any digital dirt you wouldn’t want a potential boss to encounter. Some browsers may save information about you, so search from a public computer to be sure you’re getting the right results.
Read your privacy settings: Social media sites change their privacy settings often, and occasionally this leads to a change in your personal settings. It’s good practice to check in on the privacy settings for all of your accounts regularly.
Showcase your talent: This is your opportunity to provide evidence that you are as exceptional as your résumé says by posting awards and accolades you’ve received, volunteer activities, accomplishments you’re excited about, etc. Employers often search social media to learn more about your qualifications or to see that you are well-rounded, so be sure to put that information front and center.
Keep tabs: Just because you’re being careful with what you put online doesn’t mean your friends are necessarily so cautious. Pay attention to what others are posting on your profile and what you’re tagged in to protect your online image.