The hidden things you’re doing wrong on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites that may cost you a job.
There’s a lot to dislike on Facebook.
Most employers now check social media to vet job applicants — and Facebook is the social network that hiring managers scrutinize more than any other, according to a survey of more than 600 hiring managers from HR solutions firm Paychex. Indeed, 85% say they check Facebook, 66% look on LinkedIn and 40% eye Twitter and Instagram when vetting candidates.
And it’s Facebook where hiring managers most often find problems: Two in three say that Facebook contains the most incriminating information about applicants on it, compared to only about one in 10 who say that about Twitter and Instagram, and just 4% who say that about LinkedIn.
A spokeswoman for Paychex says that while they can’t say for sure why Facebook tends to trip up candidates the most, it may be because so many people have a plethora of information about themselves on there, and because they’ve had profiles for so long, “it can difficult to keep track of everything you’ve liked or posted.”
No matter the social network, incriminating information could cost you a job: A CareerBuilder survey from this year found that more than half of employers (57%) had refused to hire a candidate because of something they found on social media. The obvious things were provocative or inappropriate photos, videos or information (40% of employers who decided not to hire an employee based on social media said this was a reason, according to CareerBuilder); information about drinking or using drugs (36%); and discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion (31%).
But plenty of things that you might not have thought about may give employers pause. Here are six things to consider:
Look at how often you post. More than one in 10 employers (12%) who have rejected a candidate based on social media said they had done so because a candidate posted too frequently, according to CareerBuilder. It’s especially troubling if a potential candidate is posting during work hours. “Are they focused at work or updating their social profiles? There has to be a line somewhere,” says Akin Tosyali, the director of digital marketing for Tiege.com, who has used social media extensively to vet candidates.
So how much is too much? “Anything more than once a day during business hours — I would be worried that the focus level isn’t where it needs to be,” says Jared Shapiro, owner of marketing/branding agency The Tag Experience. Think about it like this: “Anything that would prevent or limit a company’s ability to make a profit is something that would upset an employer. An employee who spends time at work posting memes on Instagram to their personal account is not helping the company make money,” says Dr. Andrew Selepak, a mass communications professor specializing in social media.
Assess your online relationships. If you’re frequently fighting with others on social media, it can turn potential employers off. Chris Yoko, the president and CEO of web design firm Yoko Co, says that he was put off by an applicant who was “repeatedly” arguing with an ex in social media posts. “Your life is your own, but it’s highly indicative of the kind of drama you’d bring into the workplace,” he says. Indeed, employers are typically looking for candidates who can communicate and work well with others, and this kind of behavior may be a red flag that you’d bring drama instead of collaborative skills, experts say.
See if you’ve ever complained about a coworker or job, even if you didn’t name names. Even vague work complaints that don’t include a company or person’s name — like mentioning that something was unfair on the job or a cubemate is irritating — can put off a potential employer. (The CareerBuilder survey found that about one in four employers who had rejected a candidate based on social media said they’d found that the candidate “bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee.”) Even if you didn’t list the company or person by name in, say, your Facebook rant, it’s easy enough for someone to look on your LinkedIn, for example, and see where you were working at the time. Christopher K. Lee, a career consultant and founder of PurposeRedeemed.com, says that this is a red flag to hiring managers because they may think “you will do the same to their company when you leave.” And trashing a coworker even in vague terms can show you’re not a team player.
Review which groups you like or are a member of. Employers can often see which groups to which an interviewee belongs on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. “One can impress with a number of niche specific groups that show interest in the potential field of hire, whereas several eyebrow-raising groups can warn employers of certain social tendencies that may carry over to the workplace,” says Ben Huber, the founder of personal finance site DollarSprout.com, who handles hiring at the company. While you should watch out for any group that might be polarizing, Huber says that you should be especially careful about membership in some political groups, as you never know what the hiring manager’s beliefs might be.
Beware of comments and photos you’re tagged or mentioned in. “While a potential candidate may be smart enough to restrict access to less than desirable content on their own profiles, employers are often only one click away from the company you keep,” says Huber. “If you’re tagged in pictures of a friend that consistently appears on your profile, and those images bring about red flags, it’s possible you can miss out on a great job opportunity despite efforts to ‘clean up’ your own digital footprint.” He adds that you should also look out for comments that you are tagged in. “You’d be amazed at the length of time employers/recruiting agencies are willing to go back through to perform a background check on a potential hire. Even comments of friends left years ago are fair game,” he says.
Don’t assume your private profile will remain private. Some employers may look at a workers’ private social media accounts by using a randomly named account and requesting to follow them, says Stacy Caprio, founder of marketing firm Growth Marketing. “More often than not” people, especially younger candidates and those who want more followers, “will accept you without knowing who you are,” she says. All of a sudden, those “private” photos and posts are available to a potential employer.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved