Who’s Checking You Out on Social Media and Why it Matters
Everyone, or at least almost everyone, is on social media. Many people are almost permanently connected to their phone, so they can keep track of who’s doing what on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social accounts. Does it matter what you post if you’re job hunting? Are employers really going to check you out?
If your social life isn’t remotely connected to your career, your social media presence probably shouldn’t matter to your employers. However, for many people there’s a crossover between personal and professional. That’s especially true for people who work remotely and whose main way to connect is online. And it might matter even if your work life has nothing to do with what you do on your own time.
Most professionals are expected to have a presence on LinkedIn, and your profile there should be polished, professional, and reflect the best of what you have to offer a prospective employer. That’s a given, so if you haven’t brushed up your LinkedIn profile in a while, it’s a good idea to give it a makeover.
What about the rest of social media? At least some employers are looking at it, and that can help — or hurt—your job search, depending on what’s showing up publicly.
Who’s Checking You Out
A CareerBuilder survey reports that employers in some industries are more likely than others to check you out. Employers in IT (74%) and manufacturing (73%), for example, are more likely than those in retail/non-retail sales (59%) to look at your social networking activity.
An online presence is not necessarily a bad thing. If you don’t have any information online, it could cost you an interview. Almost half of employers (47%) say that if they can’t find a job candidate online, they are less likely to call that person in for an interview, and 20% say they expect candidates to have an online presence.
Here’s what companies are looking for:
- Information that supports the candidate’s qualifications for the job: 58%
- The candidate‘s professional online persona: 50%
- What other people are posting about the candidate: 34%
- A reason not to hire the candidate: 22%
Top 5 Reasons Social Media Can Hurt You
There are things employers don’t want to see, some of which can impact your hiring potential. Here are the top five reasons why survey respondents didn’t hire applicants:
- Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information: 40%
- Information about candidates drinking or using drugs: 36%
- Discriminatory comments related to age, gender, religion, etc.: 31%
- Candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 30%
- Candidate lied about qualifications: 27%
Top 5 Reasons Social Media Can Help You
On the positive side of the equation, social media can help you get hired. Here are some of the things that helped impress hiring managers:
- Candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job: 37%
- Candidate was creative: 34%
- Candidate’s site conveyed a professional image: 33%
- Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests: 31%
- Candidate’s online presence demonstrated the candidate’s personality, and showed that they would be a good fit within the company culture: 31%
Clean Up Your Online Image
If you’re not liking what you see, take some time to clean up your pages. Adjust your privacy settings, so you’re not sharing with the world what’s better kept between you, your close friends, and your family. Once you limit what you share, it will be easier to maintain a professional image.
What About Who’s Googling You?
It’s not just social media that hiring managers are interested in. The CareerBuilder survey also reports that 66% of employers say they use search engines to conduct their research on potential job candidates.
When you’re done checking your social sites to make sure they are employer-friendly, take a few minutes to Google yourself to see what comes up. If you don’t like what you see, Google may be able to help you out. If it’s content that can’t be removed or hidden, there are still steps you can take to fix the results.
Add a Social Media Check to Your “To Do” List
Once you’ve cleaned up your online presence, you still have work to do. Every month or so—more often if you are in active job–search mode—take some time to be sure that what you’re posting online is appropriate for prospective business connections and employers. It will give you an advantage over the candidates who aren’t paying attention to the implications of what they are posting.