In 2018, we are increasingly conducting our lives online. Approximately 50% of the Australian population logs into Facebook every single day. 9 million people are active on Instagram – the fastest growing social network – while 4 million Australians use Snapchat daily (source). With such high rates of use, it is natural that social media permeates through all areas of our life – including our work life. However, job seekers often fail to realise that their social media accounts can absolutely help or hinder their success.
A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 84% of employers recruit via social media, and 43% of employers screen job candidates through social networks and search engines. The same study found that 36% of companies have actually disqualified job candidates after doing a search of their social media.
So what’s the kind of content which repels potential future employers? Unsurprisingly, posts featuring illicit drugs, sexually suggestive posts, and posts implying alcohol consumption were rated the most unattractive by companies who performed social media screening as part of their hiring process in a 2017 US survey. However, the survey also found that employers were just as turned off by poor grammar and unprofessional screen names.
No matter how strong your resume and how well you fit the brief, if your prospective employer finds your online presence inappropriate or offensive you could be jeopardising your chances of landing the role or even getting an interview.
Of course, there are some ways that your social media platforms might have the opposite effect. Sharing your promotions and workplace successes – especially on Linkedin – would naturally strike interest in your future employers. Posting about your hobbies or travels might also help give you personality before your employer even meets you.
If you’re looking for a job and need to give your social media accounts a little clean up, here’s some advice:
- With social profiles like Facebook and Instagram, ensure your privacy settings are fully activated. Your prospective employer doesn’t need full access to your personal life. However, don’t forget that your profile picture and cover images are usually public, so keep these appropriate.
- Make sure that your professional networks such as Linkedin are reserved for career related posting. It’s best to keep personal posting to your social profiles.
- Be selective with the photos you choose to post online, and monitor those which others share of you. Although it might seem unfair for a potential employer to judge you on these, it still happens!
- Avoid bad-mouthing your current and previous places of work, including colleagues and bosses. Not only does this look extremely unprofessional but you never know who might share a mutual friend.
- Avoid swearing, vulgar remarks and insults online
- Be cautious of who you accept as a follower or friend
And for those of you reading this article feeling relieved because you don’t have any active social media accounts? Time to think again! If hiring managers can’t find you online, it can look like you have something to hide, or perhaps that you’re not very tech savvy. Getting that balance is key. A well-managed Linkedin and Twitter page should give a good idea about who you are as a person, while keeping your Facebook and Instagram pages private is probably for the best. And simply signing up for these pages isn’t going to cut it - you need to be actively engaging. It’s a chance to show companies that you’re the full package.