We’ve now reached a point where social personas and the professional world just can’t be separated. What you do in your off time doesn’t directly affect your business, but it could have serious indirect implications. That’s why companies are starting to take a harder look at how job candidates present themselves online.
How Social Media Factors Into the Interview Process
Do a quick search for your name and see what comes up. Not too much most likely, but start clicking through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn and the story of your social life will unfold.
If you think your name isn’t going to be Googled by managers before an interview, you’d be wrong. A CareerBuilder.com survey found that 37% of managers are using social media to screen applicants. Another recent study found that managers were ruling out up to 70% of applicants strictly based on finding unsavory social media moments. It seems unfair, but what gets posted online could keep you from even lining up an interview.
What managers are looking at on social sites:
- Whether or not you present yourself in a professional manner
- Whether you’d be a good fit for the company culture
- Your qualifications
- How well-rounded you are
Reasons managers decide not to hire based on social media:
- Inappropriate photos
- Evidence of drinking and/or drug use
- Poor communication skills
- Negative conversation about current/previous employers
- Discriminatory comments
On the flipside, social media can help open doors to job opportunities. It is a form of networking, after all. If you approach it with a professional mindset, as if it’s another resource in your resume building toolbox, then there’s a good chance social media can help get you hired rather than slamming doors shut.
Having a Social Presence as Part of Your Job
Interestingly enough some people are finding themselves at the center of social media accounts for their job. From YouTube videos to Twitter accounts, businesses want a social presence, and often a person in the office gets tapped to be the “face” of the business.
In this situation your personality will give way to the business persona. The social accounts mimic the way you would interact with others if you were manning a booth at a convention. This type of social media opportunity can be a huge resume builder for future jobs if done right, and might be something worth pointing out and linking to on your resume.
The Dos and Don’ts: Using Social Media to Increase Job Cred
Social media can work for you or against you in the professional world. Being mindful about the way you’re using it is the best way to harness its power to improve your professional persona.
Don’t Forgo Social Media Entirely – There’s no reason to black out all your social accounts just because you think it makes you look less professional. It’s all about how you use them, so cleaning the accounts up would be more beneficial than deleting them. LinkedIn is a prime example of social media that’s centered around improving your professional life. Think of it like an interactive resume. Another consideration is that if you have no social presence at all it may appear as if you’re a social outsider or not current on the latest tech.
Do Consider Replacing Facebook with Google+ – The reason – circles. You can bucket people into different groups so that your personal and professional life are a little more separated online.
Do Be Yourself – No one is in business attire all the time. Showing who you are as a person can be beneficial when it comes to getting hired.
Do Tell Friends Not to Tag You on Facebook – The biggest problem with social media for professionals is that you can’t control what others do. However, you can ask your friends not to tag you in Facebook photos so you won’t show up in an image search.
Don’t Get Overzealous on Instagram – Instagram has made it easy to share images and short messages in seconds. The biggest professional problem is that a lot of people get snap happy when they’re out on the town with friends. Having a selfie obsession can also appear unprofessional. Use the settings to make your photos and videos private so only approved people can see them.
Do Consider Setting Up a Separate Instagram Account for Professional Photos – This is a great idea for just about any professional, not just creative types that produce visuals. You can upload photos of your speaking engagements, booths at conventions or even a new city that you just visited for work.
Don’t Use Vulgarity – First off, it can be offensive even to friends. But more importantly there’s no quicker way to make yourself look unprofessional than by advertising you use vulgarity on a regular basis.
Do be Articulate in What You Post – You can and should express your opinions, just do so in a way that shows how thoughtful and articulate you are.
Do be Selective with Sharing on Facebook – It’s best to use the most conservative privacy settings possible on Facebook to limit what gets seen by people that aren’t your “friends.” But keep in mind your profile picture and wall photo will always be seen by outsiders.
Don’t Complain About Your Job – Airing your professional dirty laundry and complaints is one of the biggest red flags for job interviewers. Likewise, it’s best not to mention insider information before the company has had a chance to announce it themselves.
Do be Prepared to Stand by Your Social Interactions Online – Before each post, tweet and comment think about how you would react if a boss asked you about it. You’ve got to be prepared to stand behind whatever you say and do online. If you’d be embarrassed or ashamed when asked about it in person, it’s probably best to forgo the posting.
Do Use Social Media to Learn More about a Company – Just as hiring managers are using social media to learn more about who you are, you can use it to get a better feel for a company. The whole point of business social media accounts is to make a more personal connection and show the people behind the company. Social accounts can give you a better idea of whether or not you’d fit into the company culture.