- Poor social media behavior can hurt job seekers' chances of getting a job.
- Some employers consider social media background checks necessary.
- You should not avoid social media altogether.
A variety of social media mistakes take job seekers out of the running for open positions, a study from OfficeTeam found.
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% 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 photos can also cause problems for job seekers. The study revealed that 35% of HR managers said posting or being tagged in questionable photos is the biggest online mistake 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," said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, 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 risk of mistakes, job seekers shouldn't avoid social media altogether, hiring managers said. Nearly 20% of those surveyed said not having a social media profile at all or not posting regularly is the online mistake that hurts job seekers the most. [Read related article: Why Your Social Media Profile Is the New Resume]
OfficeTeam uncovered five types of poor social media behavior:
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. Because 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. Avoid posting 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 share too many details about their lives – when they attend parties, when they play games, when they take online quizzes – that don't need to be shared publicly. Such posters need to realize that some topics can make them seem unprofessional. Use good judgment when sharing details about your life. Also, make sure your privacy settings limit which people in your network have access to certain types of information.
You worry too much about numbers. Many social media users favor quantity over quality when it comes to their online connections. OfficeTeam advised 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. But not having any presence, or having a sparse one, is also looked down on. You don't want to be someone who has an inadequate profile or who posts infrequently.
The study was based on surveys of more than 300 HR managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.
Social media tips for job seekers
If you're looking for a job, make sure to follow these tips for appropriate social media use, according to TK:
Clean up your image. Take down all of the pictures of you partying, especially if you appear intoxicated. Make sure none of your posts include profanity, or anything overly political. Avoid offensive comments, language and ideas.
Keep it real. Use your real name. Cute nicknames may be funny, but your real name is more professional. It is also easier to search for and find you when you use your real name.
Remember quality. You do not have to have a profile on every single social media outlet. Pick a few, and have profiles on them. Focus on posting quality items on just a few sites. Keep your posts consistent. If you are serious about finding a job, you should have a LinkedIn account. You should research what is important in your industry and find a social media platform that matches those values.
Create a brand. Consider creating your own brand, and make sure it's consistent across all of your social media platforms. This allows people to know what you are about and where you want to go.
Use it carefully. You can link to your social media profiles on your job hunt documents. You can put them on your resume or in your email signature, as long as they are professional and geared toward your industry. However, do not use social media as a form of communication for employment. For example, do not use Facebook to follow up after an interview.
Respect your connections. Consider asking your connections if they know of any potential opportunities that might be a good fit for you. However, be careful not to annoy or harass your connections; you want to ensure your connections remain strong. Be mindful of how you approach someone, especially if you do not know them well.
- Use LinkedIn. To build the right kind of online reputation, 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 find you easily. You will be best served by joining online groups and forums that show you are interested in your industry.