We all know that we should censor our social media identities when hunting for a job, and it is well documented as to why. Yet do you understand that having no social media presence can also affect your employability, as can being well connected online?

Every hire is a risk. Naturally employers want to minimise risk. So while your resume and your references are being scrutinised, your social media activity is also being reviewed to determine if you embody the type of employee they want representing their brand. But what if you cannot be found? Have you set your privacy settings so high that not a single trace of you can be detected? Or have you always abstained from engaging in such social activities? Regardless of the reason for your lack of online profile, employers become suspicious when they cannot find a hint of you. And because it is not common for one to not have any presence on social media, employers begin to think that you have something to hide, or perhaps worse, that you are not tech savvy!

In the context of job hunting, it is advantageous for one to at least have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn profile and a Twitter account. Why? Because my socially awkward recluse, data shows that 93 per cent of hiring managers will review a candidates social profile prior to determining if they will or will not hire them. If your social media status reveals some really great facts about you, your chances of landing the job are elevated. And what exactly are employers looking for when they cyber stalk us? They want to see someone who is responsible, has good judgement, is positive and professional. So if you love to volunteer, give blood and rescue sick and abandoned puppies, put it on your Facebook page!!

What are employers seeing on our online profiles that has them placing our job application in the ‘definitely not’ pile? Poor grammar and spelling, objectionable views and behaviours, bad mouthing of previous employers and evidence that suggests we have lied about our experience and qualifications. Documented research reveals the key reasons that employers who use social media to vet a candidate and don’t hire them are:

  • The candidate lied about their qualifications
  • The candidate posted inappropriate comments and/or photos
  • The candidate posted negative comments about a former employer
  • Candidates posted content about the use of drugs
  • Candidates posted about their experiences with alcohol

In fact research reveals that 55 per cent of recruiters reconsidered their candidate choice based on what they found on the candidates social media posts. Of those 61 per cent resulted in a negative reconsideration. Hmm…how many of you job seekers are now making a mental note to clean up your social media profiles? And yes, I know you can protect your social media communications so that only family and friends can see your ‘in-jokes’, however don’t rely on security settings as they frequently change across the various platforms.

If you want your social media status to work in your favour when searching for a new job role, put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. Show examples of your previous work and community achievements. Connect with influencers and leading organisations in your career field. Contribute insightful comments to online articles and industry or world events. Your mutual connections and active social voice may even attract a potential employer with an offer to poach you from your current role. LinkedIn is notorious for this occurrence. In fact, your network can be seen as an asset to the potential employer. So even if you are not a fan of social media forums, you can use these channels to your advantage to get noticed and land your job of choice.

Social media can be a double edged sword when on the lookout for a new job role. Bottom line, be vigilant with what you post. Don’t publically communicate anything that you wouldn’t want your current or future employer to see. And don’t assume that your postings will never be a problem if they haven’t been already. Do be aware that social media is powerful. It can help you to express yourself beyond the pages of your resume. It can help you as an unknown be discovered. And when on the search for a new job role, that’s exactly what you are aiming to achieve. Let social media work for you.

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