Our culture is more on the grid than any before. And for some, it’s having a negative impact on our ability to find a job.
According to a study by CareerBuilder, 37 percent of employers check Facebook as a pre-screening measure for potential employees, often before an interview. Of that group, 34 percent said that they had seen something that caused them to not hire someone.
So the reality job seekers face is that social media profiles (aside from just LinkedIn) do in fact play a role in the hiring process.
What should be the jobseeker’s response?
How do you make sure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot when applying for jobs?
Avoid anything provocative.
Regardless of your own opinion as it relates to what’s decent or not, go with the professional norms when defining “provocative” content on your social media accounts.
Perhaps even err on the more conservative side of the cultural norm.
Whether it’s a photo of yourself, a status update, something you like or pictures you post, be discrete. A zero-tolerance policy is the only way to make sure it’s not going to find a way back to employers.
As long as they’re the ones who can hire you, they have the upper hand.
While it might not sit well with you or feel like a fair standard, if you want the work and paycheck, you’ve got to play by their rules.
Avoid pictures that suggest drinking or drug use.
For most employers, this is an instant red flag. The difficulty with Facebook is that even if you don’t have an account, people can post pictures of you. If they take them, how will you know what will surface?
The best way to deal with this is to tell Facebook to prevent tag suggestions when other people post photos of you.
Also avoid putting yourself in compromising situations where people have cameras. It’s not the “fun” answer, but there’s really no other way to know that people won’t be snapping photos of you.
If you do go out for a few drinks, avoid making it easy on employers to red flag you.
Don’t pose for photos with a beer in your hand or consent to people taking pictures of you. You might not be able to prevent every photo of you from finding its way to Facebook, but don’t be the one volunteering.
Take time to write well.
Another red flag that employers mentioned in the CareerBuilder study was poor writing. Even on Facebook, poor grammar and spelling are noticed and taken into account. If you’re commenting on posts, or crafting status updates, take the time to spell things right and use proper grammar.
Keep in mind that the ability to communicate well — both verbally and in writing —is something that’s on nearly every job description.
If you’re not writing well on social media, then employers are going to take note and quickly write you off.
Be “above the fray.”
The reality of Facebook is that there is a lot of mud and chaos on a fairly regular basis. Emotional rants, political debates, fights, arguments and a variety of other fruitless movement are par for a day in the life of most Facebook pages.
If you’re someone who initiates or gets involved in that kind of activity, you’ll be better off avoiding it entirely if you’re looking for work.
Not only is it off-putting to employers, but it amounts to a lot of stress and frustration for you.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t stand up for what you believe in or speak your mind. You just shouldn’t do it on Facebook.
When it comes to your online presence, stay above the fray and avoid petty talk.
Even if you win the arguments, you still lose.
The best way to appear professional.
Facebook is and always will be a simple snapshot of a person’s character. There’s little on your page that you don’t want or allow to be there. Consider that the best way to exude good character on Facebook is to be a professional person.
Carry yourself as someone who deserves good work, whether or not there’s a job at stake.
When it comes time for an employer to examine you, your character will shine through in all the media a hiring manager examines.
That’s how you’ll get good work.
Are you using social media to find jobs? Visit Pound Place – Social Media: Are You Helping Or Hindering Your Job Prospects? for more tips!