Think your status updates, tweets and pins are for the eyes of friends and family only? Think again. According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, the number of employers taking to the web to research applicants before offering interviews has been steadily increasing- from 39% of employers in 2013, to 43% in 2014 and 52% in 2015. Related: 5 Reasons Why Employers Are Looking You Up On Social Media Why? Consider the risk of taking on someone new. YOU know that you're a rock star when it comes to your work, but what about a company that doesn't know you? How can they be assured that you're not a flake, or don't hold highly controversial viewpoints, or simply won't mesh well with their existing culture? That's where social media snooping comes into play. Rather than deleting your accounts and "going off the grid" let's understand WHAT employers are looking for so that we can project the right image and control vulnerabilities.
1. To Identify Red FlagsI can't stress this enough: social media engagement works from a place of positivity, not trolling. How critical are you of others? Have you been sharing politically or religiously sensitive material? These are all potential red flags to be aware of. Some other things employers commonly look for:
- Mismatch between what's communicated on someone's resume and their social media accounts.
- Bullying behavior, negative comments about others.
- Badmouthing former employers and co-workers. This is a HUGE turn-off.
- Evidence of drug use, stealing, and other fireable offenses.
- Disclosure of confidential information about customers or clients. If you're a healthcare provider who is chatting about people you treat in violation of HIPAA laws, that's a huge no-no.
2. To Gauge Communication SkillsExcellent writing skills are one of the most valued attributes a professional can bring to the table, at all seniority levels. Here are a few things employers will be on the lookout for:
- When you share updates and posts, how clearly do you communicate the points you're trying to make? If you're talking about your industry, do you instantly show expertise?
- Do you use proper spelling, grammar, punctuation?
- Can you engage in exchanges that inspire thought, interest, and engagement?
3. To Identify Your True AmbitionsEmployers aren't dumb: OF COURSE you'll tell them that the job in question is a perfect fit and the sum total of your ambitions. But what do you REALLY feel? Will this job be just another paycheck? Here are some elements they look out for:
- What's your footprint within the industry? Are you connected with major influencers and/or have a following going? This lends greater credibility.
- What companies are you following on Twitter, LinkedIn and other professional sites? If you're following a lot of companies in the San Diego region, that can tell an employer that you're highly motivated to find something in that region. Similarly, if there are a lot of companies within a certain niche, that can tell an employer that you have a specialized interest in that direction.