Warning: Social Media Activity Can Sink Your Job Search

By    September 24, 2013

social media job search

Beware, job seekers. Potential employers are watching your moves on social media, and they don’t always like what they see.

A recent survey by Burlingame, CA-based Jobvite Inc., which offers a job-recruiting platform for social media, found that recruiters use LinkedIn 93 percent of the time to search for, contact and keep tabs on candidates during the hiring process. Furthermore, 25 percent of recruiters reported using Facebook and 18 percent reported using Twitter to screen job candidates after they were interviewed. (Full disclosure: Jobvite is one of our vendors.)

Similarly, a recent survey by Austin, TX-based Software Advice Inc., which provides online guidance for software shoppers, revealed that 80 percent of recruiters regularly pursue job candidates they find on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Branding
Jason Corgiat, 
CEO of Random Lake, WI-based social media agency LeapGo Inc., said: “Job seekers should know that more and more employers are looking at your online brand as a part of the hiring process, and it should be considered part of your résumé—whether you purposely present it as such or not.”

Case in point: Bryan Wetzel, chief operating officer at Duluth, GA-based Skubes Inc., an online provider of educational videos and interactive books, said he rejected one prospective employee after spotting a Facebook photo of him being arrested for mooning a cop at a concert.

social media job search

“We deal with K-12 education, so I canceled the interview because we cannot have that kind of controversy involved in our business,” Wetzel said. “It could get out and hurt our company’s reputation.”

Here at SpareFoot, recruiter Rachel Morse said she looks up every job candidate on LinkedIn either after an application has been submitted or before a phone interview is conducted. Morse said a job candidate’s Facebook postings probably wouldn’t raise a red flag at SpareFoot unless something really outrageous pops up.

“We have a rigorous interview process that leaves little room for people to hide who they are,” Morse said. “Obnoxious Twitter accounts are discouraged, but I have yet to see someone not hired at SpareFoot due to their social media presence.”

Frowned Upon: Drug Use, Profanity
The same can’t be said for some other employers, though. The Jobvite survey found that 42 percent of recruiters have reconsidered a job candidate based on what they saw on a social media account. Among the no-nos:

  • 83 percent of recruiters said they’ve turned up their noses at posts about illegal drug use.
  • 70 percent of recruiters said they’ve frowned upon sexually oriented posts.
  • 65 percent of recruiters said they’ve given a thumbs-down to profanity-laced posts.
  • 50 percent of recruiters said they’ve done a double-take when they’ve come across gun-related references on social media.

“It’s no longer a question of ‘Are recruiters using social media?’” said Dan Finnigan, president and CEO of Jobvite. “It’s a question of how.”

social media job search

Your Online Reputation
So, where does this leave you, the job seeker, when it comes to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets?

Robin Reshwan, founder of Alamo, CA-based Collegial Services, which helps new college graduates find jobs, said a job seeker should remove any inappropriate photos and comments from social media accounts and should refrain from posting questionable content during the job hunt.

How you present yourself in words and images online affects your “personal brand,” LeapGo’s Corgiat said. Job seekers either should tighten privacy settings on their social media accounts, according to Corgiat, or should represent themselves online in an employer-friendly way.

“Although LinkedIn is dubbed as the only professional networking 
platform, it is not the only one employers will be using to locate and screen 
potential hires,” Reshwan said. “Facebook and Twitter will be used to determine a 
job seeker’s personal behavior, tendencies, attitude and mentality, while
 LinkedIn will be used to gain a deeper understanding of a candidate’s
 professional experience.”

Say No to Party Pix
Wade Benz, president of Brentwood, TN-based USImprints.com, an online provider of promotional products, said he has bypassed hundreds of job candidates based on their Facebook profiles, including ones with photos that showed out-of-control partying or provocative poses.

Reflecting a theme common among a growing number of employers, Corgiat said: “I’ve personally not hired individuals who interviewed extremely well because of what we’ve found published by them online.”

So you might want to think twice the next time you’re tempted to post a photo of yourself twerkin’ it like Miley Cyrus.

Bottom photo courtesy of emotionaltoothpaste.blogspot.com

John is editor of The SpareFoot Blog. He first moved to Austin in 1999, when downtown Austin wasn't nearly as lively as it is today. John's loves include pizza, University of Kansas basketball and puns.

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