5 Reasons Employers Are Checking You Out On Social Media (And What You Can Do About It)
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.
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 Flags
I 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.
Countermeasure: Scrape any offending material from your social media accounts ASAP.
2. To Gauge Communication Skills
Excellent 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?
Countermeasure: Take a little extra time before posting to do a “final pass” on what you’ve written for quality.
3. To Identify Your True Ambitions
Employers 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.
Countermeasure: Do a Twitter “follow campaign” where you follow at least 25-50 leaders in your industry. Join well-known industry organizations and groups with a strong Internet footprint (bonus points for organizations which list member profiles on their site). Closely track which companies you’re following on LinkedIn to make sure there are no surprises.
4. To Evaluate Culture Fit
What’s your “voice”? If you want to work for a disruptive tech startup and your tone on social media is one of questioning the status quo, that could signal strong cultural fit. The opposite is also true: if you want to work for a staid company with conservative values, and your voice seems to go against that, it might be a warning sign of things not matching up.
Countermeasure: Do what feels authentic to you. If you can show how your engaging on social media is an extension of who you are (and what you’re bringing to the table), then the right companies will see it for the value-add it is. Notice I said the right companies. If there’s a big mismatch between the companies you’re targeting and how you engage, ask yourself: is this really the right move to make?
5. To Gauge Value
Are you consistently coming up with original material that showcases your talents? If you’re creative, do you have an amazing Pinterest or Tumblr going? Do you have a blog on a site like Medium that shares your unique perspective on the industry or some other professional aspect? This can significantly increase your perceived worth in the eyes of employers.
Countermeasure: Shoot for an 80/20 ratio when it come to original content. For every eight things you share or comment on based on other people’s work, add at least two pieces of original content into the mix.
About the author
Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, LinkedIn expert, and interview coach. Surveyed clients report a 40-60% reduction in placement times through working with him, and typically secure offers at least $10-40K higher. Schedule a free LIVE Resume Critique with Anish, or connect with him on LinkedIn.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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