Is Your Online Presence Hurting Your Chances of Finding a Job?

Brittany Carpenter| May 31, 2017| Job Seeker

It’s 2017, and time to embrace the fact that we live in a digital world. Chances are, you have at least one social media profile (or five), which you visit on a semi-frequent basis.  After all, Facebook has nearly 2 BILLION monthly users so it won’t come as a surprise to potential employers that you’re on one of them.

What may be a surprise, however, is that it is becoming common practice for employers to do a little digging into how you handle yourself online –and what they find may cost you a chance at landing a position. It turns out that over 60 percent of employers admit to screening a candidate online before they even consider hiring them.

If you’re searching for a job it’s time to rethink how you present yourself online.

This practice has increased drastically over the years (500 percent in the last decade), and will likely continue to grow. That means there is a pretty good chance that before someone even calls you in for an interview, they’re going to see if meeting with you is worth their time.

Employers are also looking to get a sense of who you are and how likely it is that you will fit into their company, which means going beyond a resume. Getting a taste of who you are as a person not only gives hiring managers a better understanding of your personality but also allows them to see how your behavior outside the office might reflect your job performance –whether that be positive or negative.

Looking for a job? It may be time to do some spring cleaning and give your social media profiles a bit of a makeover.

How It Can Hurt

According to a recent CareerBuilder study, on average  48 percent of hiring managers have found information online that has influenced them not to hire a candidate. That’s right: nearly half of hiring managers surveyed found things online that cost people the job.

The top things that turned employers off were:

  • Bad-mouthing a previous employer
  • Risqué, inappropriate photographs or videos
  • Discriminatory comments involving race, religion, sexuality, gender, etc.
  • Evidence of drug use or heavy alcohol consumption
  • Poor communication skills

If there’s anything to learn, it’s that you should post with caution. Before hitting that send button, consider who might see the content that you’re sharing. You may get 100 likes on a Facebook rant but is the short-term validation really worth risking a job?

How It Can Help

The good news is that most hiring managers aren’t actually looking to find anything bad when they browse your pages. It’s more likely that they’re looking to see if there is any evidence to support your qualifications for the job –articles you have written, testimonials you’ve received from previous employers, an online portfolio, etc.

In fact, roughly one-third of employers who screened a candidate via social media reported that they actually found information that convinced them to hire a candidate, including:

  • A demonstration of good communication skills
  • Evidence of a wide range of interests
  • Personality that comes across as a good fit with company culture
  • Professional presence

By utilizing your social media accounts correctly, you might just be able to give yourself a competitive edge and land an interview over another candidate. The trick is knowing how to craft an image an employer would be happy to see.

What You Can Do

A good starting point is to Google yourself and see what comes up in the search results. That’s most likely where potential employers will start, so it’s worth taking a couple of minutes to make sure you’re happy with what they’ll find. Bonus points if your personal website (that has your resume attached) comes up in your search results! This will give employers another chance to look at your skill set and learn more about you. And if you don’t have one, you can create one for free with relative ease.

When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn? This is the social media profile employers are most likely to check out, so make sure your profile accurately reflects your current level of experience. Your LinkedIn profile picture should be a professional looking headshot.  If you’re not sure how they should look, do a quick Google search for this too.  It’s important that your photo is in focus, your clothing is professional, and that it’s easy to identify who you are in the photo (no group shots!)

It’s worthwhile to take some time to comb through your Facebook photos. We’re all human and like to enjoy ourselves on the weekends, but skip posting the late night bar runs and opt for posting pictures at the beach with friends or hiking instead. Use this rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t want your Grandmother to see a particular photo, it shouldn’t be on Facebook.

If privacy is a concern of yours, play with Facebook’s settings so that people who aren’t friends with you are limited in what they can see on your public profile. You can choose to make certain photo albums and statuses public, and keep the rest of your account private. Or, set it so that people who are not Facebook friends with you can only see your profile picture. Another easy way to hide your account is to change your last name so that it’s harder for people to find you.

It is also becoming popular for people to make more than one social media profile on a site. That is, two Facebook or Twitter accounts: One public and professional, another personal and private. Doing this allows you to showcase your professional side and still keep your private account where you don’t have to worry about filtering what you say and do online.

The appeal of social media is that it gives you a platform to express who you are and what you believe in –but if done carelessly, what you post can come to haunt you down the line. Before you hit that post button be sure to think twice about the kind of message you are sending, and if it will present you in a positive light. Social media can be a great asset to you professionally, and if you’re smart about it, you can use social media to help you rise above the statistics and land that dream job.