Do Hiring Managers Look at Your Social Media?
The short answer? Yes. A full 93% of employers report that they will search for a candidate’s social media profiles during the course of the interview process. Of course, as more and more of our tasks, recreation, and daily lives in general take place online, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that hiring managers often look to your online presence for a glimpse into your potential as a job candidate. Afterall, they’re after information about you that can help inform their hiring decisions, and social media profiles can be a vital font of valuable information – good and bad.
Don’t Get Disqualified
The interview process is your time to shine! You get to talk about your accomplishments, qualifications, skills, awards – the list goes on. Naturally, interviewees are inclined to put their best foot forward. The problem for hiring managers is that doesn’t always (or almost ever) tell the whole story. A well-polished resume, a compelling cover letter, and even a dazzling interview can often fall short of answering some questions that can be readily answered on social media. The problem for hopeful candidates is that often social media profiles don’t tell the whole story either, and a single thoughtless mistake can be enough to nudge hiring managers in another direction. Over half of all employers have disqualified a candidate based on their social media presence alone.
Three Mistakes You Need to Avoid
One great way to look at your social media presence is to think of it as your own personal brand. It’s easy to think about your social media profiles in terms of what you want your peers to see, but you also need to keep in mind what prospective employers are able to see. This means being more discerning when it comes to the text and media you post to your profiles or being more careful about your privacy settings (or doing both). Inappropriate content is one of the things that prospective employers are on the lookout for when scanning through your online presence. You don’t have to simply disappear from the internet altogether, in fact, 47% of employers note that they wouldn’t call someone for an interview if they looked for their online profiles but were unable to find them at all. And showing off some of your character can be a good thing too, and it can help work to humanize and endear you to hiring managers, but you do want to be careful to avoid inappropriate content. Overly provocative photos, excessive drinking, drug use, etc. will all come off as inappropriate to prospective employers.
Another thing that employers look for is dishonesty. Dishonesty in a candidate can present itself in many different ways, but some of the most obvious things you want to avoid are lying about qualifications, lying about an absence from work, or even dishonesty in situations unrelated to your professional life. Showcasing dishonesty or a lack of integrity, in general, is a big red flag for potential employers. Employers often have to put a lot of trust in their employees, so they won’t be eager to work with someone who has evidence of dishonesty on their social media. You may think that the solution here is to simply hide any evidence of dishonesty from your public feed, but the best thing to do is simply eliminate the dishonesty itself. If, for example, you have lied about or exaggerated a qualification on your resume, the solution is to update your resume to be more honest and to more accurately reflect you as a candidate and an individual. The truth is, employers are often capable of finding these things out eventually. Falsifying a reference, lying about a previous role, or padding your qualifications won’t go unnoticed for long. While you certainly don’t want to showcase the evidence of that on your social media, a more complete solution is to simply not do it in the first place or to correct the mistake if you have. Likewise, while being careful not to boast on social media about times you may have lied about an absence in the past is a great first step, the real solution that I recommend comes when you decide to no longer lie about absences. In short, honesty is what you are after in this situation, not covering up dishonesty.
The concept of professionalism can cover a lot of ground for potential employers – it’s not one single thing, but a number of contributing factors. Everything from having an offensive username to having poor communication skills or an overuse of foul language on your profiles can come off as unprofessional. You especially want to be careful about avoiding badmouthing previous places of employment or fellow employees. While social media may seem like a great outlet to let off steam, and while you are bound to run into legitimate annoyances from time to time, it is still best to keep these things as private as possible. Even posting too frequently, especially during your work hours, can come off as a negative to potential employers which might nudge them in a different direction. While there is no shortage of what could constitute unprofessionalism, the best way to combat it before it happens is to think about what you are about to post from the point of view of a hiring manager. A lot of platforms also offer tools or methods for viewing your profile as someone who isn’t your friend or follower. This can give you keen insight into what the public is capable of seeing on your page based on your current privacy settings. From here you can work to delete or hide any post that you feel wouldn’t be suitable to be seen by a hiring manager.