10 social media mistakes that could cost you the job


What would a prospective employer learn if they met you for the first time through social media?


It’s an important question. Like it or not it’s the reality these days.


A recent survey by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder found that nearly two in five companies (39 percent) use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 37 percent last year. (See link below for more details on the survey) Enlightening facts!


By it’s very nature social media provides a platform for instant communication. The benefits are amazing! However this “instant” opportunity can sometimes mean our typical common sense filters are not engaged.


We’ve all seen questionable comments or pictures; posts that make us cringe or are just plain annoying. If they make us uncomfortable, imagine what a hiring manager might think! Posts that may be overlooked or tolerated by friends may not paint us in the best light for an employer.


Social media communication tends to blur line the between friends and business colleagues. Most of us have both among our contacts. While we may enjoy and benefit from more frequent interaction we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that everyone sees everything and everything online can be public! This includes employers, clients and business colleagues…both present and future. When making an innocent comment to friends, it’s easy to forget that the very same post may not be appropriate for your business connections.


Employers remain astounded with the number of candidates who do not check the privacy settings on their social media and voluntarily leave questionable content open to view.


Here are some common social media mistakes to avoid:


1.  Do not post unsuitable material or use inappropriate language. Remember that most people have both business and personal connections on social media. If you wouldn’t say it (except in a private conversation) and wouldn’t dream of using offensive language in front of someone’s family member, client or boss then don’t post it online! It’s also wise to keep tabs on what your friends are posting about you! (Pictures and all!)


2.  Don’t post anything that is or can be perceived as illegal or discriminatory. Ever.


3.  Do not say anything negative against a current or former employer. While the first might be obvious, the second can catch folks up. They think because they have moved on it doesn’t matter. It does. Not a good way to build a trusting or professional relationship with a new or prospective employer. If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, leave it there. (By the way, ask your family members not to comment either. I recently saw a negative post from the wife of someone who had just left a very unprofessional employment situation. The wife thought it was ok to call out the bad behavior of the former employer. She hadn’t thought of what the NEW employer might think…including that not only could the employee make their business public but so could his spouse!) If a prospective employer reads your negative comments about a former employer, they will in all likelihood not hire you.


4.  Avoid talk about getting ahead or “climbing the corporate ladder”. Your current employer could easily think you are making assumptions about your future and your abilities. More importantly your intentions become questionable. Are you striving to continuously develop your skills and progress in your career? Or are you really just interested in title and position and will do anything to get ahead?


5.  Don’t brag about your success and continuously self-promote. People hate it. Employers will assume you are not a team player and inclined to take credit for everything. And don’t bother trying to couch the bragging in some other statement. We’ve all seen posts like “Whew so exhausted after flying to (insert exotic location) to accept award”. The message isn’t about being exhausted. It’s just a way to let everyone know about the exotic location and award. If you think people don’t see through this…you’re wrong…and it turns them off. If you want folks to know you received an award just say so! “I received an award and I’m thrilled!” They’ll be happy for you instead of put off!


6.  Refrain from repeatedly telling people how busy you are or constantly whining about your hectic travel schedule. It gets tiresome, it’s not interesting and no one cares. Everyone is busy. And if you are traveling for business, it’s the business you chose and you are being paid so stop making it sound like it’s a chore. There are lots of interesting posts you could make about your travel that will engage rather than repel. Moreover a prospective employer may peg you as a chronic complainer.


7.  Don’t be tempted to lie about your qualifications or experience. This is an obvious problem when it comes to talking about employers. But did you realize that lying about your qualifications would also impact your credibility with colleagues and friends? They are the very people who will be your references or in the case of freelancers recommend you for a job. Don’t forget that many of them know your exact level of experience. If they see you’ve exaggerated or lied, it may make them uncomfortable to act as a reference or recommend you. This can also be very insulting to those whodo in fact have the experience you are claiming!


8.  Never post in anger…about anything! It almost never comes out well. Sarcasm is another tough one. It often doesn’t translate properly and can easily be misinterpreted. Re-read your posts before you hit send.


9.  Don’t be consistently sloppy with language and spelling. No one will think twice about quick comments or abbreviations but you will be assumed to be a poor communicator if there is no sign that you can spell or put a sentence together. Without question this is more relevant on LinkedIn than on say Twitter, however it’s something to keep in mind in general.


10.  Avoid leaving your photo blank or your profile incomplete on professional sites such as LinkedIn. An employer will assume you can’t be bothered. It demonstrates lack pride and professionalism. In the absence of information, no employer will assume you have all the experience or skills they are looking for.


Try looking through all of your online platforms through the eyes of an employer.


Check privacy settings particularly on sites where you have more personal interactions. Is there anything that could come between you and your dream job? If you aren’t sure, have someone else review everything objectively.


Keep in mind that employers are checking out your social media to learn a little more about you and how you might fit in their organization. They want to find the good, not the bad. They are not going to be turned off by photos of the weekend party with friends…unless something crosses the line.


Just stop and think twice before you post.


If you pause at all, it’s probably best to give it a miss.


Know someone who could benefit from a review of his or her social sites? Do them a favour and pass this on. You could save them the job!


Here’s more details on the survey of hiring managers:

More Employers Finding Reasons Not to Hire Candidates on Social Media, Finds CareerBuilder Survey http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/more-employers-finding-reasons-not-to-hire-candidates-on-social-media-finds-careerbuilder-survey-213093091.html


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Post by Margaret Johnston, eventswork.com

As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.