Social Media for Job Seekers

CareerBuilder’s annual social media survey* has shown that 60% of employers use social networking sites to research and screen potential employees. This is up 52% from last year, and 500% over the last decade. If you’re going for a job, the employer is probably Googling your name and checking your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and anything else that may give them insight into you.

Even if you’re not currently in the job market (good for you!), social media is something you should keep in mind. Employers may already be looking your way—and once it’s on the internet, it doesn’t go away!

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So what are they looking for?

Surprisingly, 21% of employers say they’re looking for reasons not to hire you. Most—a handy 60%—are focused on information that supports the your resume, like a professional portfolio. Another 30% of employers are actually looking at what other people have posted about you.

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What will raise a red flag?

A massive 48% of employers have found reasons on social media to not hire a candidate. The top turn-offs are: provocative or inappropriate photos (46%), evidence of drinking or drug-use (40%), badmouthing ex-employers or co-workers (34%), poor communication skills like spelling or punctuation mistakes (30%), and discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender (29%). Some of these photos, videos and status updates may have been deleted—but on the internet, they never truly disappear.

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What should you do?

This doesn’t mean you have to cancel all your social media accounts. A decent 32% of employers reported have found information on social media that led to them hiring the candidate. These included factors like background information supporting job qualifications, evidence of the candidate’s personality as a good fit for the company, a professional image, great communication skills, and creativity. So dealing with social media in the workforce is not as easy as setting your accounts to private. Especially as CareerBuilder found that 41% of employers say they’re less likely to interview a candidate if they can’t find the person online and 36% of employers will send a ‘friend request’ to private accounts.

One of the best ways to go is to have a professional account—usually a LinkedIn account, but it depends on the industry. This gives employers a platform to view your qualifications, references by other people, and your interaction with the wider community online. Your private, social accounts should be just that: private. For extra security you may also want to use a false name. Just remember, your profile pictures are public (so keep the drinking, drugs and sexy poses out of it). As the VP International at Jobvite, David Lahey, says: ‘You should not be living your life through social media, you must be curating it instead.’

 

*Get the stats at CareerBuilder.

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