Posted July 10, 2013 by

Think Before You Post – How Social Media Platforms, Like SnapChat, Vine and Facebook, Can Impact Your Job Search

dreamstimeIf you think those off-the-wall photos of you and your pals from last week’s neighborhood Fourth of July BBQ aren’t a big deal, you may want to think again: They could actually cost you a job.

Your digital footprint says a lot about you. And social media platforms, such as newcomers SnapChat and Vine—-apps that seem to encourage a “post what you feel” attitude—offer hiring companies today an essential gold mine of information about potential employees.

These social apps, as well as already-familiar platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, often encourage users to share thoughts, photos and videos on-the-go, but unfortunately, can encourage postings of things that may be better left unposted.

What many people don’t consider is that most anything posted online today may actually stay there forever, in one form or another.

In our highly competitive job market, the social media factor can either help or hinder you as more and more companies rely heavily on these digital outlets to recruit new hires.  In fact, some recruiters say they actually eliminate candidates based solely on what information they discover online.

The practice of employers searching for background information about job candidates on social media has been growing dramatically. For example, according to Jobvite’s 2012 social recruiting survey:

•    92 percent of employers use, or plan to use, social recruiting;
•    73 percent of employers have successfully hired a candidate via social; and,
•    31 percent of recruiters using social media have seen a sustained increase in employee referrals.

Social media has become a dominant form of communication today, and hiring managers and recruiters say they can learn a lot about a person by viewing his or her public online persona. Postings —- your likes, dislikes, what you watch or read, who you associate with online —- tend to give us a platform to reveal our “true selves,” whether you intend to or not. These postings tend to weave a story, revealing more of an authentic version of a person (versus the polished version exhibited during an in-person job interview).

Social network users need to post personal information with caution — especially considering the risks to employment prospects. So what type of information should job seekers avoid posting online?

While on the hunt, refrain from posting about controversial topics, such as religious or political discussions. A potential employer, for example, might find certain material offensive or even troubling, and may decide not to interview you at all.

Or, if a person is overly negative in his or her social media postings, a recruiter will most certainly view this as a red flag, deciding it may not be a good fit for the company. In addition, photos of extensive partying may not make a good first impression, as well as posts reflecting questionable language or a bad work ethic.

If you do choose to make your social media content public, it’s critical to filter out anything that can tarnish your professional reputation. The following tips can help you protect yourself, avoid embarrassment, and worse, avoid loss of employment opportunities:

•    “Think before you click” to post text or photos to groups in ways, or on topics, that you would not want to discuss with your current employer, or in a job interview. Inappropriate, demeaning or defamatory comments related to your work are especially risky.
•    Avoid posting comments about past or current employment situations, i.e., “I hate my boss,” or “I was late for work again today,” or, “I shouldn’t have to work so hard.”
•    Implement strong privacy controls over your personal information on social networks. Start by reviewing your privacy settings. These may be tricky to use, so once you’ve set them up, be sure to test them out by having someone try to look at your profile.
•    Build a positive image for yourself on your profiles through comments on your own and others’ sites, photos, and groups –– this  is really what you want prospective employers to see.
•    Post any kind of volunteer or charitable work that involves helping people in the community, or giving back.

While you may want to regularly post photos of personal and social interactions on your page, employers are looking to see if job candidates have a good sense of what should be kept public versus private. This can indicate to employers whether an applicant has a true sense of judgment that might ultimately fit into their company’s corporate culture.

We no longer live in a private, personal world, and much of what we do and say becomes open to the public via social media.  The truth is: someone is always watching you. And although the social media revolution has made it simpler to be in touch with people, it has also made it easier for people to see who and what you really are.

By Noelle Federico, CMO,

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