In a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 77% of respondents reported that they used social media to check out potential applicants. With the majority of HR professionals accepting social media profiles, photos and posts as a way to evaluate a potential employee, applicants can’t overlook the possibilities – or the pitfalls of social media on the job search.
LinkedIn vs Job Boards
As employers become more social media savvy, LinkedIn has become more of a professional networking site; a recent report by Social Media Today reveals that about ¾ of all employers post jobs or look for new employees on the site. While job boards like Monster.com are still relevant, LinkedIn may offer more targeted opportunities. LinkedIn also has a useful feature that allows you to see who has viewed your profile; this comes in handy if you’ve recently applied for a position or are actively interviewing.
Unofficial Background Check
A quick perusal of your social media feeds, profiles and posts could serve as an unofficial background check or social proof of your identity and personal brand. Unless your Twitter feed is set to private, a prospective employer can view all of your past Tweets, photos and your current profile.
If you are working hard to build your image as a professional all week, then posting half naked selfies on Twitter or Instagram on the weekend, you may end up damaging your career opportunities in a big way. Set your accounts to private, or post very selectively if you are concerned about the impact your social media posting will have on your hireability.
Searchable in a Variety of Ways
Your private accounts may not be as private as you think. Site terms are updated all the time, and if you miss an update, you could be exposing your personal life to anyone who wants to take a look, including potential employers.
Facebook recently offered users a way to search for friends using a mobile number. You may have even been prompted to enter your number or confirm it on Facebook; as of fall 2015, anyone with your phone number can actually view your Facebook profile, even if you have not accepted a friend request. You can get around this by modifying your privacy settings, but the key takeaway is that your profiles and posts on any site are not as protected or private as you thought.
Social Media Posts Stay Forever
If you are actively looking for a new position or want to make sure your personal brand is the best it can be, it may be worth going post diving to make sure even your older entries are presenting the image you want. Your posts don’t just disappear; they simply move further down on your timeline and are still searchable.
It is worth reviewing your older posts to make sure they represent the image you want to project when you are actively looking for work or hoping to be considered for a new position. You may not even remember making a post or adding an image that an employer might see as inappropriate or troubling, but it will still show up on your page for anyone willing to look.
Your social medial profiles and posts can work for you or against you. Used the right way, your social media network can help you make connections and build your brand; used poorly and your posts and profiles could cost you a great opportunity.