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5 Social Media Behaviors That Could Cost You the Job

image for Twin Design/Shutterstock
Twin Design/Shutterstock

A variety of social media mistakes take job seekers out of the running for open positions, a new study from OfficeTeam finds.

Having a generally negative tone on social media is the biggest faux pas to human resources managers, the study showed. The research found that 45 percent of those in charge of hiring said they look down the most on job candidates who have a history of writing negative or inappropriate comments on social media.

Social media pictures can also cause problems for job seekers. The study revealed that 35 percent of HR managers said posting or being tagged in questionable photos is the biggest online mistake that job seekers make.

"People often believe posting on social media is just harmless fun, but in reality, employers frequently look online to learn about prospective hires," Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, said in a statement. "Professionals should think beyond eliminating unflattering content from their digital accounts to how they can wow hiring managers by showcasing career accomplishments and industry involvement."

Despite the mistakes that can be made, job seekers shouldn't avoid social media altogether. Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed said not having a social media profile at all, or not posting regularly are the online mistakes that most hurt those looking for jobs. [Why Your Social Media Profile Is the New Resume ]

To help job seekers, OfficeTeam has uncovered five types of poor social media behavior and tips on how to improve your online appearance:

  • You're too negative: Some online users aren't shy about making off-putting comments about anything and everything, including former co-workers and politics. Since you never know who is reading what you write, it's important to use discretion when posting anything on social media, blogs or other online communities.
  • You have inappropriate pictures: You don't want to have an overabundance of photos on social media that are not office-appropriate and that paint a picture of someone with an inflated ego. Be sure to remove or untag yourself from any images that may be considered questionable.
  • You share too much: Some people don't understand that not every detail of their lives — when they attend parties, when they play games, when they take online quizzes — needs to be shared publicly. Such posters need to realize that some topics can make them seem unprofessional. You need to use good judgment when sharing details about your life. It is also critical to make sure your privacy settings limit which people in your network have access to what information.
  • You're worried too much about numbers: Many social media users favor quantity over quality when it comes to their online connections. OfficeTeam advises job seekers to be more selective in who they connect with. It's not about connecting with the most people; it is about connecting with the right ones.
  • You're not active: Some professionals think there is no benefit to being on social media at all. But not having any, or a sparse, presence is also looked down on. You don't want to be someone who has an inadequate profile or who posts infrequently.

To build the right kind of online reputation, take time to use sites like LinkedIn to highlight your work history and accomplishments. In addition, include key terms in your profiles that describe your skills and experience so employers can easily find you. You are also best served by joining online groups and forums that show you are interested in your industry.

The study was based on surveys ofmore than 300 HR managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer with more than 20 years of media experience. A graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff as a senior writer. Currently, Chad covers a wide range of B2B products and services, including business phone systems, time and attendance systems, payroll services, and conference call services. Before joining Business News Daily and business.com, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. Chad's first book, "How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business," was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.