More than half of employers have found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate, according to a new survey.
Your old social media posts could make your dream employer swipe left.
Social media is a way of life for some — but it can be detrimental to job seekers. More than half of employers have found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate, according to a new CareerBuilder survey.
“In this environment, companies are not only hiring people for their skills but also for their cultural traits to see if they’re going to be a good fit in the office,” Michael Erwin, a senior career advisor at CareerBuilder, told Moneyish.
The survey of more than 1,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals, conducted online by the Harris Poll, revealed that 70% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, and 48% check up on current employees on social media. Of those, a third of employers have reprimanded or fired an employee based on content found online.
But job applicants have to walk a fine line on having an online presence: Nearly half of employers in the survey said that if they can’t find a job candidate online, they’re less likely to call that person in for an interview. So what exactly are employers looking for when they search for a candidate online? Twenty-eight percent say they like to gather more information before calling in a candidate to interview, and 20% say they expect candidates to have an online presence. Additionally, 58% look for information that supports their qualifications for the job and 34% are interested in seeing what other people are posting about the candidate.
Human resources specialist Anna Liem has encountered a couple of hires who had performance issues, and coincidentally had a less-than-stellar online presence. “We had an attorney candidate who went off on a rant about his law school. He was emotional, showed no logic, and to boot, the tweets were poorly written,” Liem said. “We didn’t hire him because of his judgment and his poor use of the English language.”
Among the most common types of content that led employers not to hire a job candidate were provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information, drinking or using drugs, discriminatory comments related to rage, gender, religion, criminal behavior, lying about qualifications, bad-mouthing a previous company or fellow employee, having an unprofessional screen name and sharing confidential information from previous employers, the survey found.
“Younger audiences think they’re OK, but by the time they start looking for a job, they have to realize their digital dirt stays there,” Erwin said. And you need to stay on top of what your friends are posting. “This is when you really have to make sure you’re monitoring when other people tag you in something that might be a public post,” he added.
Cynthia Y., who declined to provide her last name and works in human resources for a national food and beverage company, told Moneyish, “The biggest turnoffs are things that are violent in nature or anything that conveys illegal activities. And believe it or not, some people still post those things, which is crazy to me.”
Andreea Boier, chief human resources officer at Kairos Ventures, told Moneyish that she once interviewed a candidate who claimed he wanted to leave his then-current employer because of his work-life balance. “He emphasized how hadn’t taken vacation in more than three years,” Boier said. “When we got to reference checking and browsed through his social media accounts, we discovered beautiful vacation photos posted regularly.” But it wasn’t the time off that gave her initial pause — it was the fact that his two stories didn’t reconcile. After reference-checking calls, Boier found he’d been repeatedly terminated from previous employers for repeated absenteeism and job abandonment.
The kind of content that led employers to hire a candidate, on the other hand, included information supporting their professional qualifications for the job; being creative; conveying a professional image; showing a well-rounded, wide range of interests; having good communication skills; and showing interaction with the company’s social media accounts.
“What you do share on social media can be just as important as what you don’t share,” Teague Simoncic, a career and lifestyle coach at Ama La Vida, told Moneyish. “Develop your online brand to show off your qualifications.”
And landing a job doesn’t mean you’re in the clear: Ten percent of employers admit to checking employees’ social media accounts daily, so keep things PG even after you’ve been onboarded. “We also have issues with current employees posting or venting on websites like Glassdoor,” Liem added.
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“Be mindful if you start searching. I have encountered candidates who have discrepancies on their LinkedIn profiles and employment history, education and credentials do not match is listed in their resume or stated during an interview,” Belyna said. “Even if the position does not have a certain requirement, their integrity is now in question.”
So how can you cover your digital tracks? Belyna encourages people to “do a Google search and see what comes up; remove anything that may not show you in the best light, clean up social media accounts and change privacy settings so access to social media accounts is limited.”
Simoncic likes to remind her clients, “Even if your privacy settings are tight and you’re only posting to your personal network, remember that what you put onto the internet is permanent. People can be mean, and even someone you trust might show the contents of your private social media to your employer — tread lightly.”
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