According to the 2012 annual technology market survey conducted by Eurocom Worldwide, “Almost one in five technology industry executives say that a candidate’s social media profile has caused them not to hire that person.”
Yes, it’s legal for employers to review the public contents of your social media profile. Although it is against the law for companies to run background checks on their applicants as part of the screening process, your Facebook profile is fair game. Here are the top 5 ways to make your virtual self super desirable to prospective employers.
1) Don’t Post or Tweet When Angry
Some of my friends use Facebook as a forum to just vent about everything they hate. Don’t use your status updates as a sad soapbox to voice your complaints with the world. Not only is it irritating for the people who are connected to you and have to constantly be exposed to downer commentary, it’s very off putting to potential employers. Most companies are looking to hire positive people with a ‘can do’ attitude. This doesn’t mean you have to post pictures of kittens and sunsets all day, just show some restraint when it comes to unleashing all your lethal resentments.
2) Get in on Social Media Sites for Professionals
LinkedIn is a better site for job seekers than Facebook because you can create a stellar professional profile by using LinkedIn as an electronic résumé. Then, you can encourage potential employers to review your information on LinkedIn. This site also has a great professional networking tool which allows you to obtain testimonials from former co-workers and bosses. I once was complaining to my friend about not being able to find a job and she replied “Are you on LinkedIn?” I rolled my eyes and said “pshh, no”. She shot back with “Well duh that’s why.”
3) Don’t Try to Look Perfect
Going out of your way to overly sanitize your profile can make you look just as bad as someone who never holds back. Having a profile that looks uber plain and watered down probably means one of two things 1) that is a fake profile you created and made public, or 2) that you are completely devoid of any personality. Either you look like a disingenuous liar, or you just seem like a really boring person. You don’t want your potential employer drawing either of these conclusions about you. Don’t be afraid to show some personality on your profiles. Companies want creative, energetic people on their teams.
4) Folks, Tell The Truth
Before you get all bent outta shape over employers using social media to screen candidates, you should know something. According to the focus group Reppler who conducted a study on how recruiters use social networks to screen candidates, the most common reason someone gets rejected from a job due to a social media site is because the candidate lied about their qualifications. Hello! Don’t put that you have a degree from Harvard on your resume when your Facebook profile says “High School Equivalency”. This reason trumped other pretty egregious faux pas, like posting inappropriate photos and blatant content about drug use. Think about it, bosses prefer druggies over liars. Dang.
5) Be A Little Braggy
The same study by Reppler revealed that the percentages of candidates who get rejected because of their social media profile as opposed to candidates who are hired because of their profiles are the same! This means that your Facebook profile or Twitter feed is just as likely to help your chances of getting hired as they are to hurt them. The top reasons hiring managers gave in the Reppler study for choosing candidates based on the content of their profiles were, it gave the impression that their personality and the organization fit, profile showed candidate was creative, and that the candidate received awards and accolades. Brag about your accomplishments; it just might land you a job.
Kristen Bright is the social media consultant for Instant Checkmate. Instant Checkmate is a personal criminal background check provider, and does not perform employment screening of any kind.