Written by: Mary Pat Withem

People in the world today have incorporated social media into their lives. It has become integral in many settings including but not limited to, selecting the best pair of shoes to choosing where to eat for dinner.

If people utilize social media in the right manner, it can also be used to find job listings and gain an opportunity to work at the job of their dreams. As difficult as it may be to use social media correctly, people do not take the time to learn how to adequately use social media without impacting their image to the public negatively. The lack of knowledge could inadvertently remove a candidate from an employer’s list.

Job searching these days include a lot of aspects and can be confusing. Job postings are everywhere but a large percentage of jobs are not posted on job boards and that is why a lot of people use job seeking companies to help them find a job instead. It takes a lot of time and effort to go into multiple websites for individualized companies (i.e. Microsoft or Sprint) to find that “one” job. Some of these same people also post a lot of things on social media that are damaging their potential at finding a job.
Yes, employers have been using profiles from Facebook, updates from Twitter, photographs from Instagram, and even blog posts people write to determine whether they want to hire the person. Many people use vulgar language and post self-incriminating photos online which leads to bad first impressions. Employers are looking at photos and postings that are publicly available before they decide whether to answer a request for an interview with all their potential candidates.

Is this ethical? We don’t know the answer to that legally, but it is something to pay attention to. Employers are saying that when people are posting irresponsible things on Facebook, that is an indicator that they could be just as irresponsible in the workplace. 

Nearly two in five companies (37 percent) use social networking sites to research job candidates, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder. Of the employers who do not research candidates on social media, 15 percent said their company prohibits the practice. Eleven percent report they do not currently use social media to screen, but plan to start.

In a 2009 study of employers who conduct online background checks, 45 percent said they used social media to screen job candidates. (CHICAGO, April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/)

Some employers believe that how people present themselves on their public profiles is an indicator of whether the candidate fit in their culture at work. When they say, “culture” they mean the type of behavior and norms that the employees have within the workplace. It is important that people fit in the culture because having somebody come in that does not fit within the culture means it is very possible that person will be a quick exit and/or disruptive to the workplace environment.  Things like culture and “value add” (it costs less to pay the candidate and get all their qualities than to pay somebody and train them to gain the potential candidates’ additional knowledge and/or network base) are a big deal to employers these days and if the candidate is not going to fit in their culture or are not a value add based on public profiles available, the interviewers are not going to hire the candidate no matter how good their resume is.

So with these issues in place, people may think that there’s no hope. That is not true, individuals only need to be more aware of what they are putting on social media and ensure that it is a true reflection of who they are, professionally. Here are some suggested things to do to help improve chances at finding a job.

– Remove photographs of  inappropriate activities people would not want their employer to see
– Pay attention to what is being said on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. Be sure what is being said is suitable for the professional setting
– Connect with people from areas of interest for employment that would be beneficial
– Join school and/or sorority/fraternity-based alumni pages and be active. This may mean one or two posts a month
– Like, follow, and comment positively on company pages that are of interest.
– Be aware of what other people say on public profiles and monitor photos tagged that may affect possible job placement
– Link to personal blogs but be sure they reflect the person they represent in a good way.

It may sound like a lot of work but one or two hours a week is all that is needed to keep social media profiles up to date. This can be spread over the entire week or all at once. It is also important to maintain a consistent appearance across the profiles. Don’t go all out for a month and then nothing for several months. This also shows that there is no consistency and quality of work isn’t going to be up to par.

Candidates may feel like this is unfair but many personal traits roll over to the workplace and employers are becoming more and more aware of this. They are also having to pay attention to racial slur comments and behavior that is evident on Facebook and/or Twitter. When somebody becomes an employee, they are a representative of the company and if they have no problem being public about discriminatory feelings towards others then that can become a big problem for the company in the long run.

Employers are looking for permanent employees, people need to be willing to show that they are a good and qualified candidate for employment. Be sure to pay attention to what is posted on social media and say only what candidates want their boss to see because they will see what the candidates have to say, one way or another.