Society moves forward. Technology rapidly evolves which gives us access to new marvels. And our interviewer’s cyber stalk us on Facebook. According to a study completed by Career Builder, 37% of employers have begun to check out the Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts of their candidates. That means that 1 in 3 companies will study your social media sites before deciding whether to hire you.
Depending on your chosen career field, you may be more likely to have an employer check out your social media count before hiring. Anyone in the medical profession will have a 1 in 4 chance that their social media by potential employers. On the other hand if you are entering the IT profession after graduating with an information technology degree, you have a 1 in 2 chance that your social media will be scanned.
What Employers Are Looking For
The good news is that 29% of the companies surveyed used social media sites to confirm that the candidate was the right hire. This means that you can consciously change your social media site before a job search to demonstrate the qualities that a company may be seeking. What you want your social media site to demonstrate before a job search:
- A personable personality.
- A professional image.
- Background info that reinforces the qualifications that you highlighted in your resume.
- A variety of interests.
- Good communication skills.
- Solid references from colleagues, family, and friends (although all references should look natural).
The bad news is that 12% of the companies that were surveyed admitted that they consciously looked for reasons not to hire candidates. If you are unlucky enough to apply to a company that nitpicks your social media accounts, would your Facebook posts lead to your resume landing in the shredder? Before applying for jobs, you should scan and delete:
- Inappropriate pictures.
- Posts or pictures that demonstrate drug use or alcohol consumption.
- Posts that demonstrate poor communication skills.
- Any rants about your previous employer or company.
- Any posts that might be construed as racist or sexist.
- Any post or images that reveals the white lies that might have slipped into your application.
Social Media Spring Cleaning
If you have determined that you have a social media problem, you should clean up your social media profiles before your job search begins. Here are a few steps to get you started.
- Scan your social media.
- Delete any posts or pictures that could hurt your job search chances.
- If you are tagged in an inappropriate picture that was put online by someone else, you should request that the individual remove it. If they refuse you can remove the tag, and send a removal request to Facebook.
- Place your account on private. This will mean that your posts cannot be seen by anyone that has not requested a friend’s request. If you want to keep your post public, you can change the setting on who can see any slightly inappropriate posts that you would like to keep.
- Request that friends and family do not post anything inappropriate that will appear on your Facebook wall until you land the job. If they are unable or unwilling to follow this request you can click “I don’t want to see this” to any inappropriate posts as they come in or you can temporarily block or unfriend the individuals.
How far you take your social media clean-up will depend on the extent of your social media problem and the likelihood that you think someone will base their hiring decisions on your social media account.
Important: Some employers have taken to demanding future employers social media passwords for unfettered access to their potential employee’s social media sites. In response to this invasion of privacy, many states have passed laws prohibiting this practice. Before you begin your job search, you should peruse this document to discover if your state prohibits employers from asking for access to your social media accounts. If you live in a state that allows employees to ask for your password, you may want to consider a more in-depth clean-up of your social media profile.
It is hard enough to land a job in the current job market without your social media profiles betraying you. While cleaning up your social media profiles can be hard work, you won’t regret it.