We all know that we spend a significant amount of time interacting online—very often through social media—an average of 2-3 hours per day. Further, by 2021, more than 3 billion people are expected to be active on social media. What does that mean for your job search? Well, for better or worse, your work and personal life are easily searchable online. So if you’re looking for work, it’s important that you are putting your best foot forward on your social media accounts.
If you don’t have an online presence--you may want to think about building one. Hiring managers do expect to see some evidence of a social presence online; in fact nearly half report that if they can’t find an applicant online, they are less likely to call them in for an interview. If you are in this boat, now may be a good time to make a profile right here on Jobcase or another social media platform.
While potential employers still check personal and work references and verify employment histories provided on applications, they now have another way to get a sense of a future employee’s qualifications, interests, and temperament: checking their social media.
Back in 2006, just 12% of employers reported checking out job candidates online, but now, more than 93% of employers screen candidates this way. It makes sense, too, especially since the majority of employers recruit for new candidates this way. What you may find surprising, however, is that 57% of employers report having eliminated candidates as job contenders—or in some cases, have rescinded job offers—based on what they have found on their social media profiles.
What can you do with this information? Make sure that your digital profile and social media presence is fully job-ready.
Have you Googled yourself? If not, you may want to try--because when screening job applications, that is one of the first things that hiring managers do. Next, most employers will move on to the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
What are they looking for? Believe it or not, employers are not only looking for negative things, they are hoping to find positive examples of online engagement that would support an applicant’s overall job chances.
Most importantly, hiring managers want to see evidence that you will be a good fit for not only the position to which you have applied, but for the company itself. Do your social profiles indicate that you have experience in a particular industry? Do they highlight the qualifications you claim, like professional licenses or certifications? If you are applying for work with a non-profit or community organization, do your profiles exhibit your interests in certain causes or campaigns?
An important rule of thumb is this: don’t post anything online (text, pictures, etc.) that you wouldn’t want the world (or your mom!) to see. Even if you delete something you have posted after thinking better of it, it never fully disappears online. Not only can content be screenshotted and reposted elsewhere, but through the use of search tools like The Wayback Machine your old posts and online content can be found if someone is conducting a thorough search.
Overall, potential employers don't want to see posts of a sexual nature, things with profanity, or glorification of drugs and alcohol. Hiring managers also may disqualify applicants who post things that are racist or those which target specific groups. Comments or posts that are overtly negative or complaining may also raise red flags because an employer might question your ability to act with diplomacy and positivity in the workplace, so think carefully about what you want to share and with whom.
Employers report that their top three online no-nos when researching job candidates are the following:
Content focused on drinking or drugs (36%)
Discriminatory content (31%)
With this in mind, think before you post!
If you’ve made some missteps online, there are still some things you can do to improve your digital presence.
For starters: Google yourself and see what comes up. Are there any things that you need to be proactive about addressing? For example, if there is negative content that appears associated with someone that has the same name as you, this might be something you should address with a hiring manager. For example, if your Google search results show negative content like arrest warrants or social media accounts that aren’t yours, this could be something good to bring up during the interview process.
Next: do a sweep of your personal accounts. Delete anything objectionable. Manage the individuals and businesses you are following or who follow you. Set your settings to private.
Moving forward: engaging thoughtfully online
At the end of the day, engage respectfully with others online and try to think of social media as a tool that can enhance your job prospects as well as increase your personal connections with others.
Do you have tips on managing profiles? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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