A 2014 study showed that 93% of hiring managers review an applicant’s social media profile before making a hiring decision, and that 55% of them had reconsidered a candidate based on what they found. In 61% of these instances, the candidates’ social media blunders lost them the job offer.
But what are candidates doing to scare away hiring managers in droves?
1. Keep It Clean
Let’s start with the obvious. References to illegal drugs scare away 83% of surveyed recruiters (although 2% do say it’s a positive, if you want to chance it), sexually explicit posts are a turn off for 70% of recruiters, profanity is a deterrent to two thirds of recruiters, guns are a negative to over half of them, and alcohol is “concerning” to a further 44%.
The simple solution is to leave common vices off your social media account, whether it be a status update, a profile picture, or a post by a friend. If you are unable or unwilling to do so on your personal social media accounts, you may want to consider creating and curating separate accounts for your professional self.
2. Keep It Professional
Aggressive, politicized posts can be a turn off to recruiters, and just over 1 in 6 said that any indication of your political affiliations could be a potential negative. So can posts about bad work behaviors – whether yours or another’s – as they showcase questionable business ethics. Furthermore, posts that bash current or previous employers and clients are a huge turn off, and can even get you fired.
Our advice – for finding a new job and keeping your current one – is to ensure that anything you post on social media could double as break-room conversation fodder. If you can say it around the water cooler, you can (probably) say it on social media.
3. Grammar, Spelling, and Grammar
We all hated spelling tests in school, and diagramming sentences was a special sort of punishment. The anarchy of the digital world was an excellent opportunity to escape the tyrannies of our jr. high English class. Comma splices, ebonics, acronyms, and a complete disregard for punctuation flourished in this untamed land!
Alas, this hasn’t stopped 66% of recruiters from holding bad grammar and poor spelling on social media profiles against many hapless job candidates. So if you’ve been hiding from your ancient language arts enemies, Revising and Editing (you know who you are), it may be time to call a truce.
4. Use Those Privacy Controls
Whether or not your social media persona squeaky clean, you should always employe carefully chosen privacy controls to protect your content from unwanted eyes. Some platforms, like Facebook, allow for extreme levels of specificity, making any post visible or invisible to select groups you can choose and customize each time you post. Take the time to explore the levels of privacy control available to you on your social media profiles so that you can customize your posts accordingly.
Another strategy to consider is changing or altering your first or last name so that you are not easily searchable. Using a nickname, middle name, or even a silly character name could deter unwanted cyber stalking and leave your social media accounts untouched.
And, if all else fails, you can simply deactivate your existing social media accounts while searching for a new job.
For tips on how to add value to your social media accounts and actually increase your chances of getting hired using social networks, click here.
Whatever you choose, be sure to stay smart with your social media choices to land the job of your dreams!