There’s absolutely no denying that social media plays a huge role in our modern lives. For most of us, it’s something that we interact with every day. It’s a place where you can show off to the world, keep connected with the people you care deeply about, and have your voice heard.

We tend to share a lot about ourselves online and employers know this better than a lot of people. When applying for a new job you should expect your prospective employer to check out your socials. Be careful; what you post online could make or break you landing that dream job.

WHY EMPLOYERS CHECK YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

You may be wondering as to why an employer would want to check on your socials. After all, they’re supposed to be a private place between you and your friends right? Wrong! Whatever you decide to post online is published for the whole world to see. This includes potential employers.

It shouldn’t be that surprising that employers are doing this. After all, social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn are being used now more than ever in the hunt for jobs. Social media isn’t just for fun anymore; using social media to find a job is becoming more and more widespread by the day.

Having someone looking into your social media doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In many cases, it can work in your favor. Everything that you post online helps build a picture of who you are. Employers want to have an understanding of this picture to see if you’d be a good fit for the company. Your opinions, interests, and hobbies might align with a specific project the company is working on, or the values of the organization, making you the ideal fit.

You might have an attention-grabbing resume but today that is simply not enough. Posting articles and opinion pieces about your industry can also be a great look. Imagine you work in a call center with a busy phone line. Recently you’ve managed to implement a call park system to improve flexibility. Making a post about it presents you as an expert in your field.

Then there’s the flip side. Employers want to weed out candidates who aren’t going to be a good fit. Perhaps a candidate posts derogatory remarks, uses foul language, or posts immature or inappropriate pictures. Employers want to avoid bringing in negative influences who risk tarnishing the company’s image.

WHAT EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR

We’ve spoken about why employers screen candidates’ social media accounts, but what exactly are they looking for? It’s not like you can simply hand them a feedback survey. With a good understanding of what employers are looking for, you can help create an online presence that works for you.

To Verify And Make Sure You Are Who You Say You Are

One of the biggest reasons an employer would want to check your socials is to verify that you are, as a matter of fact, who you say you are.

Put yourself into the hiring manager’s shoes for a minute. You’ve read a candidate’s resume and cover letter and everything looks great. It stipulates that a prospective employee attended a prestigious college and they’ve been awarded a degree that fits the company’s needs. You decide to do some research on their Facebook before calling them in. But, when you get there – shock horror! The candidate has lied. It even states that they attended an entirely different college altogether.

This raises a serious red flag for the hiring manager. They’ve discovered contradictory information that doesn’t match what the candidate declared. This doesn’t just apply to education, but to all aspects of your application. A candidate who lies in their application is highly unlikely to be a good hire.

To Make Sure You’re Not Engaging in Illegal Behaviour 

It’s surprising what people are willing to post online. It’s not unheard of for people to even post pictures and videos of themselves engaging in illegal behavior. This is a quick way to ensure you don’t get the job. A candidate who behaves criminally and so openly is a risk, likely to damage the company’s reputation.

To Avoid Hiring Negative Employees 

We all know that toxic people are no fun to be around, especially in the workplace. Just a single negative attitude can suck all the joy out of the office. Negative behavior and language can lower the morale of the rest of your team, wreaking havoc to your workflow.

When people from outside the company engage with a negative individual, they’re going to have a negative impression of the company. After all, employees represent the organizations that they work for. If an employer spots toxic behavior such as derogatory or discriminatory remarks, bullying, and other negative behavior on a candidate’s socials, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll bring that attitude to work.

To Check You Haven’t Made Derogatory Comments About a Previous Employer

Negative comments about an organization aren’t great for reputation. They’re also completely unprofessional. Hiring managers want to check that the candidates they’re considering don’t have these kinds of social media leanings, after all, they may be in the limelight next.

To Discover Professional References

Hiring managers want to know all about you and your past experiences. There are likely some hidden gems in your social media that you might have forgotten to include in your resume or cover letter. Try to imagine that you’re applying for a job at a business that’s struggling with website downtime. If you have experience tackling this sort of issue and have posted about it, it makes you a pretty valuable hire.

Maybe you have tons of people endorsing your work, showing you off as a reliable and capable worker. Employers are much more likely to trust in your experience if you have other people backing you.

Candidates who engage in social work are often seen as valuable assets to a company. If this is you, don’t be shy – share it with the world. It’s these kinds of posts that can go a long way towards helping you secure that job.

WHY YOU SHOULD PERFORM A SOCIAL MEDIA SCREENING

The internet has been around for a long time. Majority of us have been using it for decades. Accounts have been created, posts posted, and then forgotten about. The result is that we’re often clueless about what content is floating about on the internet with our names on it. Think embarrassing pictures on MySpace of you glugging an alcopop from your teenage years – it might have seemed felt a good idea then and there, but now it’s just plain embarrassing.

70% of employers use social media when screening candidates during the hiring process. It’s essential that your social media profiles don’t let you down.

It’s important to know what’s out there so that you can manage it yourself. If you find something that shows you in a bad light – take it down. Much like how a call hunt helps to manage calls effectively, you need to effectively manage your online presence.

HOW TO PERFORM A SOCIAL MEDIA SCREENING

It’s clear as day: when applying for jobs, you should be expecting your prospective employer to be looking at your social media feeds. Here’s how exactly to perform your own social media screening on yourself.

Step 1: Search the Web Using Private Browsing

Online services are designed to be personalized. The results that two people get from a search engine can be very different, specific to each individual’s needs, interests and location. To get around this, open up a private browsing window. This will let you see what an employer would see when searching your name for the very first time.

Having a look on Google is a great start, but checking another search engine such as Bing will have you completely covered. See what’s out there: profiles, pictures, videos, and articles on you. Beware, you might find some very embarrassing pictures you’d much rather forget. It’s probably best to delete them now before anyone else sees them.

If any unfavorable photos or information appears, you might have to contact the publisher to arrange to have it removed. In extreme cases, you will need to consider taking legal action to have the content taken down.

Step 2: Scour Your Social Media Accounts

If your accounts aren’t private it’s time to get scrutinizing. Remember, the whole world is watching. Untag and delete ruthlessly. You can’t have anything that comes across as inappropriate linked to you. Say goodbye to the drunken photos, offensive language, and anything else that could be considered “bad behavior”.

Step 3: Make it Private

What if you don’t want to delete all your pictures? To you, they are memories and points of pride. Your drunken nights out aren’t anything that you’re ashamed of. Who doesn’t like to blow off a bit of steam every now and then anyway? If this sounds like you, make sure your account is set to private. That way only your friends can see precisely what you get up to.

HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

After trawling through all your old pictures and timelines it can be very tempting to just pull the plug on the whole social media screening thing. If you can resist it, don’t just delete your social accounts – make them work for you. This is essential as many employers are reluctant to employ a candidate with zero online presence. Here are some handy tips you can use to make social media work for you.

Be Careful About What You Post

You’ve just searched the internet looking for posts about yourself, followed by hours of careful curation. Don’t undo all of that hard work – think before posting on social media. Before hitting that post button, imagine what a prospective employer might think. Do they really want to see you passed out with Sharpie covering your forehead? In most cases, no they do not!

To reiterate: never, ever post anything that could be perceived as offensive, insensitive or illegal. This goes for posts that you like and share, too.

Don’t make posts bashing your previous employers or co-workers. It isn’t a good look at all. This makes you come across as unprofessional, and slightly mean. Sure, you might have had a fallout at that company producing business phone apps, but the world doesn’t need to know about it. Some things are best kept private.

Post the Right Things

Hiring managers want to hire qualified candidates. Your social media feed can help show off your expertise and professionalism. Having LinkedIn connections endorse your skills proves to a potential employer that you’re great at what you do.

Use your social media to show off a little bit. Share what you do in your profile. Tell the world that you’re passionate and show off your strengths. For example, you might want to land a job where you’ll be involved with mobile testing. If that’s the case, post about mobile testing challenges you’ve overcome, blog spots about the industry, and links to your latest projects.

If you’re looking for a marketing job, for example, it’s not enough to just highlight your marketing skills on your resume anymore. With the right proof, an employer will have faith in what you have previously told them.

Make sure your employer knows you’re an expert. Sharing links to work that you have achieved gives you a chance to make a great impression. You might even want to make a not-so-humble brag about some of your recent achievements. It can feel a bit strange writing about yourself like this, but it’s something you should get used to. This is the type of content your future employer loves to see.

Be Yourself

It might sound like a cliché, but be yourself online. Show off your interests, hobbies, and unique personality. As long as you keep everything professional, things will work in your favor. When you’re transparent about who you are, it makes you appear more likable, increasing your chances of getting called in for an interview.

Maybe you’re impressed with how a dial out conference call can improve the workflow of meetings. Post about it! Don’t worry about being perceived as a bit nerdy. Employers love seeing what you care about and what makes you passionate.

Post Professional Profile Pictures

When using the power of social media to land a job, you need to make sure to post an image that positively reflects who you are. Post pictures that show you to be a professional. This doesn’t always mean you need to be in a suit and tie, but a smart appearance can go a long way. Make sure that you’re the only person in the photo, too. Having multiple people can make it confusing to figure out who you are. You need to be the focal point here.

Your picture should include your head and also your shoulders. Make sure to smile as it makes you appear more approachable. If you have more than one social media account, use the same profile picture on each one. This makes you more recognizable, not only to your followers but also to recruiters.

Remember that your profile picture is likely to be the first thing a hiring manager sees when searching your name. First impressions can mean everything. Make sure it’s a good one.

GET TO WORK

It’s a fact of life: social media can prevent you from getting a job. It’s time you got scouring the web to make sure that nothing is holding you back in your job search, least of all yourself and your social media profiles. Get rid of anything and everything that could be harmful to your career prospects.

With the increase in social media usage, privacy is being decreased in equal measure. Some potential employees will see this as a negative aspect but there really has been no better time to boost your own personal brand.

If you have absolutely no online presence, it could raise a few flags with employers. At the bare minimum, ensure that you have a LinkedIn account, with experience showing that matches that of your resume. This way, you have a social media presence to strengthen your job application.While some candidates may feel as if their personal online space is being invaded, you need to remember that we’re living in a world that is changing faster than ever before. There’s more information being produced and shared than ever before.

Why not take the one step further and make social media the reason that you do land a job? Today’s job market is currently more competitive than ever, so you need an edge. Don’t just tell your employer you’re great at what you do. Show them what you post online. If you’ve taken the time and steps to develop your skillset, why keep it quiet? Shout about it. You never know, it might be the very thing that secures you that dream job.

Author’s Bio:

Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business web conferencing and communications platform that helps manage remote teams. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Here is her LinkedIn.

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