​How Social Media Can Influence Your Employment Chances

Recruiters these days actively use social media to find out more about the candidates they're interested in. CareerBuilder's 2018 survey for example uncovered some interesting, although not surprising information about social media and its relevance to job searches. 

  • Nearly two-thirds of recruiters use social media to find out more about applicants, flesh out resumes, cross check information, and just generally assess if a person will fit into their company culture
  • Over half of recruiters who use social media to research candidates say they've found something online that causes them to cross that person off their list before they even get to the contact stage
  • Nearly one half of recruiters say they are less likely to contact someone for an interview if they can't find them on social media

So why does having a social media profile matter so much when it comes to job hunting? Well, essentially because it tells them a lot about you that you won't necessarily tell them yourself! You are unlikely, for example, to rock up for an interview and admit to being racist, sexist, religiously intolerant, or any one of a host of other anti-social behaviours. However, your social media accounts could well let the cat out of the bag, which is why recruiters go looking through them.

Checking someone's social media profile also allows recruiters to cross check your education and work history. If you don't have any of this available on your social media profile, it will probably go against you. Likewise, recruiters will often check social media for evidence that you know something about the industry you're applying to work in. This is where sharing relevant articles and information online with followers and connections, participating in online discussions and so on can go a long way towards providing this evidence.

Then there's the personal stuff they want to know but may not be allowed to actually ask you face to face. Are you married? Do you have a religion? What are your hobbies? Do you appear to have a drinking problem, take drugs, swear a lot and so on.

What does this have to do with them you might ask? The short answer is - more than you might assume!

In today's working world, the lines between an employee's private and working lives have become very blurred. If you have a habit of being very outspoken and critical on social media whenever something upsets you, or like to post negative remarks about your employers or co-workers, a potential employer will almost certainly assume you'll post similar comments about them if you get annoyed or upset for some reason whilst in their employ. Over a third of recruiters in fact say they'll cross you off the short list if they find you're prone to making these types of posts on social media!

If the role you're applying for requires someone with good communication and literacy skills then constantly posting on social media using txt speak (u no wot kinda lingo) or similarly poor grammar, lousy spelling, and even poor punctuation, will severely hamper your chances of landing that type of job. Around one-third of recruiters in fact say finding this type of poor communication on social media has caused them to pass over candidates.

Likewise, if your social media profiles give the impression you have a substance abuse problem (ie contains photos of yourself on all night binges, hung over, passed out from drug use etc is not a good idea), that's going to go against you as well. Potential employers are somewhat charry about employing someone who, based on what they find out via your social media accounts, could wind up spending most of the time they're paying for either under the weather, or under the influence. Indeed, around 41% of recruiters surveyed in a 2014 survey by CareerBuilder admitted that finding these types of incriminating photos on social media have caused them to cross someone off their list. That figure is only likely to have grown since then.

On the subject of substance abuse….

Did you know? An Australian report found that lost productivity caused by substance abuse costs Australian businesses around AU$6 billion annually. Or that around 2 and a half million working days are lost every year for the same reason, costing the economy nearly $700 million. And that one tenth of Australian employees say they've been adversely affected by someone else in their workplace drinking or doing drugs ie they've either had to shoulder that person's workload as well as their own, which impacts their own productivity or causes them to work additional hours, they've been involved in an accident or close call with this person or the affected person has impacted their ability to do their job.

The figures are similar elsewhere – in the US it costs the economy well over US$800 billion in lost productivity, crime, and health care. Canadian figures indicate it costs their economy over CA$38 billion each year whilst in the UK the figure is nearly £18 billion. And so on. In other words, substance abuse problems cost the global economy billions of dollars every year and very few countries would be immune from this issue.

Therefore, it's hardly surprising many employers are not particularly interested in hiring someone whose social media profiles appear to indicate they have problems in this area. This is particularly the case in mining, which has some of the most dangerous workplace environments of all. So if you're on the hunt for a new job it would probably be wise to get rid of any incriminating photos of this nature that may be lurking around in your social media accounts!

And also whilst we're on the topic of incriminating social media content, one habit that seems to turn the most would be employers off (46% or almost half of them in the above mentioned survey), is the habit of posting 'inappropriate' content full stop, be it photos, comments, or information. According to the Law Insider website, 'inappropriate' from a legal perspective includes:
  • Engaging in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behaviour;
  • Violating the rules of conduct governing coaches, team players and spectators at a sports event;
  • Publicly insulting another person by abusive words or gestures in a manner intended to provoke a violent response; or
  • Intentionally subjecting another person to offensive physical contact.

Examples of inappropriate behaviour (from the same website) includes:
  • Inappropriate behaviour that reflects poorly on the associate and may impact TRP.
  • Inappropriate behaviour is all forms of harassment including sexual and racial harassment (over ¼ of recruiters say they've taken someone off their short list when they've found they've posted discriminatory content around gender, race and religion on social media)
  • Inappropriate behaviour includes, but is not limited to: the demonstration of poor judgement; lack of perception or personal insight; lack of motivation; lack of personal integrity; lack of responsibility to clients/co-workers; inability to recognise personal limitations; inability to function under pressure; or any other behaviour that would have serious adverse effects upon the employee's ability to do their job.
  • Inappropriate behaviour includes any activity through which an employee reduces or destroys his or her effectiveness, the effectiveness of a fellow employee, or the ability of the Company to serve its customers.

In other words, if you want to be perceived as a professional worthy of being hired, make sure your social media profiles (including your personal ones) reflect this.
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