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It’s well known that people have been fired over posts on social media. It made national news when Gilbert Gottfried was fired as the voice of the Aflac Duck following his wildly inappropriate tweets after the Japanese Tsunami. But there are plenty of lesser known instances like the math teacher in Denver who was lost her job after tweeting about smoking marijuana.
But inappropriate behavior on social media can also keep you from getting hired.
Today 43 percent of employers are checking candidates out online and the numbers who pass on candidates due to what they see on social media is increasing according to recent findings by CareerBuilder. In the survey, 51 percent of employers who said they research candidates on social media said that something they found caused them not to hire the candidate, up from 43 percent last year which is almost a ten point jump.
The good news for jobseekers is that 33 percent of employers said that they’ve found content that made them more likely to hire candidate. With 23 percent saying they found something that directly led them to extend an offer.
So what can you do? Make sure that you not only eliminate blatantly bad behavior like posts that scream “Party Time” but that you also convey positive activities like volunteering and mentoring.
These are the top five reasons employers gave for hiring a candidate based on their social media presence.
Got a good feel for the job candidate’s personality, could see a good fit within the company culture (46 percent)
How you can make this work for you. Should you fake who you are? No. But you should be your best self online. Hiring managers don’t want to see constant negativity like snarky comments about your boss or even complaints about every restaurant you’ve ever been to. They’re looking for people who will be team players, who will get along with their colleagues. They’re not looking for someone who may be a potential problem. You don’t want to employers to look at your profile and think “Who would want to work with this person?”
Job candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job (45 percent)
How you can make this work for you. Make sure you have a consistent message across all of your social media channels. Make sure your LinkedIn profile supports your resume. A common mistake is to list different jobs at the same company separately on LinkedIn and then clump these same positions under one title, the most current title, on a resume. Discrepancies like this make hiring managers wonder what else they may find.
Job candidate’s site conveyed a professional image (43 percent)
How you can make this work for you. Think carefully about what you use as a profile picture and not just on LinkedIn. No you don’t need a professional headshot, however, having a profile picture of you with a cocktail in hand or sporting a bikini on Twitter is not going to help you get a job. If you need to let loose on Facebook at least make sure that your Privacy Settings are on high. Although when it comes to the Internet there’s no guarantee.
Job candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests (40 percent)
How you can make this work for you. This doesn’t mean listing your hobbies on your resume. No one cares if you like to salsa unless you’re applying to be a dance teacher. However, LinkedIn has a place for you to put your interests, your volunteer activities and causes you support. Twitter and Facebook can work in your favor too. Are you biking for a charity event? Tweet about that. Are you volunteering for a cause? Post about that too.
Job candidate had great communication skills (40 percent)
How you can make this work for you. When creating your profiles make sure your content communicates who you are clearly and concisely. Triple-check your social media profiles just as you would your resume. When you post to social media put a little thought into it. Consider what an employer might see if they check out your Twitter Timeline.
While you can’t control whether or not you get the job, you can control what employers find when they check out your social media presence. Oh, and when it comes to social media employers like it when you check them out too. Many respondents (24 percent) said they hired a candidate because they had interacted with the company’s social media accounts.
About Annette Richmond, MA
Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.