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January 25, 2012
Being Too Social Can Impact Your Job Search
 
Most of us have a presence on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ (to name but a few), and oftentimes we’re not thinking before our fingers hit the keyboard or touch pads.

Now imagine that you’re in the process of searching for a job and you tweet or share something rather risqué. Don’t think it cannot come back to haunt you. Along with criminal background checks and drug testing, social media searches are becoming more and more a part of the norm for businesses looking to find the right hires.

As more and more job applicants are discovering, their social media ventures can in fact come back to bite them. Per some examples:
  • Jill, who is looking for a job in sales, goes to a dinner party with her girlfriends and tweets that she has no idea how she got home after drinking so much. She doesn’t even remember how much she had to drink. Think an employer reading this is going to want her representing the company at networking cocktail events with clients?
  • Bob, who is searching for a position as a school teacher, shares on Facebook with a friend about having to discipline his kids over the weekend. Among the things he notes is making his child stay locked in his room except for bathroom and food breaks. Think a school district seeing this share won’t have some reservations about hiring Bob, especially given today’s litigious environment?
According to a Jobvite survey done in the last year with some 800 HR staffers and headhunters nationwide, close to 90% of businesses said they planned to use social media venues to locate job candidates. For job prospects, this is both good and bad news.

On the plus side, it is another opportunity to gain exposure to companies through such social media tools as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. On the other side, it means candidates need to double back and make sure there are no social media remarks on their end that could paint them in a negative light. Within its own client data, Jobvite reported that nearly three-fourths of businesses said they analyze individuals’ social media chatter after receiving a referral.

Among the things employers are looking for when reviewing the social media habits of applicants are:
  • Getting an idea of the individual’s personality and how they would fit within the company;
  • If their profile and social media comments back up their professional qualifications;
  • If the individual appears to be well-rounded and a good communicator.
Some of the areas job applicants should avoid when using social media include:
  • Posting questionable photos, i.e. of a sexual nature, handling guns, etc.;
  • Making negative remarks about a former or current employer (someone who is currently employed but looking for another job);
  • Making racist comments and/or remarks that could be perceived as controversial;
  • Noting any drug issues.
As more people find themselves using social media, there are more companies providing social media background checks for businesses.

The company will take an applicant’s name and scan the web for any social media trail that the individual has. They will then forward the information, good or bad, to the employer looking to hire. It is then up to the employer to determine if the applicant is a good fit, may be a questionable hire, or is simply not someone you’d want working for your company given their comments and/or images on a social media venue.

Just as prospective employers may run a check, applicants can also do the same, leading them to see if there is anything questionable floating around on the Internet that might hamper their ability to get a job.

If your social media habits need some cleaning up, consider:
  • Giving your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ pages, etc. a thorough review before you send off that first cover letter/resume. If anything even appears questionable, take it down;
  • Sharing positive items on such sites like non-controversial blogs, professional attachments, awards, etc.;
  • Watching who you agree to be online friends with. If you have a bunch of porn stars following you and vice-versa, a potential employer could certainly frown on that;
  • By all means, don’t broadcast to the world you are looking for work if you are presently employed. That is certainly a good way to lose your current employment and truly need a new job.
Given that more employers are tuning into the social media habits of applicants, it behooves those individuals to make sure their SM ventures do not cross the line.

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