In June, CareerBuilder released findings on the number of employers turning to social networking sites to research candidates. The 2014 survey, conducted by Harris Poll, found that 51% of employees who research job candidates online said they’ve found content that caused them to not hire the candidate, up 8% from the previous year and 17% from 2012. Only 12% of employers surveyed said they don’t currently research candidates on social media, but they also reported that they plan to start in the near future.
If you think your online presence could be poisoning your job chances, it’s probably time to detox your social networks and rid your accounts of content that could keep you from getting a job.
Step 1: Get Rid of the Harmful Stuff Fast
When it comes to detoxing your social media, the first thing to do is to remove anything harmful from your accounts. The CareerBuilder survey reported that some of the most common reasons employers gave for passing on a candidate included:
- 46% for provocative or inappropriate photographs or information
- 41% for information posted about the candidate drinking or using drugs
- 36% for bad-mouthing a previous company or fellow employee
- 32% for poor communication skills
- 28% for discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.
- 22% for lying about qualifications
As you start to detox your social accounts, think about what employers are and are not looking for in a candidate. Take a look at your history online and search for anything that could be considered unprofessional or could be misconstrued. If it hurts your chances of getting hired, ask yourself if it’s worth keeping. Then, start deleting. Edit errors. Remove inappropriate posts you’re tagged in. Change your profile photo if it doesn’t reflect the professional image you’d like to portray. Really take some time to investigate your accounts. It may not be enough to switch out your Facebook profile photo for example. You may also need to delete some of the old profile photos entirely from your account to keep people from looking at your profile history. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to let go of the past for a brighter future.
Step 2: Setup Boundaries and Check Privacy Settings
Once you’ve deleted the things that could be harmful to your job search from your social accounts, take a look at your privacy settings. If you don’t want potential employers looking at your Facebook page for example, make sure only your friends can see the information you share on your profile. If you’re going to leave your Facebook profile open, turn on your Timeline review so you can approve posts you are tagged in before they appear on your page. If you don’t approve a post that you’re tagged in, remember that you may still need to go remove the tag from your friends post. Facebook and other networks are constantly updating their privacy settings, so it’s important to stay up to date on your settings to know who can see your accounts.
Now that you’ve checked your privacy settings and cleaned up your accounts, take some time to think about what you will and will not post in the future. Give yourself some boundaries or create some rules of thumb to follow to keep your social media free of job killing toxins. Tell yourself you will proof read every status update before you post it and try reading your updates out loud before you share them. This will help you catch any grammatical errors and give you time to stop and think about whether or not you should even post it.
Step 3: Replace the Bad Stuff with the Good Stuff
Your social media presence doesn’t have to be toxic to your job search. In fact, it can actually help you get an interview or even a job! While the CareerBuilder survey found that 51% of employers didn’t hire an applicant because of something they saw on social media, 33% of employers also said they’ve found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate as well. And, 23% said they found information that directly led to hiring the candidate!
Some of the most common reasons employers gave for hiring a candidate based on their social networking presence included:
- 46% of employers felt the applicant was a good fit with their company culture
- 45% said the candidate’s background information supported their qualifications
- 43% said their online presence conveyed a professional image
- 40% said the applicant was well-rounded and showed a wide range of interests
If you want to make the most out of your social media networks to help you land a job, then replace any harmful information with beneficial information that could actually help give your career a boost. A great place to start is with your LinkedIn account since it’s already geared toward helping you make professional connections online. Take time to fill out as much information as you can. Provide links to your work. If you volunteered for something in your community, post about it on all of your accounts. Share industry related information to help show that you’re an expert in your field. Detoxing your social media isn’t just about getting rid of what’s bad. It’s about sharing the good things. Find ways to demonstrate your skills and abilities as well as your personality and your strengths, and you’ll be well on your way to having a robust and healthy image online that could help you stand out from other applicants.
How do you ensure your social presence is free of job-killing toxins? Share about it in our comment’s section below!
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